Colts vs. Bears: Andrew Luck Comes Up Short in Indianapolis Debut

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistSeptember 9, 2012

There are brighter days coming for the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck, but they are still a long way off.

The Chicago Bears waxed the top pick in the draft and his Indianapolis teammates, 41-21, at Soldier Field on Sunday.

While a pick-six by Jerrell Freeman against Jay Cutler kept the Colts in the game early, it was clear by halftime that the Bears were the vastly superior team.

Indianapolis struggled to run the ball, protect the passer, stop the pass or hold onto the ball.

Ultimately, it was the five Colts turnovers that did them in.

Luck was uneven in his first start, throwing for 309 largely meaningless yards and three picks to go with a fumble. All three interceptions by Luck were underthrown passes to otherwise open receivers. While there were individual moments of excellence, he was harassed and pressured most of the game.

Other than Reggie Wayne, the Colts receivers were an inexperienced and mediocre group, as Austin Collie was inactive for the game. Donnie Avery, Kris Adams and LaVon Brazill combined for 73 yards between them, and most of that came late in the game with the outcome no longer in doubt.

Defensively, the Colts were a mess.

Robert Mathis picked up a sack early, but after the ill-conceived pass by Cutler that Freeman returned for a score, there were few highlights. The Bears averaged 8.5 yards per dropback as Cutler ravaged the Indy secondary.

Newcomer Vontae Davis was abused by Alshon Jeffery for a long touchdown pass, and Cutler relentlessly attacked nickel back Justin King all afternoon. The top three wideouts for Chicago totaled 249 yards and two touchdowns.

The Colts were also called for four pass interference penalties on the day.

We didn't learn anything new about the Colts we didn't already know. They lack the talent on both sides of the ball to compete with upper-echelon teams. The Colts could have hung with Chicago, but it would have required a near perfect effort from Luck.

In his first NFL game, he wasn't up to the task.

Under pressure, he fired high to receivers, but the most damage was done on the three interceptions. All three could have been big gains, even touchdowns, but in each instance, Luck threw a ball short of where it needed to be.

Indianapolis faces a huge test at home next week against Minnesota. If it can win the winnable games with Jacksonville and the Vikings, it'll be able to hit the team's bye week with good feelings. If the Colts can't beat either team, they'll be back on the clock for the No. 1 pick in the draft in 2013.