As the Indianapolis Colts come back from their Week 4 bye, it's been something of a mixed bag in the first three weeks of the Andrew Luck era, both where their new franchise quarterback and the rest of the team are concerned.
The first overall pick in April's NFL draft has had his ups and downs, completing just over 53 percent of his passes for 846 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions while guiding the Colts to one victory in three tries.
With that said, Luck can't do the job himself. If the Colts are going to continue to rebuild, then there are a couple of areas that will have to be addressed.
First, the importance of the loss of head coach Chuck Pagano cannot be overestimated.
The team very much seemed to buy into Pagano's blue-collar philosophy. While it's, of course, much more important that Pagano focus on beating leukemia, a rookie head coach leaving a rookie quarterback in midseason is certainly a blow. It will be left to interim coach Bruce Arians to minimize that blow.
Realistically speaking, no one outside the most fervent Colts fans expected a whole lot out of Indianapolis this season, which begs the question of what the Colts should be looking to do moving forward as they attempt to return to respectability in the AFC South.
Without question, the biggest issue facing the Colts on offense is their inability to run the ball effectively with any sort of consistency. This is an issue that has plagued the organization for years, but with Peyton Manning under center the team was able to cover up this deficiency to an extent.
Now Manning is gone, but the problem remains, and it's becoming more and more evident that current starter Donald Brown isn't the answer to their backfield woes. The fourth-year pro is averaging a paltry 3.6 yards a carry, and frankly, the 25-year-old lacks the explosiveness necessary to help take some of the pressure off Luck and the passing game.
With rookie Vick Ballard faring even worse, it's clear that the solution to this problem isn't presently on the Colts' roster. It's a safe bet that the team will be spending an early draft pick on a back next year if they can't improve the backfield in free agency.
With that said, however, all the blame for the Colts' inability to move the ball on the ground effectively doesn't lie with the running backs.
The Indianapolis offensive line has fared fairly well in pass protection, allowing five sacks in three games, but at 3.7 yards per carry the team ranks in the bottom half of the NFL. Part of that is on the offensive line.
This most likely isn't something that's going to be fixed overnight. The Indianapolis offensive line, for years, was built around pass protection for a quarterback who made quick reads and got rid of the ball.
A transformation into the sort of slobberknockers that a ball-control offense (one that would be of great benefit to a young quarterback) is built around may well involve not only some personnel changes, but also a shift in the mentality of the players that remain. That's no easy task.
Granted, this isn't to say that all is doom and gloom in Indy. Doom and gloom was last year's 2-14 debacle, and the Colts have already taken a huge step forward in acquiring a player who looks very much like their franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck.
Now comes the hard part. Building an offense around him.
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