5 Things We Learned from the Indianapolis Colts' Fifth Straight Loss

Robby HowardContributor IIIOctober 10, 2011

5 Things We Learned from the Indianapolis Colts' Fifth Straight Loss

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    This loss was different.

    Sure, the Colts are now 0-5 and look to be the leader of the pack in the running for Andrew Luck, but we saw yet another Indianapolis Colts team show up Sunday afternoon.

    We saw a spirited team show up in the first half. It was clicking on all cylinders. The running game was solid, Curtis Painter hit some big plays, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis got their sacks, and the defense managed to get off the field on third downs. Heck, even the special teams looked pretty good in coverage.

    Then another team showed up in the second half. A not so spirited team. A team that didn't score any points and allowed the Chiefs to come all the way back.

    Yes, the Colts are 0-5. But if the team can play the way it did during the first half of Sunday for an entire game, the Colts could quickly snap out of their losing ways.

    Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Colts' loss to the Chiefs.

Curtis Painter Is the Answer at Quarterback

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    Curtis Painter proved himself Sunday.

    He made some big, big throws in tight coverages that fans had never seen him make before. He was spot on on a deep ball to Pierre Garcon. He threaded the needle multiple times. 

    Most importantly, he never turned the ball over. He gave his team a great chance to win.

    Curtis Painter proved he should not be booed and he should be given a chance in the NFL. Perhaps not with the Colts since Manning will be returning next year, but there is definitely a team out there that was impressed with his performance.

    He even managed to pull off a few classic Peyton Manning plays, like catching the defense substituting and going to the quick count. 

    Ok, so maybe Peyton called that into him over the headset. But still, it was impressive.

This Offensive Line Works

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    In previous weeks you would not be able to find a picture like this of Curtis Painter. There would've been a defender wrapped around his body, not a clear pocket in front of him.

    Painter had time to sit back, read the defense, and step into his throw during almost the entire game. 

    The running game had holes, not huge, but big enough for a three to four yard gain.

    When Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana both went down with injuries last week, it seemed like this line would be doomed. Instead, Jeff Linkenbach, Mike Pollack and Quinn Ojinnaka stepped up into new roles. Ojinnaka in particular, after just signing this week and starting at right tackle.

    Whatever the line did this week in practice, it worked.

Pierre Garcon Is a Big Time Playmaker

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    It's easy to say that Pierre Garcon is Curtis Painter's favorite target. Two games: four touchdowns.

    Garcon has been able to create separation and use his breakaway speed to dash into the end zone. In a struggling offense, Garcon has been a tremendous vertical threat.

    He's been great on screen plays, hook routes and best at the straight streak play where he just turns on the burners and lets Painter air it out to him. He converted that play twice against the Chiefs.

    Even better, Garcon didn't drop any catchable balls Sunday, something he is notorious for doing.

    It's not Manning to Harrison, but it's the closest thing the Colts will have to that this season.

Dallas Clark Is Thinking Too Much

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    Dallas Clark is not a bad receiver. He's not a bad tight end. He's not past his prime.

    He's just thinking too much.

    Clark has struggled to start the season, something he, and Colts fans, aren't use to seeing. People are talking about it all over Indianapolis, and Clark wants to try to redeem himself.

    But he has to remember to catch the ball first.

    Clark was considerably frustrated with himself Sunday, dropping four balls. He knows people are counting on him, and he knows he's disappointing them. He's just trying too hard right now.

    Dallas Clark will eventually come around and he'll return to his normal form. He just has to go back to the basics to do that and stop trying to atone for past mistakes.

The Secondary Has Massive Holes

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    Dwayne Bowe made the Colts secondary look like practice dummies.

    Bowe is an elite receiver who has great physical attributes and a ton of talent, as evidenced by his second touchdown catch. But the Colts secondary didn't do anything to help themselves.

    The DB's continued to sit in soft coverage, giving the receiver 10 yards. That can't happen. Good receivers will make you pay for that, like Bowe did on his long catch and run for a touchdown to close the half.

    The coverage must be tighter, and the zone coverage must improve, too. 

    Oh, and the tackling needs to improve, too.

    And the penalties have to stop, too.

    Basically, the secondary was just overall bad Sunday against the Chiefs. Bowe's play to close the first half turned the tide of the game and can be seen as the Chiefs resurgence. And it was the secondary's fault.