On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts continued on the wrong track, moving to 0-5 in a 28-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. While the game was close, it was another winnable game that got away from the Colts.
The Colts led the game 24-14 at halftime of this game, with a fantastic start from Curtis Painter, connecting with Pierre Garcon on two touchdown strikes. While many people have had their criticism on Painter, he has started to improve the past two starts, where he was the definitive starter in place of Peyton Manning.
Despite the flashy numbers that Painter has been putting up, the Colts offense is still not nearly in the same sync that they had with Peyton Manning at the helm. To the current team's credit, injuries have dominated this team so far this season, the offensive line has been dinged up, and Joseph Addai has made a thin run game even thinner.
While not everything has gone south for the Colts, the record speaks very loudly at the direction of this team after this shortened offseason. While many pointed at this week to be one of the bright spots for the Colts to turn the season around, next week against the Bengals provides another opportunity to grab a win and start the turnaround for the season.
Looking ahead, here are a few winners and losers coming out of this week's game and moving forward for the Colts.
While many feel that Curtis Painter's hair might be a loser, his performance on the field has been nothing short of shocking the past two weeks.
While his completion percentage is not the flashiest, he has played within himself and kept from making any game-changing mistakes.
He is at a dismal 49-percent completion percentage, but he has 558 yards in the past two weeks to go along with two touchdown passes in each game.
I—along with many others—had a long list of concerns about how quarterback play would deter this season without Manning.
Painter looked pretty bad in the preseason, but I think they jumped the gun and signed Collins when they didn't truly need him. What I think the signing did, though, is start a flame in Curtis Painter that has propelled him to being a very viable backup for any team in this league.
If Painter continues to develop in the coming season, he could very well be a guy the Colts could feel comfortable with for a few transition years in the post-Manning era.
Regardless of that, though, it wouldn't prevent them from drafting Andrew Luck (given the opportunity). Painter has solidified his stock in the NFL as a long-term backup.
Once upon a time, Joseph Addai was drafted out of LSU and came to Indianapolis. That year, he helped them capture the Super Bowl.
Fast forward to present time, and you have a disappointing running back who is almost out of chances with the fans and management.
In his sixth year in the league, Addai only has just over 4,000 career yards on the ground.
While the Colts offense has never been run-happy, there is no excuse for him to not exceed the 1,000-yard mark every season.
Addai has been off to a relatively slow start this season, and it might have taken a bigger hit on Sunday when he left the game with a hamstring injury.
It is apparent that the Colts have lost faith in another former first-round running back, Donald Brown, as he has barely seen any action this season. The only running back who seems to have any promise of seeing time is Delone Carter.
Addai appears to be losing the pop in his step when carrying the ball, whether it is his NFL clock ticking or just ineffectiveness, the Colts need to look to establish a running game in the near future. While Peyton may still have a few years in his cleats, there will be a time when the team will transition, and it will need a run game to depend on, especially in late-game situations.
Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne—now it is Pierre Garcon's time to take the reigns for the Colts receivers.
In Harrison's last few seasons, Wayne emerged and provided the elite one-two punch that made Manning as dangerous as he is.
We are finally starting to see Garcon make that leap to give Painter that second (or third, adding Dallas Clark) threat on the outside.
All that being said, Painter and Garcon have some sort of connection going that makes both of them good plays in fantasy and have put the Colts in a prime position to be competitive, despite all the problems that have riddled their team this year.
In the last two games, Garcon has 271 yards and four touchdowns, accounting for approximately half of the Colts' receiving yards.
While Painter will eventually be put back on the sidelines for Peyton, Garcon is showing that the few blunders from last season are in the past and he is a reliable target in the Colts offense.
Garcon has been a bright spot for the Colts this season and is showing that he is going to get looks from Painter, since he is clearly his favorite target.
While Jim Caldwell could not have prevented Peyton Manning from getting injured, the head coach of the Colts has to take some of the blame for the lack of wins at this point in the season.
The offensive line is not performing to the point that they should, despite the injuries.
On top of that, the offense has no running game, something that should be a staple when the head of your passing game is out with an injury.
On the defensive side of the ball, there is still concern with the undersized linebackers as well as the secondary. The Colts have a history of not being able to stop the run and having linebackers who look like safeties.
In terms of the secondary, the Colts never seem to address the position in the draft and just hope that they catch gold.
In one of the biggest stories on the defensive front this season, the Colts released Justin Tryon after he presumably fell out of grace with Caldwell and the coaches. Irony hit in the week following the release when Tampa Bay hit Preston Parker across the middle—where Tryon would normally be covering—for the game-tying touchdown.
On a whole, I don't see the future being too bright for head coach Jim Caldwell.
This could very well be the last season for him in Indianapolis, with the Colts looking to go in a new direction for the end of Manning's career.
This may be one of those jokes for the fans who need a positive to come from this season—it is becoming more and more of a reality.
This was one of the most winnable games this weekend. The team seems to be going in the right direction, however the cards just seem to be lining up to give the Colts a shot to score the biggest prospect since some guy named Peyton.
While the analysis of Luck is unnecessary, this is starting to become more of a reality.
Another team dropped out of the win-less ranks in the Chiefs, which makes the Colts' odds towards drafting another high-profile quarterback a reality.
Ultimately, this could be a win for the team who has lacked just that this season.
Long-term security is something that many fans worry about when thinking about life after Manning.