The Real Problem with the Indianapolis Colts Offense

Jack MeoffCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2008

The window closes.

Just like how the pretty girl will lose interest eventually if you don’t ask her out or that road trip down to Key West fades away when the price of gas goes back up. Every window closes.

For the better part of the decade the Indianapolis Colts have been one of the best teams in the NFL.

They were an explosive, exciting team to watch. Their quarterback played his position so well that if he didn’t come out and dominate it felt like it tarnished his legacy somehow.

Now their window is closing.

If they suffered a weakness over the years it was the fact that they lacked grit. It’s ironic that grit is the one thing that’s holding them together.

The one strength they’ve always had is that they’ve been one of the best offenses in the league. This year their success has almost been in spite of that offense.

The Colt’s offensive woes go across the board, you can find them on every level. Even Manning, who appears to be healthy after gutting his way through the start of the season isn’t the same player he was just three years ago. This fall off isn’t great, but it’s a symptom that runs through the entire offense. They aren’t what they were.

The receiving corps is a mess. Last year Reggie Wayne assumed the mantle of Marvin Harrison and he thrived. This year he’s battled through some nickel and dime injuries, double teams, and has dropped a few passes Reggie Wayne doesn’t drop. Watching over the past few weeks I can’t help but get the sense that something’s wrong.

There’s no mystery as to why Marvin Harrison is a shell of himself. Players do not always make it back from major injuries. Jerry Rice was never the same player after his knee injury yet he was still able to be productive for several years. Harrison is at a stage in his career where he can still be productive, but he’s not a top two wide receiver anymore, he’s a three at best.    

Dallas Clark is coming off a career year, with 11 touchdowns. This year he’s been afraid to get hit. I don’t know how else to say it. He’s afraid to get hit, he’s dropping passes in traffic and as a result he’s no longer reliable.

Anthony Gonzalez may mature into the two slot, but he’s young and inconsistent. He’s still just a solid number three receiver, he still needs to marinate for awhile before he’s ready to supplant Harrison.

They’ve struggled to run the ball.

Joseph Addai has been hurt. The line has had trouble opening up running lanes. Or maybe he’s not as good as we were lead to believe. Dominick Rhodes has played well, but he’s still just Dominick Rhodes.

Their biggest problem has been the offensive line. The problems began before last season with Tarik Glenn’s surprise retirement. Tony Ugoh has played admirably in his place, but Glenn was one of the best.

Jeff Saturday missed time at the beginning of the season, and didn’t play last week when the offense mustered just three points against the Browns. He’s questionable for this week’s game against the Bengals, and may very well be the single most important man on the Colt’s offense other then Peyton Manning.

They’re coming down the stretch full of questions. If Saturday gets healthy, then the line can come together. If the line comes together Joseph Addai finds room to run. With opponents forced to respect the run the passing offense will start to open up, the improved line play will give Peyton more time to throw and they’re suddenly a contender again.

Colts fans can get ready for a deep playoff run and fantasy owners can smile again.

But the window’s no longer wide open.