Jaguars vs. Colts: 6 Things We Learned from Indy's 17-3 Loss
Another Sunday, another embarrassing loss for the Indianapolis Colts.
So what else is new?
Losing is now as routine in Indianapolis as winning used to be, and time is quickly running out for the boys in blue to score a single victory before this season ends.
Is there really that much difference between 0-9 and 0-10?
Of course there isn’t.
But the perception of this team has indeed sunk somehow even lower after completely failing to show up against the Jaguars this afternoon, and any cautious optimism that may have surfaced when the Colts looked mildly competitive in some of their earlier contests is now officially gone.
Here’s what we found out today about the winless, hopeless 0-10 Colts.
1. Bill Polian Is Delusional
Unless he’s just trying really hard to combat the “Suck for Luck” accusations or to cover for how horribly this team has been managed the last couple years, Bill Polian is out of his mind.
He continues to support pretty much everyone in this organization despite its losing ways, and even as the losses continue to pile up, he continues to insist this group is just a couple tweaks away from a formidable football team.
In his latest outburst, Polian told team radio announcer Bob Lamey in today’s post-game interview that “you’re never as bad as you look when you lose, even when you’re 0-10,” then casually deflected blame for the humiliating three-point performance from virtually anyone involved in producing it.
“I can’t fault our front seven,” Polian said. “I can’t fault Bethea. I can’t fault Caldwell.”
Well that’s a huge relief.
For a minute there, it looked like the Colts offense, defense, special teams and entire coaching staff were all huge problems against every opponent they’ve faced.
In fact, to some extent, it even seemed like every single member of this entire organization should be at fault for their performance this season.
Guess we all just got worked up over nothing there, huh Bill?
2. The Colts Need More Than Luck
Hell, the Colts need more than just Peyton Manning back, for that matter.
To think a proficient quarterback alone is going to magically fix the mess this team is in is absolutely absurd.
Peyton Manning has done wonders as the leader of this offense, and Andrew Luck has all the tell-tale signs of a future franchise quarterback.
The Colts are still going to be in trouble no matter which of them is starting for the team next year, however, unless drastic changes take place all across the board.
Jim Caldwell needs to go. With Peyton hurt, this year was his opportunity to prove his worth and, unfortunately for Caldwell, it seems he’s done just that.
The Colts are still undersized on both sides of the ball and it’s shown. It’s been a problem for years, it’s never been sufficiently addressed, and as along as that’s the case, a problem it will remain.
Manning isn’t the only starter whose career is winding down, either. Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Jeff Saturday and Ryan Diem are all over 30, and will all need to be replaced at some point over the next few years.
The future may be bright in Indianapolis, but seeing that future realized will take much more than simply upgrading the quarterback position.
3. Curtis Painter Isn’t Fooling Anyone Anymore
Painter has had one hell of a roller coaster ride in 2011, and at one point, he actually seemed like a real-life professional football player.
Playing the Bucs in Week 4 and the Chiefs in Week 5, Painter averaged over 275 yards per game and scored four touchdowns with no interceptions.
Then the roller coaster reached its high point, the bottom dropped out and Painter started playing less like a legitimate NFL quarterback and more like the strictly-emergency backup plan we all remembered him as being.
He’s had an interception in every game since, he’s scored just a single touchdown and his passer rating plummeted from 107.6 during that two-game stretch to just 52.4 over his next four.
Today Painter threw two interceptions and completed 13 passes for 94 yards. He was benched in the fourth quarter, and rightfully so, and figures to have a tough time remaining Indy’s starter for much longer given the dreadful performance of this offense in recent games.
Now that Painter has logged some significant regular season playing time, teams simply have all the information they need to prepare for him, and none of the ones who’ve faced him over the entire last month have had any trouble neutralizing him or, in most cases, completely taking advantage of him.
Curtis Painter’s glory days were already over.
After today’s performance, his days as an Indianapolis Colt just might be numbered too.
4. Dallas Clark Is Officially Overrated
Dallas Clark is an explosive tight end when paired with a competent quarterback.
But after suffering another significant injury this season and seeing backup Jacob Tamme put together a solid performance in his absence once again, there’s just no way Clark still belongs among the ranks of the NFL’s elite tight ends.
It’s a fine distinction, but it is one worth making considering this is a two-time All-Pro former Super Bowl Champion we’re talking about here.
Again, it’s not to say Clark hasn’t had a tremendous career or put together some remarkable performances, it’s simply that his play has been elevated with the help of a brilliant quarterback and we now know for certain he would not have experienced the same success if he hadn’t been playing on an equally talented offense all these years.
Tamme had six catches for 75 yards today, 35 percent of the team’s total offensive production, and he did it with Painter and Dan Orlovsky throwing him the ball.
Clark, on the other hand, has been playing with the same anemic offense all year long (even at times when it appeared much more stable than it did this afternoon), but he’s only surpassed Tamme’s performance from today on one occasion: in Week 9, Clark also caught six passes for a total of 77 yards.
Besides that game, Clark has had six catches just once and had more than 40 receiving yards just twice.
Last season, with Clark out half the year, Tamme also filled in just fine, and to some extent even outplayed the ninth-year starter (Clark was averaging 6.2 catches and 59 yards per game before he went on injured reserve, while Tamme averaged 6.7 catches and 63 yards per game in his place).
Dallas Clark is a great addition to any team.
As far as tight ends go, however, we now know he is not among the game’s best.
5. 0-16 Seems Likely
Expectations for the 2011 Indianapolis Colts have steadily declined ever since Peyton Manning’s presence in Week 1 was first questioned, and after another dismal outing today against Jacksonville, those expectations are now at an all-time low.
0-16 no longer seems merely possible for the Colts this season, it actually seems likely.
Forget about the No. 1 draft pick, that pathetic consolation prize is all but in the bag now that Indy has two fewer wins than any other team with just six games left to play. The question now, as pitiful as it is to consider, is whether or not this team can even win a single game.
Their six remaining opponents include three teams they’ve already lost to (Jacksonville, Houston, and Tennessee), the No. 1 offense in the league (New England), the No. 2 defense (Baltimore) and another rookie quarterback whose transition to the big leagues has gone much smoother than the one who beat them today (Carolina).
The sad truth is Indy’s best chance at a win this season had to be earlier this afternoon when they were up against a 2-6 Jaguars team with a rookie starting quarterback and the worst statistical offense in the entire NFL. Guess what? It didn’t happen.
Will it ever?
6. The Colts Aren’t Just Bad, They’re Unwatchable
For a while there, it really seemed like the Colts might have the offensive firepower necessary to sneak up on some team and steal themselves a much-needed, morale-boosting victory.
You knew it’d be hard, but the notion was at least feasible, and even though the season was already pretty much lost, you still found yourself curious enough to continue tuning in.
Colts fans no longer have any incentive to even watch their team play, unless of course it’s to root for the other team in hopes of further locking down that sorely sought-after top draft pick or to have a little chuckle over some laughably incompetent quarterback play. Considering how quick the NFL was to change the Colts’ upcoming matchup with the Patriots out of its prime-time slot, they’re probably not the only ones, either.
The Colts offense has one touchdown in three games.
They’ve produced seven turnovers during that same span.
At this point, a win would hardly even matter, and when you consider how many painfully boring three-and-out sequences you’d have to endure just to witness a Colts victory it the first place, it’s not even worth trying.
There’s a reason the Colts are unanimously considered the worst team in the league.
Their games are the unanimous worst too.
Follow me on Twitter: @RussPunt
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