5 Things Wrong with the Colts Other Than the Quarterback Position
With a loss at home against the Jaguars, the Colts are now 0-10. That puts them two games behind the next worst team, and with only one or two "winnable" games left on the schedule, the Colts are now nearly a lock for the first overall pick in the draft.
Now, of course, everyone blames the loss of Peyton Manning for the terrible season, but no team should be that dependent on a single player for at least one win. Even if Peyton Manning returns at 100 percent, or if Andrew Luck comes out of the gates playing out of his mind, the Colts have a lot of issues on both sides of the ball.
So, sans Manning, what is wrong with the Colts this season? Here are five:
1. The Offensive Line
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It's hard for Curtis Painter to do much with the pressure he gets from defensive lines day in and day out.
The Colts drafted two offensive linemen early in the draft last season, but they still aren't done. Anthony Castonzo looks like a right tackle more than a left tackle, and Ben Ijalana has been on injured reserve all season, so it's difficult to see the impact he's made.
Even if Ijalana works out, the Colts need a franchise left tackle and a center to replace the 36-year-old Jeff Saturday in the future.
The fact that the Colts pulled Kerry Collins out of retirement only to see him get injured immediately shows that they still need to improve their offensive line. It's a critical need, whether or not Manning returns.
2. Run Defense
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The Colts have needed a defensive tackle for a long time, but it's never hurt them because it's not how their defense is built.
The Colts' defense is designed around taking an early lead so that the other team can't run, then rushing the passer like there's no tomorrow. Now that that isn't working, they need to finally beef up their run defense.
The addition of Pat Angerer in 2010 helps the run defense, but the outside linebackers leave something to be desired, and the biggest need is still on the interior defensive line. Although the Colts will certainly spend their first round pick on a quarterback or an offensive lineman, they ought to look into drafting a defensive tackle early on.
3. Pass Coverage
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Again, this is something that hasn't hurt the Colts in the past, but now is a critical need. Outside of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, the whole defense needs to be retooled. Even Freeney and Mathis are both above 30, and will need replacements soon.
However, if they're going to rebuild their defense, the pass rush can wait.
The Colts are currently ranked 21st against the pass. That doesn't look as bad on paper as it actually is. Most teams playing the Colts run the ball a lot, because they take an early lead and don't need to pass any more.
The only really good defensive back that the Colts have is free safety Antoine Bethea. Anyone who isn't him can be upgraded.
With the strong cornerback class of 2012, the Colts may want to take a corner in the first three rounds if a good one falls.
4. The Defensive Scheme
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Of course, if the Colts still want to have a defense that focuses on rushing the passer, you know what they could do? Change the scheme!
The Colts run a base 4-3 defense, but use their ends to rush the passer. Freeney, at this point in his career, pretty much just comes in on third down for that purpose alone. If you're going to design your defense around rushing the passer, just switch to the 3-4.
If you don't know, the 4-3 typically focuses on stopping the run first, while the 3-4 is more pass defense-oriented, and incorporates two rush linebackers (examples: Clay Matthews, James Harrison and Brian Orakpo), whose primary purpose is to rush the quarterback.
Since the NFL is becoming a pass-oriented league more and more, many teams are switching to the 3-4. The Colts' defensive philosophy matches the 3-4, so they might as well go ahead and make the switch now, since they're rebuilding anyway.
5. The Leadership
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Jim Caldwell is in a pickle. He was handed a team that was built around one player, and no one took into account what would happen if that player was injured.
Even though you can't blame everything on Caldwell, it's tough to defend anyone that goes 0-10. The Colts have been close a couple of times to winning games, so the talent is there, but they have never taken it over the top and won a game.
The Colts will have a bye next week, and after that they face the 2-7 Panthers, followed by the Patriots and the Ravens (both are 6-3), before finishing out the season against the Titans, Texans and Jaguars (all of whom have beaten the Colts by a large margin already).
The Panthers might be the Colts' last chance at a win without a miracle. If Caldwell can't find a way to win that game, he might need to get his résumé in order.