Indianapolis Colts: Coaching Staff Needs Improvement as Much as Players

By Eric Smith

I was extremely happy with the new direction the Indianapolis Colts went in when they fired Jim Caldwell and the rest of the coaching staff after the 2011 season. They hired Chuck Pagano from the Baltimore Ravens and he brought in a staff that would change the entire way the Colts play football. They promised more of a balance attack on offense and a new defense that will be similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Ravens.

Up until the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, I was pleased. I know some of the mistakes and ineffectiveness was all from the inexperienced players. But the coaches had a great gameplan for Sunday and the players performed under their guidance for the first three quarters.

Then came the fourth quarter.

Indianapolis was up 20-6 and seemed to do whatever they wanted with the ball and the defense was making big stops on the Vikings. For some reason the coaching staff decided to change up what they were doing all game and switch to a more conservative approach of playing not to lose rather than to win. That nearly got them beat.

When Andrew Luck was effective in the short pass game, why scrap it and run the ball? Everyone in Lucas Oil Stadium knew what they were going to do. The Vikings would stuff the Colts on first and second downs for nothing and force third and long situations. I know offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was just trying to keep the clock moving and rely on the defense to get stops and keep the clock moving as well. They were hoping time would run out before the Vikings had a chance to win the game.

I understand wanting to keep the clock moving and make it hard on Minnesota. But why not keep doing what you’re doing and mixing in some short passes as well to keep the defense at bay? Why not just bury the Vikings and cruise to a victory rather than stress at the end?

Indianapolis drafted Luck No. 1 overall for a reason. Let the kid play and drive us down the field for one more score to seal the win. When Minnesota tied the game with less than a minute to go it was up to Luck to do what he did all game. He led Indianapolis on a magnificent final drive to set up an Adam Vinatieri field goal for the win. My question is: why not do that earlier and seal the game earlier in the fourth quarter?

The coaches expect the players to improve week to week, so why not themselves? I hope they learned from their mistakes for closing out the game against Minnesota and will go on to bury Jacksonville early. I’ve always said if you let a team that’s worse than you hang around long enough, they’re going to beat you. Why not close it out when you can? Hopefully Indianapolis has it sealed and doesn’t let the foot off the accelerator until the final horn. After all, it’s a 60 minute game, not a 45 minute contest and then play not to lose for 15 minutes.

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