Normally with a young team, people want to give them the free pass for losing. Many think just because there’s a rookie quarterback and coach that it’s okay to lose. Now, don’t get me wrong, if they lose in year one I don‘t mind, but I want to see them improve each week during the season and beat the teams they’re supposed to beat. That’s how this rebuilding process works.
I was outraged leaving Lucas Oil Stadium yesterday, more so than any other time leaving a sporting event. This Indianapolis Colts team is so much better than the Jacksonville Jaguars that it’s not even funny. When you take a 14-3 lead into the halftime break and get the ball back in the second, half there’s no way to lose–at least there shouldn’t be.
For the second consecutive week, Indianapolis went in to play to not lose instead of just playing to win the game. Maybe they missed the former head coach Herm Edwards’ famous postgame press conference speech when he said, “you play to win the game.”
The Colts just stopped trying to move the ball and relied on wanting to kill the clock most of the second half and rely on their defense to win the game. This was the same scenario as last week that almost got them beat.
Now, this way of thinking almost worked again, but the defense laid down two big blunders in giving up a 59-yard Maurice Jones-Drew touchdown rush on the Jaguars’ first play in third quarter and a huge mental breakdown to allow Cecil Shorts to score on an 80-yard touchdown reception with 45 seconds left in the game on the Jags’ last play of the second half. Take those two blunders away and the Colts still win.
That’s how bad Jacksonville was.
There’s no way a starting quarterback in this day and age of the NFL goes 10 for 21 with 155 yards and wins the game with 80 of those 155 yards coming on their final play from scrimmage on offense. Blaine Gabbert only had 75 total passing yards and nine completions prior to that lucky strike. How does he get a win? The dumpster fire of a quarterback only had 53 yards last week in a 27-7 home loss to Houston, where he only completed seven passes. He’s arguably the worst quarterback in NFL history and he’s leading a team to a win on the road. That’s flat out embarrassing for Indianapolis.
Gabbert missed high, he missed low, he was just flat out way off. He couldn’t hit a stand still target five yards away from him uncovered with no pressure. He’s just flat out terrible and will be lucky to have a starting quarterback job in the NFL next season. That’s the guy the defense allowed to throw a lucky pass through on a mental breakdown. Embarrassing.
Another part of embarrassing loss was Adam Vinatieri’s missed chip shot that would have given Indianapolis a 17-16 lead with 4:40 to go in the game. This was the NFL’s best clutch kicker’s second ill-timed miss in three games as Vinatieri is showing his once great career is coming to an end. He finally did hit what looked like the go ahead 37-yard field goal with 50 seconds left to give the Colts a 17-16 lead. The kick was barely good, though, and was a bit of a redemption kick, but the defense dropped the ball on the very next play.
Now, the Colts were left for Andrew Luck to lead them down the field in 45 seconds and no timeouts. The kid actually did that, but they weren’t able to convert a touchdown on the final play. If Vinatieri made his earlier chip shot, all the Colts would have needed was yet another field goal for the win in that situation instead of a touchdown. It would have been another chip shot.
I’ve said all preseason and every week in this early regular season that this team is going to be defined by how well they improve each week. They can’t afford to regress. This season is all about improvement. Improvement yesterday would have been a win. After all, Jacksonville was winless and had the worst rated offense in the league. They also were among the league’s worst rush defense. They lost to the same Vikings team that the Colts beat 23-20 last week.
Does allowing the worst offense to score twice in the second half when they only scored two total touchdowns in their first two games sound like improvement? Does only gaining 124 yards on the ground when 50 of them came from the quarterback sound like improvement? Does losing to the worst team in the NFL sound like improvement?
This is why I think it’s okay to sound the panic alarm. If they can’t improve early in the season at home against a team that would rival the 2008 Detroit Lions as the worst team ever assembled, when are they going to?
Head coach Chuck Pagano needs to tell his players that they need to look in the mirror every day during this bye week and decide if they want to be players in the National Football League. If they can’t grow up and decide a let down against the worst team in the league is not acceptable and work their tails off to never let that happen again, then they don’t need to show up and the Colts need to fill their roster spot with someone who will.
Three plays beat Indianapolis. Just three. Three second half plays beat themselves in a game that should have never been that close. It’s gut check time this bye week. There are still very winnable games on the remainder of the schedule. Wins against Miami, Cleveland, Tennessee and on the road against this same terrible Jaguars team are still on the table. Again, improvement each week is needed and if they improve those are guaranteed four wins. Until then, press the panic button.