NFL Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts: Five Things to Improve On After the Bye Week

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Indianapolis Colts: Five Things to Improve On After the Bye Week

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The Indianapolis Colts have a bye week for Week Four of the 2012 NFL regular season. So far, they've been doing much better than expected, or at least much better than their horrendous start last season.

With Andrew Luck in and Peyton Manning out, the new era of Colts football has been looking pretty good so far.

A new defense is now in place under a 3-4. A new system on offense as the Colts look to bring in more of the run game and run under the formation of two-tight end sets more with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne is also being moved around a lot more as well.

A lot of things have happened under the franchise in these past three weeks. Before the season began, they made a huge deal, acquiring cornerback Vontae Davis from the Miami Dolphins. However, Indianapolis opened up Week One to a 41-21 defeat to the Chicago Bears, allowing big passes left and right.

In Week Two, the Colts were able to grab their first victory of the season in a 23-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings, thanks to a game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri in the final and closing seconds. However, the Colts weren’t able to finish strong enough as they let the Vikings practically come back in the game late in the fourth quarter.

Things got worse in Week Three after a loss at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a game that they were supposed to win, but they let Jacksonville come back fast in the second half and they ended up winning thanks to an 80-yard touchdown pass in the final minute.

With that, the Colts stand at 1-2 currently for the season. They have a lot of issues to address, though it is still early in the season. However, with this bye week in place, here are five things the Colts should look to improve on before heading out for their next game in Week Five.

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Run Game

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The Colts entered this season looking to use the run game more instead of being so passing-focused like they have been for the past few years under Manning. For the past few seasons, the offensive line hasn't been able to step up to help the rushing attack, which led to struggles for Joseph Addai and Donald Brown.

However, last season, the Colts saw their running game turn back around. The more they started getting carries in for Brown and Delone Carter, the more they kept getting their rushing average up.

Brown has shown promise this season, as it could be a breakout year. He's had his flashes, like having Luck's first touchdown pass in the pre-season, big rushes and a big pass for a big gain just last week versus the Jaguars. He has been getting the majority of the carries, but hasn't shown much for it.

With only 155 rushing yards, a touchdown and 3.6 yards averaged per carry so far this season, it doesn't look so pretty. However, most of the blame can't go all on Brown. The offensive line also plays its part, which is probably the weakest link of the team.

What the Colts need to do is run the ball more. Get more carries in and find a rhythm. It worked last season and it got Brown averaging nearly five yards per carry. It can work. Otherwise, if Luck is leading the team in rushing in some games, it's not good at all.

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The Secondary

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The secondary has improved significantly when the Colts were able to get Davis from the Dolphins in a trade. He is easily the team's top cornerback now on the roster. Adding to that, with Jerraud Powers as the team's second corner, the Colts' secondary should be dominating right now.

So far, that hasn't exactly been the case. Though they are in the top-half of the league in passing yards allowed, much of the credit needs to go to the team's strong pass-rush. The secondary still has a lot of issues to fix with guarding receivers, as evidently shown in all three games as the Bears receivers destroyed the secondary, the Vikings came back at a weak secondary along with the Jaguars.

Davis is still rusty, but the secondary still has some work to do. With 13 more games left, they have a lot of time to fix their issues.

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Protecting Andrew Luck

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

As said before, the weakest link of this Colts team is the offensive line. Jeff Saturday, who is arguably the greatest offensive lineman to put on a Colts uniform, is gone. Tarik Glenn has been gone.

The best Indianapolis has got is Anthony Castonzo, but he's still young and has some work to do being the guy that guards Luck's blind side. Even with that, the Colts offensive line needs to improve on their job guarding Luck.

Luck got a real taste of what the NFL defensive lines were like against the Bears, getting sacked several times and throwing three interceptions and having a fumble because of that. Despite ranking 12th in the league for passing yards, they've earned that the hard way.

Luck wouldn't be having four interceptions on the season right now if it weren't for the poor o-line. Protecting Luck better will help and it will give Luck more time to be cool and calm in the pocket and making more smart passes.

Luck has shown that he can be very dangerous when he has more than one or two seconds to make a decision after the snap. If he keeps getting hit and making questionable decisions or so, the Colts could be seeing themselves having a David Carr. And owner Jim Irsay would not appreciate that.

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Staying Healthy

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Staying healthy has always been a problem for the Colts since the 2010 season.

Injuries have happened to many important players on this team, such as Manning, Bob Sanders, Gary Brackett, Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie; all players who have seen their career fully or possibly end.

And it's still a problem to this date. Collie has already had a concussion this season, his fourth in two years. His season was just put to an end as well after he blew out his left knee after the loss to the Jaguars last week.

Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney has also been out, only playing about four minutes so far this season in the first quarter in the Week One loss to the Bears. Since then, he's been trying to heal from a sprained ankle. He will be needed, as Robert Mathis can't do all the work and that Jerry Hughes is still developing.

Vontae Davis has also been a little banged up this season and he will need to be healthy as he will be the top defensive back for the team this season.

Though staying healthy is a tough task to do, since it can't really be controlled most of the time, it's still a factor that plays a part for the Colts this season.

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Finishing Out Games

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

This has been a problem for the past two games of the season. The Bears game was ended before the second half even began. However, versus the Vikings and Jaguars: those were inexcusable.

The Vikings game was a close one, but there was no excuse for Indianapolis bringing Minnesota right back. They led 20-6 for much of the game until Minnesota made a big comeback to tie the game up late in the game. Thanks to a game-winning field goal by Vinatieri, everything else was forgotten.

It was not until the loss to the Jaguars where things had to be worked on. The Colts led 14-3 at halftime but brought Jacksonville right back as they led 16-14 soon after. A Vinatieri field goal in the final minute would put the Colts up 17-16. It looked like a win here as the Colts would improve to 2-1.

Not so fast. Jacksonville would come right back on the next play as Blaine Gabbert found Cecil Shorts for the 80-yard touchdown. It would eventually give Jacksonville a 22-17 victory.

For the Colts to win any games, they need to close them out. They can't tone their tempo and bring the team right back in the game for a chance to win, like they have been doing these past few weeks. This is a big thing to fix and No. 1 thing to look for the next coming weeks.