The loss of Vick Ballard was a huge hit for this team, but there is no time for sulking as the Colts will have to march into Candlestick Park next weekend to face an extraordinarily talented and angry San Francisco 49ers squad after they got exposed by the Seattle Seahawks. In fact, over the next few weeks, the Colts have one of the toughest schedules in the league.
After the 49ers game, they will get a reprieve in facing the Jacksonville Jaguars, but then it gets hairy as the Colts will see the: Seahawks, San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans and an extremely improved St. Louis Rams squad in that order.
While Ballard wasn’t the fastest or most talented back, he was imperative to this offense and new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Without Ballard, the Colts have to rely on an oft-injured Ahmad Bradshaw and the disappointing Donald Brown to get it done, which doesn’t bode well long-term.
While Bradshaw was fairly effective in his 15 carries on Sunday in averaging over four yards per tote, he will no doubt find himself sidelined with injury before the season ends. In fact, Bradshaw has only appeared in all 16 games in a season once in his seven-year career, and his chronic foot problems have been well documented.
When that day comes, Brown will be left with feature back duties, and even though he is speedy and talented, that’s a scary prospect for any Colts fan. In hindsight, it’s unfathomable that Brown was taken almost a full round before the Philadelphia Eagles‘ LeSean McCoy in the 2009 NFL draft. Wouldn’t the team love that pick back?
If the Colts perform the way they did Sunday, the only win that seems reasonable to grant them during this upcoming stretch would be the matchup against the Rams, which would leave them at 3-6 entering week 10. However, that’s not to say they can’t get hot even against these tough teams because there’s still a lot of talent on the roster; but without Ballard, Andrew Luck will have to be superb to make that happen.
The fate of the season rests squarely on Luck’s broad shoulders. If he’s to succeed, he’s going to have to do his best Peyton Manning impression. No one in the history of the league has covered up his team’s shortcomings better than No.18, but he’s not coming through that door. If Luck’s unable to channel his inner Manning, fans may find themselves looking forward to the 2014 season before long.