The Indianapolis Colts have gone from NFL‘s elite to a mid-pack team. Prior to the bye week, they were 5-2 and looking like a legit Super Bowl contender. Since, they’re 2-2 with four straight terrible performances and two bad losses. Now, everyone is trying to pick up the pieces and investigate what went wrong.
The biggest reason many are coming up with is the injury bug that’s hit the Colts. A big loss was wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who went down right before the bye week. There’s been tons of issues on the offensive side of the ball since then, and many are blaming the team’s recent struggles on the loss of his veteran presence.
That’s not a good enough excuse. Sure, Wayne is a big loss and is missed, but they still have talent. T.Y. Hilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, LaVon Brazill and Coby Fleener are all good enough to get by. They have a star in Andrew Luck throwing to them. I know these guys fail to get open and drop a lot of balls, but that goes to coaching and preparing for opponents.
Why are the Seattle Seahawks an NFL-best 10-1 right now? They have been without receivers Golden Tate, Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. All three have been injured, as they have yet to have all three play a game together. No, none of them are injured on a Wayne-like level yet, but that’s like the Colts losing Wayne, Hilton and Heyward-Bey.
Where do you think they’d be without all three of them? They can barely cope with a loss of Wayne, what if they lost all three?
The Seahawks are getting by with receivers like Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, and also tight end Zach Miller. If they can get it done, why can’t the Colts? Indianapolis’ receiving corps doesn’t look so bad with Seattle having to lean on guys like Baldwin and Kearse. At least the Colts still have Hilton, Heyward-Bey, Brazill and Fleener.
I know some will say that Russell Wilson gets more protection, but that’s not entirely true either. Wilson’s been sacked 29 times this year and has had to deal with o-line injuries as well. They’ve had plenty of injuries on the offensive front, but are still doing enough to get by. The difference between the two teams is effort and coaching.
The Seahawks have a good coach in Pete Carroll as the players have bought in and give 100-percent effort every game. They’re well prepared and are put in situations where they can thrive. The same can’t be said for Indianapolis as Chuck Pagano hasn’t done a good job in leading this team and getting effort out of them for all 60 minutes of a game. He doesn’t prepare them well and doesn’t put them into good plays or situations.
So before we blame the loss of Wayne or other injuries, just take a look out west and see how well a team with very similar circumstances are adapting to it — and how the Colts are not.
Eric Smith is the Colts Beat Writer for Rant Sports. He’s covered the team the past four seasons and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Colts. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru