There are three factors to why the Indianapolis Colts‘ offense is struggling lately. The first is the offensive line. That five-man unit is arguably the worst in the NFL right now. None of those five should be on an NFL roster. There are high school teams that could protect Andrew Luck better and open more holes in the running game.
The second factor is the loss of Reggie Wayne. It shouldn’t be that big of a factor, but it is. Some guys are stepping up, but that guys who isn’t is the third factor: Darrius Heyward-Bey. Heyward-Bey was supposed to step up and help this team out. Over half of the blame is on the shoulders of the seventh pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He can’t get open and when he does, he drops almost every pass to him.
Teams have figured this out have and forced the Colts to use him to beat them. They know this line can’t block for Luck or open holes in the ground game, so they’re blitzing on nearly every down. They’re bringing the heat with at least six guys and leaving two guys in the secondary double covering T.Y. Hilton.
Hilton and tight end Coby Fleener are the only two who have stepped up since Wayne’s season-ending injury, but teams are now playing them perfectly. By blitzing often, the Colts have to keep Fleener in as an extra blocker. With Hilton being double-covered at the line, he can’t get open quick enough.
That leaves Heyward-Bey single-covered with no safety help over the top. That should be his time to shine. Every receiver dreams of that matchup. They’re daring the Colts to beat them by throwing to DHB. However, he is so afraid of contact he’s not getting open. That, plus breakdowns on the line equals sacks. It’s not rocket science.
It was never more evident than today. When Heyward-Bey finally got wide open, he dropped an easy catch. And by easy, I mean Ray Charles could have caught that. There wasn’t a defender within a 15-yard radius around him. Luck even took some steam off the pass, and he still dropped it.
That and him falling on the next play when the ball was again thrown to him cost the Colts points as they were forced to punt instead of being in the red zone. It’s things like that which have the Colts struggling to put points on the board.
What are they going to do next week against the Cincinnati Bengals, or two weeks later against the Kansas City Chiefs, who are in the top-five on both sacks and interceptions? They can play very tight press coverage and blitz on every down. Those two are playoff teams. The Colts can beat these non-playoff teams, but it’s going to mask the issues until a disappointing playoff loss.
Fault DHB on this. This is likely his last stop in the NFL as he’s a free agent next year, and I don’t think even pee wee level teams would want him.
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.