2014 NFL Playoffs: 5 Reasons Why Indianapolis Colts Don’t Have What it Takes
2014 NFL Playoffs: 5 Reasons Why Indianapolis Colts Don't Have What it Takes
The Indianapolis Colts have finished back-to-back seasons at 11-5, and are making their second playoff appearance in as many years under Andrew Luck. The future is bright for this young team, and their young quarterback. However, this is not the year for the Colts. In a year when every team in the AFC Playoffs has a deficiency, and almost every team has a chance to come out of the AFC, the Colts are one of the teams that does not have a chance.
Look, I like the Colts and I hope they do well. Andrew Luck is going to be a stud, and will probably win several Super Bowls, but this season the Colts have too many obstacles to overcome. They are lucky to even be in the playoffs (no pun intended); they have had injuries to four of their skill position players on offense, and a poor offensive line. I honestly have no idea how they even go in. Actually, I do know how they got in, they play in the weakest division in the NFL.
Indianapolis tried to cover up some of their losses with midseason additions, most notably Trent Richardson, but they have all come back to haunt Indy. They gave up a first-round pick for Richardson, and he has repaid them by being one of the worst running backs in the league. It doesn't really matter that the Colts struggle in the running game; there are plenty of teams that barely run the ball nowadays, but the fact that the Colts don't have a big-play receiver and they can't run the ball will equal disaster in the playoffs.
There are many reasons why Indianapolis won't be representing the AFC in the Super Bowl, but I narrowed it down to the biggest five reasons why.
Follow Robbie on Twitter @rmarbury
5. Bad Special Teams
When it comes to kicking, the Colts have have one of the best combos with kicker Adam Vinatieri and punter Pat McAfee, but after that the Colts special teams has a drastic fall off. They have some of the worst returners in the league. Indy is 14th in both kick return yards and punt return yards. Middle of the pack is the best that you could consider their return game, and their coverage isn't up to par either. This season, the Indianapolis has given up the second-most yards per punt return, and the sixth most yards per kick return. As far as returning kicks goes, their longest return is 39 yards, and their longest punt return is 51 yards. Outside of the kickers, they are truly awful. In the postseason, where every team is good and every yard and possession matter, the Colts are going to draw the short straw every time.
4. Inconsistent Defense
Indianapolis has been the Jekyll and Hyde team of the NFL this season, and most notably on the defensive side of the ball. They have given up 27 or more points in six games this season, and given up 38 or more three times, but somehow ended up the season ranked ninth in points allowed this season with 21.0 points allowed points per game. The Colts had this season's leading sacker, Robert Mathis, but finished tied for 11th in the league in total team sacks. Indianapolis was third in turnover margin this season, but were tied for 15th in takeaways. There is no consistency, and in some cases no logic in the way that this team played defense this season. With an offense that is lacking explosiveness they will need to get turnovers, or force three-and-outs, which they are more than capable of doing, but you just don't know when you can count on them to produce. If the team that held San Francisco to seven points shows up they can beat anyone, but chance are that isn't what will be on the field.
3. Lack of Playmakers
A team can bounce back when they lose their No. 1 wide receiver or their No. 1 tight end, or their No. 1 and 2 running back, but when a team loses all of those they stand no chance, and that is the spot that Indianapolis is in. The Colts have done a nice job of covering up some of their holes; they traded for Trent Richardson, and they signed Griff Whalen and Da'Rick Rogers, but that isn't enough. You cannot replace Reggie Wayne, Ahmad Bradshaw, Vick Ballard and Dwayne Allen with midseason signees. They have lacked explosiveness, and tried making up for it with Richardson, but he has been awful (I'll get into that in a few slides.) Andrew Luck does not have one wide receiver that averages 14 yards per catch. Everything the Colts do on offense is in the manner of dink-and-dunk, but they don't have the skill-position players to turn a short pass in to a big play.
2. Poor Play From Offensive Line
I love when people want to talk about how the Colts were stupid for releasing Peyton Manning, and how they should have kept him because he is still the best quarterback in the league. If Manning played behind this offensive line, he would be dead. That isn't an opinion; it's a fact. Andrew Luck spends most Sunday afternoons running for his life, or having to get rid of a ball too soon because he has a defensive lineman in his lap. According to ProFootballFocus.com the Colts rank 26th in pass blocking and 24th in run blocking. The Colts are the only playoff team to be in the bottom 10 in both categories, and only Seattle and San Diego are bottom 10 in either category, but both teams rank ahead of Indianapolis in both blocking metrics. When there are no holes for the running backs, and not enough time for plays to develop downfield, there will be very few points on the scoreboard.
1. Trent Richardson is Really Bad
Not only has Richardson been a waste of a future first-round pick, he has been terrible for them. Since joining the Colts, Richardson is averaging 2.9 yards per carry, and his longest run was for 22 yards. To say he lacks big-play potential is an understatement. The worst part about Richardson is that the Colts still give him carries, and I don't know why. Indy has Donald Brown, who is averaging 5.3 yards per carry, and has double the touchdown production of Richardson (six to three) with 52 less attempts. Brown ranks first in the league in yards after contact with 3.28 yards per carry and Richardson ranks 43rd with 1.9 yards per carry after contact. Indianapolis' insistence on playing Richardson over Brown will prevent them from advancing in the playoffs.