The Indianapolis Colts look a lot like they did last season. Some of the names might have changed, but the narratives remain the same.
Andrew Luck still plays better as he gets angrier. Trent Richardson is still riding the struggle bus. Reggie Wayne is still a national treasure. The defense is still unfortunately break-don’t-bend. The offensive line still has too many duct tape moments. Third downs and red zone efficiency are still disaster areas, and no game will ever be “over” until the bitter, bitter end.
Other than racking up a lot more penalties (the Colts were best in the league last year at avoiding yellow flags) and hopefully avoiding the injury bug, Colts fans are looking at a repeat of last season, and I’ll take it.
One major difference for me is that this was the first game since 1998 where I was able to completely divorce my rooting interests from Peyton Manning. The Colts’ play-callers in all three facets of the game dared Manning to hit them with his best shot, a tactic that included fourth-down attempts and an onside kick.
If only they’d let Pat McAfee attempt the long field goal after their first failed series of downs. After the offsides penalty negated Adam Vinatieri‘s miss, I hoped they’d let him try. Why not? By the end, they seemed willing to throw everything else at the wall, and a lot of it stuck. The Colts have shown that they play best when they play bold.
The Colts are once again an enigma, which means every single week is going to be must-see TV and we’ll all think twice about starting any of these guys in fantasy. They let a loaded Denver Broncos team escape, which means they shouldn’t be scared of anyone. Last season’s come-from-behind win against the Kansas City Chiefs will be in the backs of everyone’s minds for the rest of Luck’s career, and that narrative isn’t going away.
The only new question marks to keep an eye on are the deteriorating chemistry between Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton and what to do with Coby Fleener.
I’ve often struggled with Fleener as a fan, though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why. Fleener’s my go-to scapegoat, the one who makes me roll my eyes and mutter his name. Against the Broncos, whenever a throw was getting almost intercepted, he seemed to be involved and I refused to ever blame Luck for anything. I can accept being wrong about this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this narrative rears its romance novel-worthy profile at some point.
As for Hilton, this marks the second game in a row (counting the preseason game against the New Orleans Saints) in which something seemed just a little off. As the chemistry between Hilton and Luck goes, so goes the entire team. Hilton was 5-for-11 (yikes) for 41-yards, and the misses seemed to come in really unfortunate, possibly game-changing moments.
One wonders if something might be wrong with Hilton (health or confidence), or if he might not quite be pushing himself as hard as he once did for one reason or another.
Before the season started, I predicted that the Colts would start 0-2 before winning their typical 10-plus games and making the playoffs. After tonight’s performance, if they lose to the Philadelphia Eagles next week, I’ll be severely disappointed.