Colts got needed win, but issues remain
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In the bottom-line business that is the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts were in no mood to apologize for their latest business venture.
You know, Sunday’s 29-23 nod over the Chicago Bears that too often was lacking in aesthetics.
“It was a big win for a lot of reasons,’’ coach Chuck Pagano said Monday. “Just what the doctor ordered for this building, this organization, everybody at West 56th.
“It’s a totally different world, it’s a totally different feel obviously when you win. Something you can build on.’’
The victory breathed life into the team, lifting it to 2-3 and giving it the opportunity to grab a share of the AFC South lead Sunday night at Houston.
“It was pivotal,’’ veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said after the Bears game. “I’m sure weeks from now we’re going to look back on this game and say, ‘You know what? We needed that one.’
“One-and-4 does not sound good here in Indianapolis. Not anywhere.’’
But while the Colts averted what could have been a debilitating loss, they’d be delusional to believe one game – one critical win – cured what’s been ailing them. At the risk of raining on their day-after parade, here are some issues that can’t be ignored:
Hoyer’s career day. While the defense turned away a pair of Chicago threats in the final 4 minutes, it also yielded 522 total yards, including a career-high 397 passing yards to Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer!
The defense ranks 30th in yards allowed per game (410.6). For perspective, consider the Colts have allowed at least 400 yards per game in a season once in its 63-year history – 424.6 yards in 1981. That team finished 2-14.
Where are the playmakers? The defense – notice a trend yet? – lacks anyone resembling a playmaker. It has just one interception, five takeaways and seven sacks. The inability to muster a pass rush is stressing the secondary. Opposing QBs are completing 70.1 percent of their passes and have a 104.9 passer rating.
While we’re on the pass rush, everyone’s still waiting for Robert Mathis to make an appearance. Through five games, the Colts’ career sack leader has been on the field for 215 snaps and generated zero sacks, one quarterback hit and 10 tackles. Mathis has been bothered by a foot injury the last couple of weeks and had a knee issue during training camp.
“We all want to see Rob do well and Rob wants to see Rob do well,’’ Pagano said. “We’ll continue to figure out ways to make that happen.’’
Offensive line shuffle: The ever-shifting offensive line is making life difficult for Andrew Luck. He was sacked five times by a Bears defense that had six in the previous four games. He’s been sacked 11 times the last two games – Peyton Manning was sacked 10 times in 2009 – and 20 on the season. The Colts are on pace to yield 64 sacks, which would eclipse the team record of 62 (1997).
“We’ve got to be better,’’ Pagano said. “We’ve got to get it corrected . . . but there is improvement.’’
Luck played behind a different starting line for a fourth straight game and for the 33rd time in his 60 regular-season games.
Too many penalties: The avalanche of penalties continued Sunday with nine for 68 yards. That’s 39 on the season. Only Oakland (49), the Rams (42) and Jacksonville and Detroit (41 each) have more. The only saving grace has been the opponents being sloppier – 47 penalties for 429 yards.
Injury issues: In keeping with a season teeming with injuries, we give you Darius Butler. The veteran cornerback fractured a finger late against the Bears and is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday to insert a plate. His status for the Texans game is uncertain.
Butler had missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury. He missed the season opener with an ankle injury.