INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Chuck Pagano’s message to the Colts following their listless 27-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday was to the point.
It’s a long season.
That in mind, it’ll be curious how the team reacts to T.Y. Hilton’s instant critique of the offense after it suffered its first regular-season shutout in 24 years – it had scored in 375 consecutive games – and allowed the second-most sacks in the team’s 65-year history.
The Colts’ three-time Pro Bowl receiver didn’t hesitate to point out what he saw as a deficient area: the offensive line. Along with allowing 10 sacks of quarterback Jacoby Brissett, the pass protection yielded another 10 hits.
Considering the pressure Brissett faced, how hard was it to get into a rhythm?
“Not at all,’’ Hilton said. “I mean, we were winning our matchups. The O-line just got to play better.’’
What can the receiving corps do to better help Brissett? Wideouts finished with 10 catches and 103 yards on 19 targets. Hilton had two catches for 27 yards on eight targets.
“Far as receiving, nothing can change,’’ Hilton said. “We’ve got to take some pride up front and block for him. What if we put (the linemen) back there and take those hits? We’ve got to start up front.
“Once we get the O-line going and back in rhythm, we will be fine.’’
So, priority one is better protecting Brissett?
“Got to protect him,’’ Hilton said.
No one could come to the defense of the offensive line. The 10 sacks were the most since the Colts allowed a record 12 against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980. They also yielded 10 against Tampa Bay in 1979.
Brissett tried to deflect the blame, insisting he should have made quicker decisions.
“I’ve just got to do a better job of getting the ball out of my hands faster and anticipating some throws,’’ he said. “That’ll take care of everything.’’
Pagano was asked his assessment of the offensive line.
“I would probably say without looking at the film it wasn’t very good,’’ he said. “You credit Jacksonville, right? Ten sacks.
“You’re not going to do much giving up 10 sacks.’’
Center Ryan Kelly agreed.
“That’s not good. Not good enough,’’ he said. “We get paid to do the job to keep the quarterback upright, and if we can’t do that, then we have to get better.
“Obviously 10 is . . . I give (the Jaguars) credit, but not that much credit.’’
- Brissett stuck around: Despite the pounding he took, Brissett had no intention of coming out of the game in the fourth quarter. At one point with time winding down, backup Scott Tolzien was loosening up on the sidelines.
“No, I wasn’t coming out,’’ Brissett said. “I’m the quarterback. I can’t come out.’’
Pagano approached Brissett when the game was out of reach, but “he wasn’t coming out of that game.’’
- Failed QB sneak: It had zero impact on the final outcome, but a failed fourth-and-2 play at the Jacksonville 6-yard line late in the third quarter summed up the Colts’ afternoon.
The Colts took a time out to make certain they had the right play, but then were late getting lined up. As the play clock hit 1 second, Brissett hurriedly took the snap and was smothered for no gain.
“Just a bad play on my part, but we’ve got to be better in those situations,’’ Brissett said.
Pagano disavowed his quarterback of blame.
“It wasn’t designed to happen the way that it happened,’’ he said. “It’s on me. It wasn’t on him. That’s on me.
“We didn’t get the right play in. There was confusion. The kid tried to do the best he could. That’s on me.’’
- Injuries mount: As if another lopsided loss wasn’t enough to digest, the Colts suffered another batch of injuries.
Three defensive starters were lost in the first half: cornerback Rashaan Melvin (concussion), rookie safety Malik Hooker (right knee) and linebacker John Simon (stinger). Hooker was in pursuit of Jaguars’ receiver Allen Hurns on a 50-yard reception when he had his legs cut out from under him in front of the Jacksonville bench. After remaining on the ground for a few minutes, Hooker limped off the field. He refused to ride on a cart.
To start the third quarter, center Ryan Kelly was replaced by Mike Person due to a hamstring injury.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.