JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An echo reverberated throughout the Colts’ locker room after a 24-0 shut out loss in Jacksonville.
“We got outplayed in all three phases.”
“This game is about all three phases clicking on all cylinders. We weren’t able to come together like that.”
“We didn’t execute from the start, offense, defense, (or) special teams. All around, we were just not good today.”
“You can’t do that, as a collective effort. We always talk about playing complimentary football.”
The names behind those quotes are not overly relevant for this story, and perhaps in a day where there was no lack of blame to go around, signaling out one group’s specific failure provides an incomplete picture of the problems the Colts face moving forward. In fact, that’s certainly true.
And yet, when a franchise has invested in that one group so heavily, as the Colts have in their offensive line, its failures become more pronounced.
Trading for a quarterback like Matt Ryan and hoping his veteran leadership could be the missing piece the offense needed to thrive only works when he has time to throw. The Jaguars sacked Ryan five times Sunday.
“Credit to Jacksonville,” said Ryan after the game. “I thought they played well, but we need to set a certain standard for ourselves that we’ve gotta show up and be ready to go, and in the first two weeks, we haven’t done that.”
Again to be fair to the o-line, Ryan was not specifically talking about them, but he was doing so generally, lumping them in with all the Colts where were not “ready to go”.
Also, building an offense around a franchise running back, who’s unique blend of speed, agility, and power is arguably unmatched in the NFL, only works when he has lanes to run through. Jonathan Taylor finished the first half with five rushes for four yards.
“On Sundays, we have to put it together, as the players,” says Taylor, who would sooner renounce his Wisconsin Badgers than speak poorly of a specific teammate or group of teammates, especially his line. “We know we work. We know we watch film. We know we study. We know we do everything we can, but as a whole, we need to put it into execution on the field on Sundays.”
The Colts offensive line includes a pair of first round picks, one second rounder, one fifth, and one sixth. They have the highest paid guard in NFL history, a center who signed a deal that (at the time) made him the highest paid center in the league, and a right tackle who signed a top-three deal in the league (again, at the time of the deal).
“We’ve all showed glimpses of greatness,” center Ryan Kelly explained postgame, “We just didn’t play five-as-one today. You don’t play five-as-one, you can’t win games.”
The two-time Pro Bowler Kelly isn’t shying away from the fact that improvement is necessary.
“I know our team needs us to be better,” he says. “We will be better. I know we’ve got the veterans in the room to do it. We’ve just got to play five-as-one. Right now, we’re playing four-as-one on this play, four-as-one on this play, growing pains in the NFL, but we gotta pick it up now.”