Who’s more disappointing right now? Maybe the Cincinnati Bengals because they cannot protect Joe Burrow. Maybe the Las Vegas Raiders because they thought they were loaded but have lost a couple of close games.
And maybe the Indianapolis Colts lead the disappointment pack because they came into this season expecting not only to be a playoff-caliber team, but perhaps even to challenge for a Super Bowl championship.
Now after two weeks, the Colts are 0-1-1. That’s not season-defining but certainly is season-depressing because of how and against whom they have played.
Sunday the Colts laid an ostrich-sized egg against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a 24-0 whitewashing in which the offense managed only nine first downs and the defense made Trevor Lawrence seem like he’s arrived.
“We’re two games into it. We’re 0-1-1,” coach Frank Reich said. “We’re two games into it, and we’re 0-1-1. It’s a long season. We’ll take our medicine for the pathetic performance today, coaches and players.”
Plenty Of Blame To Go Around
The Colts, you’ll recall, lost the season-finale to the Jaguars last season with a playoff berth hanging in the balance. That loss cost quarterback Carson Wentz his job because coaches, the personnel department and ownership somehow lost all confidence in him.
So who’s fault is it now?
Because the Colts were worse on Sunday against the Jaguars than they were in that costly 2021 game.
This loss left Reich answering a question about whether he’d spoken to owner Jim Irsay after the game, the obvious implication being Irsay might have been so upset he might need to speak to the coach about making changes.
Reich replied the two men had not spoken. But that was his only real answer while he was questioning everything and promising to evaluate everyone — including himself.
“Everything gets evaluated, top to bottom,” Reich promised. “Coaches, players. I get evaluated. Everybody gets evaluated.”
That’s a tough assignment because the Colts were bad in a lot of different ways. So let’s account for those:
Matt Ryan Has Historically Bad Day
Matt Ryan was terrible against the Jaguars, throwing three interceptions in a game for the first time in his 223-game career spanning 15 seasons. He finished with a quarterback rating of 34.0, which as one might guess, is putrid.
“Yeah, I’ve got to play better,” Ryan understated afterward. “There’s no doubt about that. I think as a group we all have to play better, too. Credit to Jacksonville. I thought they did a good job,
played well, but we have to set a certain standard for ourselves.
“Every week we have to show up, and we’ve got to be ready to go. In the first two weeks we haven’t done that.”
Ryan was outplayed by Lawrence, who completed 25 of 35 passes with 2 TDs and no interceptions.
Frank Reich Miscalculated
Reich was certain — CERTAIN! — his team was prepared for this game. He was sure the plan was good and motivation was high.
And he was wrong on all those counts. The Colts started slow and didn’t get much better as the game wore on. At points the team was, well, listless.
“Coming off our performance last week, the intensity at practice was at an all-time high, even the intensity in meetings last night,” Reich said. “Honestly, I mean, it’s not about speeches or anything, but the intensity of the meetings last night, the ferocity of the players all week long, wanting us to coach them, wanting to get back on track.
“I don’t feel it’s a lack of motivation. I just feel it’s a lack of we got out-coached and we got outplayed.”
Jonathan Taylor Disappoints
The running game?
That’s all but disappeared. Indy has 2021 rushing champion Jonathan Taylor as a primary weapon. Except the weapon was something of a water pistol, gaining 54 yards on nine carries, including 4 yards on five carries in the first half.
This isn’t just a Taylor issue. This is Taylor and the blocking up front, just like when Taylor goes off it is him and the blocking up front. The Jaguars limited the Colts to three rushing first downs.
“Certainly played with confidence today,” Ryan said of the Jaguars. “I give them credit. They played well.”
So where does this go now? Can the Colts, expecting so much and delivering so little, change course?
“I’ve played in a lot of games and I’ve got my ass kicked before, I know that much,” Ryan said. “It’s all about how you respond. You get up off the floor.
“…Every week is going to be tough. It happens to you sometimes, but one [loss] can’t turn into two. You have to pick yourself back up, have a great week of preparation, and make sure we have a better performance next week.”
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