by Kent Sterling
If at this time yesterday, you put together a list of the top 10 reasons the Indianapolis Colts are 3-5 halfway through what was expected to be a season that ended in a Super Bowl, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s work would not have been one of them.
At least I don’t think it would be.
Yet Hamilton was fired yesterday as though his being replaced by Rob Chudzinski will cure the ills of the NFL’s most disappointing team.
Maybe it will, but if Chud will be a better OC eight games into the 2015 season, why wasn’t he seen in that light prior to the season. Who made this decision, and if it’s the right one, why wasn’t it made nine months ago?
Here are eight reasons for the Colts foundering at the midway point of the 2015 season:
Andrew Luck is not delivering the ball on time or on target. Scheme has little to do with Luck’s wobbly performances throughout his three-and-a-half year career. He was erratic as a rookie, and has continued to exercise occasional lapses in judgment that have caused numerous interceptions – and many more near misses.
Trent Richardson sucked. If the brains of offensive geniuses Tom Moore and Don Coryell were fused to become the Stephen Hawking of how to matriculate the football down the field, Trent Richardson still would have averaged 3.1 yards per carry because he was fat.
Bjoern Werner was not worthy of a first round draft pick. Nothing against him – he seems like a very nice guy who is only capable of playing as well as he can – but Le’Veon Bell, DeAndre Hopkins, Kewann Short, Travis Frederick, Alec Ogletree, and Cordarrelle Patterson were all taken shortly after Werner, and all would be a difference maker for the Colts that Werner isn’t. Second guessing drafts is shooting fish in a barrel, and can be an unfair way to measure a GM, but this was an enormous mistake.
Being ranked last in the NFL in turnover ratio has two parts – turnovers allowed and turnovers forced. The Colts offense has nothing to do with the lack of turnovers forced by the defense. No pressure on the quarterback makes the secondary vulnerable to big plays and keeps turnovers from being generated in bulk.
The most valuable player for the Colts is punter Pat McAfee.
Maybe the Colts would have been better off keeping Peyton Manning and dealing the #1 pick. Allowing Peyton Manning to leave for Denver was the logical move at the time because of his health, but if the Colts had traded the draft rights to Andrew Luck and kept Manning, the bounty reaped would have been greater than what the Rams received for the #2 pick in the same draft – three first round picks and a second. The Rams spun those picks into a total of seven productive players. Not saying I was smart enough to see that as a solid strategy as I was totally on board with drafting Luck and parting with Manning, but could Manning seven or more high draft picks found a way to greater success than Luck plus the pieces GM Ryan Grigson has cobbled together?
Colts offensive line against Bills and Eagles was chosen by Grigson. The decision to try to protect Luck with Jack Mewhort as a right tackle and Todd Herremans at guard belonged to Grigson, and it was a train wreck that put Luck under duress.
Jim Irsay and Grigson refused to offer Pagano a meaningful extension. Because Pagano came into the season as a lame duck, his decision making has been erratic. This decision started dominos falling that make Pagano leaving the Colts likely. It can’t be said with certainty that Pagano would not have dipped deep into his bag of tricks for a fake punt scheme against the Patriots that proved disastrous for a variety of reasons, but he’s never done it before.
There are eight pretty good reasons that the Colts are underachieving in 2015, and only three have anything at all to do with Hamilton – McAfee MVP, Luck interceptions, and offensive turnovers. You can’t really blame Hamilton for fumbles though.
Hamilton is gone because the pressure cooker needed to breath a little bit, and Hamilton packing his stuff this morning is going to give both Grigson and Pagano a few weeks of grace where Irsay’s expectations won’t be nearly as daunting to reach.
That Hamilton being fired was seen by someone in a position to fire him as a solution to a problem with the Colts is likely a symptom of the bigger issues that have brought this team to the precipice of completely unraveling.