This won’t come as a great shock to Indianapolis Colts fans who have watched their team get off to an 0-2 start, but the Colts are not going to win a championship this season despite their hopes and dreams to the contrary.
Hope is a miserable companion because it almost always leads to disappointment, and minus one season of the last 38, Colts fans have invested hope fruitlessly. It’s difficult to get to the playoffs, much less win a championship, and an 0-2 start makes a playoff berth difficult to attain. Only 11% of teams are able to scramble back from an 0-2 start to punch their postseason tickets.
Fans should have known the Colts were destined for mediocrity in 2021. The Super Bowl 41 championship roster included Hall of Famers at quarterback and wide receiver. They also had a pair of defensive ends who might one day be enshrined in Canton and another wide receiver whose ticket will eventually punched. Add to that a healthy postseason for the briefly incandescent safety Bob Sanders, the consistent excellence of left tackle Tarik Glenn, center Jeff Saturday, and the best kicker in NFL history, and you can see how good those Colts were.
These Colts have a quarterback who holds onto the ball so long injury is inevitable, cornerbacks who are challenged in the art of pass coverage, and wide receivers who have yet to blossom. The best players are a left guard and will linebacker. You’ll notice the best players on the championship Colts did not include players at those two positions.
Simply put, Chris Ballard and company have not put together a championship roster. That doesn’t mean Ballard is bad at his job. It means there are 31 other general managers are also trying hard to win and finding a championship level quarterback – which is needed to contend year after year – is really tough. That is especially true when drafting outside the top 10 each year.
I don’t mean to spew negativity on your Corn Flakes this morning, but these Colts were stitched together with colorful but wispy thread. Ballard has swung for the fences 11 times with second round picks during his five drafts, and has hit three home runs (Darius Leonard, Braden Smith, and Jonathan Taylor). There have been four misses (Quincy Wilson, Ben Banogu, Kemoko Turay, and Parris Campbell), and another three somewhere in between (Michael Pittman, Rock Ya-Sin, and Tyquan Lewis). We have no data suggesting what Dayo Odeyingbo will be when healthy.
It’s possible the Colts can get the season back on track, but there is no evidence through two games that it’s likely. And all are guilty for the problems that plague them. In no particular order, here are six areas of weakness have have doomed the 2021 Colts:
- The roster is mediocre at positions that require talent, and talented at spots that allow for mediocrity.
- Culture may be too high a priority for management. Football games are not always won by players you would be comfortable dating your daughter. The Colts are a bunch of really smart and diligent guys. Maybe they need some rabid dogs among the show ponies.
- Coach Frank Reich is far too eager to trust the big brains with the fancy math degrees when a chart shows a team gains a statistical advantage by going for it on fourth down. Math literacy is not a prerequisite for winning football games. That is why Alabama wins CFP championships while MIT doesn’t have a football program.
- Depth at tackle has been a problem. Look, no team’s backups are as good as their starters, and investing serious cap room to secure a capable third tackle is a questionable use of resources, but the backup turnstiles the Colts have been forced to use at tackle are forcing the offense to dink, dunk, and screen their way to impotence.
- After 13 years of quarterback Peyton Manning never missing a start, the Colts have endured 11 starters over the last 11 seasons with a 12th coming this Sunday in Nashville if Carson Wentz‘s ankle doesn’t heal quickly.
- Injuries have dogged this team for years. The Colts continue to hope that luck will eventually be on their side, but the spate of wounded Colts being unable to practice and play has been unending. Resources are poured into studies about how to conduct training camp and build resilience for the long season, but again and again failures doom them.
That’s enough negativity for one day.
The Colts have a critical game this Sunday against the Titans. With a win, all things remain possible – if not likely. I’ll try to focus on that throughout this week, rather than on the obvious and annoying negatives.
This seems like one of those seasons that requires we cling to whatever hope exists for as long as we can.