Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts really want a strong running game,but it’s just not worthy it when it comes at the expense of utilizing the talents of Andrew Luck correctly, waiting too often to go to him in desperate fourth quarter situations instead of right from the start.
Without Ahmad Bradshaw, the Colts’ running game isn’t that impressive, despite the 142 average going into the game with the Chargers. They ended up with only 74 yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry but getting our of their conservative mindset way too late, failing to score a touchdown in their 19-9 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
There were other problems that killed the game for the Colts. Their defense, which has been awful against the run this season and almost traditionally, going back to the best days of the Peyton Manning era. They allowed 147 yards on the ground, and the Colts got to spend more than 38 minutes on offense. They scored only one touchdown, but they complete dominated the clock and the pace of the play, leaving the Colts helpless on too many occasions, managing to sack Rivers only twice.
There was also the dropped passes issue, as the Colts’ receivers dropped four of them during the game, including one big one from Coby Fleener at the end of the second quarter on the Chargers’ 25, pushing the Colts back and forcing them to settle for a 50-yard field goal as the half was ending in a frustrating second quarter that saw the Chargers chew up most of the clock with two very long drives. Darrius Heyward-Bey dropped what likely would have been a long touchdown pass down the right sideline.
We stunk on third down today. A lot of credit to their defense. I think we made our fair share of mistakes, but I think it’s what they did. If we can’t convert third downs and drives continually stall like that, it’s a short rest for our defense and no points for us, so it’s a bad combination.
The Colts were only 2-of-10 on third down situations, and found themselves only once in the Chargers’ redzone; Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton weren’t clean from mistakes, adding a drop each as well. Wayne did have his 1000th reception of his career and has now recorded a reception in 118 straight games, the 3rd longest active streak in the league, trailing Tony Gonzalez and Larry Fitzgerald, with his last game without a catch dating back to January 1, 2006.
Andrew Luck is buying into Pagan’s new focus on the running game, but it doesn’t mean it’s good for the Colts. Teams with special quarterbacks, which Luck probably is, should be aggressive right from the start instead of trying to control the clock before they even score their first touchdown. The Colts have shown this season that patience and smart defense goes a long way against teams like the 49ers and Seahawks, but there’s nothing wrong with going for the kill right from the start, especially when you’re facing an opponent that allows that kind of tactic.