The Indianapolis Colts are very close to the point of realizing that in order to make something out of the Andrew Luck era, they’re going to have to make radical changes, which begin with firing head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.
A perfect example of the mess the 1-3 Colts are operating in? They didn’t re-sign linebacker Jerrell Freeman in the offseason. They released a new starter, Nate Irving, last month. Now they’re cutting the guy who replaced him, Sio Moore. They’re also releasing Antonio Cromartie. Two starters. This means panic, and an organization that might not have a solid plan: Simply shuffle around Luck, and hope for the best. It worked for three years (2012-2014) as the Colts made the playoffs, advancing one stage at a time. Luck was injured last season for half of it and the Colts missed the playoffs. A healthy Luck this season hasn’t been enough.
“A lot of people are wanting to criticize Andrew Luck instead of really in my opinion going after what the big problem is.” @ReggieWayne_17
— NFL Media (@NFLMedia) October 4, 2016
So where is the blame? Pagano’s coaching? Probably a big part of it. Even while the Colts were winning, it always seemed to be happening surrounded by unhappiness and dissatisfaction from how the Colts are playing and utilizing Luck. The same can be said of Grigson, who some of his choices, especially giving up a first round pick for Trent Richardson, haven’t exactly led to short term or long term benefits for the Colts.
The Colts seem to be operating in a very predictable mode this season, losing two of their games by 4 points or less. Doing terribly in the first three quarters, and then finally giving Luck the opportunity to play fast and throw the ball, which usually leads to great results. He doesn’t have the most talented of playmakers around him or the best of offensive lines. Making this team a no-huddle or something similar in terms of offense is probably the best way to utilize its most talented player, especially after giving him so much money in the offseason.
Luck has an NFL high six touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, and after leading the NFL last season in fourth-quarter QBR according to ESPN, he’s sixth so far in 2016. In the first three quarters, he has only two touchdowns while being sacked 10 times through the first four games, helping strengthen the point we made above.
The Colts did make some offensive line moves in the draft, which could suggest there’s been some demands from Luck and his agent: Center Ryan Kelly was taken in the first round, offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark was taken in the third round. Kelly was an All-American in Alabama. Clark was a 3-time first-team All Big 12 during his time with Texas Tech. But the Colts seem to be at least a season away, and more pieces than that, from giving Luck the tools he needs to have his kind of team.
And if this season ends up like the previous one, despite the Colts always being one play from winning the game instead of simply getting blown out, Pagano and Grigson won’t continue. Pagano might be 42-26 as a head coach, but his and Grigson’s tenure has taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way, and with the Colts fearing that their pursuit of Luck will end up with nothing if they stay on this course for much longer, aren’t going to give the both of them too much credit for things that happened prior to 2015.