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Sunday, October 30, 2011
Colts need to be smarter, more aggressive

By Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The stuff I wanted to see from the Indianapolis Colts would have strayed from the sort of approach you could call “The Colts’ way.”

Jim Caldwell
Head coach Jim Caldwell has not had the answers for many of the Colts' problems this season.
But guess what? When you’re heading for 0-8 without one of the league’s all-time greats in your lineup, you need to find something new.

When “we do what we do” goes by the wayside because you can’t do it, what do you do? Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Titans at LP Field did little to answer the question.

I have two primary points of contention with the way coach Jim Caldwell and his staff handled the game.

The return game: Joe Lefeged brought kickoffs out of the end zone from 5 yards deep, 6 yards deep and 3 yards deep and didn’t scare the 20-yard line. He left 18 yards on the field he could have gotten by taking a knee.

Caldwell said it was as much the failures of the blockers to do what was outlined for them as it was the return man.

But the Colts have been a poor special teams team for a long time. Maybe they figure all the short returns are worth the trade for the home run they will hit someday. But I don’t care what kind of great plan you drew up and what kind of great practice week you had bringing balls out of the end zone. It’s simply not realistic to expect that all of a sudden things will open up for you.

With Peyton Manning running the offense, a lost 5 or 8 yards at the start of a drive is no big deal. With Curtis Painter and the current team on the field, you need every yard you can get.

So doing what they were doing was simply not reasoned out well enough.

Going for it: Indianapolis was down 20-0 at the half. That’s a big deficit. I understand we’ve seen teams storm back from that and more this season, and that everyone is optimistic about their halftime adjustments. But for these Colts, being overly optimistic is irrational.

On nine possessions in the first half, the Colts had not gotten closer to the Titans’ end zone than the Indianapolis 46-yard line.

When the Colts finally got something going early in the first half, they had a chance to show the Titans they were going to be a mouse or a lion, and Caldwell didn’t seem to give a whole lot of consideration to the lion route.

The Colts moved 58 yards in 13 plays and had some semblance of rhythm as they faced third-and 4 from the Tennessee 4-yard line. Delone Carter just had a couple 4-yard runs.

What’s lost by making it two-down territory and showing some confidence that the rookie back could get 4 more in two chances at it? To get to 20-7 there would have felt like real progress.

Instead, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 22-yard field goal.

Which team do you think left the field feeling like it won that series?