Indianapolis Colts: 2013 Week 12 IND at ARI

Colts need to do some soul searching

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
10:37
PM ET
Andrew LuckChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesAndrew Luck managed just 163 yards passing in Indianapolis' 40-11 loss to Arizona.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- One moment the Indianapolis Colts are one of the feel-good stories of the NFL, the team that’s overcome the adversity of losing five offensive players to season-ending injuries to be on top of the division. The next moment, they’re the team that leaves you scratching your head wondering how in the world are they in first place in the AFC South.

You know what?

That feeling won’t go away anytime soon.

The past four weeks haven’t been an aberration. These are your Indianapolis Colts. So sit back, strap up and prepare to be taken on an emotional roller-coaster ride during the final five weeks of the season.

The Colts (7-4) had their second embarrassing performance in three games, when the Arizona Cardinals put on a clinic against them in their 40-11 loss on Sunday.

“Yeah, it stinks,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow for anybody when you get beat like this. We have to worry about us and get things fixed on our end.”

Several Colts said they're not concerned about how things have gone recently. They should be concerned because things aren't going to drastically turn around for them.

The mood inside the locker room said it all.

Players weren’t sitting around talking to each other at their lockers. It was near silence as they quickly dressed to head to the bus for their flight home. The normally media-friendly Robert Mathis left without talking to reporters. His frustration was evident late in the first half when he threw his hands up in disgust after Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald's 16-yard catch on third down extended the drive for them.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw around the word “stink” in some form six times during his postgame news conference the same way Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer threw the ball around the field on Indianapolis’ defense.

“It stinks,” Luck said. “It’s frustrating, but we realize the onus is on us to get it fixed. It’s on the players to do our job. I have to do my job better if we are going to have a chance to win consistently.”

The Colts are 11 games into the season and they have yet to establish an identity. They have beaten the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos to only turnaround and get manhandled by the Cardinals and St. Louis Rams.

Running game? Nope. The Trent Richardson trade has been a bust.

Passing game? It’s anybody’s guess who will show up at receiver each week for the Colts. Luck had the second-lowest passing game of his career with 163 yards.

The defense? It's more surprising when a pass isn't completed against them these days. Palmer threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns.

The Colts’ slow starts have become laughable. They have been outscored 92-13 in the first half of their past four games. They’ve played only three decent quarters out of their past 16. Defensive lineman Cory Redding lowered his head some, shook it and said finding a way to fix their slow starts is the “million-dollar question.”

“There’s blood in the water right now and until we get it fixed they are going to keep coming at us,” Pagano said. “It’s the same thing week in and week out on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Until you put out the fire, they will keep testing you until you put the fire out.”

Part of the reason behind the lack of an identity is because injuries have decimated the Colts. Not having Reggie Wayne, Donald Thomas, Ahmad Bradshaw, Vick Ballard and Dwayne Allen has put players in roles they’re not capable of handling.

The “Next Man Up” theme Indianapolis has used for so long isn’t working right now.

“There has to be some soul searching, some gut-check calls,” Redding said. “Some look in the mirrors, some accountability, whatever it takes. Everybody. We have to dig deep, find a way to get this win against Tennessee next week.”

Something has to change, and it has to happen soon. The Colts still have a two-game lead over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South. But if they lose to the Titans next weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium, the polo shirt Pagano wears during games will get even tighter. It’s his job to ensure his players are ready to play each week.

“We just haven’t been executing from the get go,” linebacker Pat Angerer said. “We still have our goals ahead of us. We definitely have to start playing better and something has to change.”

Finding an identity would be a start.

Rapid Reaction: Indianapolis Colts

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
7:09
PM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A few thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 40-11 loss to the Arizona Cardinals:

What it means: The Colts were never in it. They were embarrassed for the second time in three games. They entered the game knowing they had to put pressure on Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. That didn’t happen until the game was already determined. Palmer picked apart the Colts defense by going 26-of-37 for 314 yards and two touchdowns. The Colts sacked Palmer three times. Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall bounced around for 54 yards on 13 carries. The Colts didn’t get their lone touchdown until the fourth quarter, when they were already down by 23 points.

No rushing attack: The 137 yards rushing against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 14 turned out to be just a one-game thing for the Colts. They ran the ball only 15 times for 80 yards. Don’t get excited by the 5.3 average. It’s rarely a good thing when your quarterback is one of the leading rushers. Andrew Luck ran for 31 yards, while Trent Richardson and Donald Brown combined for 16 yards on nine carries. Daniel Herron led the Colts with 33 yards.

Another slow start, shocking: The Colts went into the half trailing 27-3 to bring their halftime deficit to 93-12 in the past four games. The Cardinals reached Indianapolis territory on all five of their drives in the first half. They scored on four of them. The only time they failed was when Sergio Brown blocked Jay Feely's 28-yard field goal attempt on Arizona’s second offensive series of the game. The Cardinals got some help in the scoring department from their defense. Linebacker Karlos Dansby intercepted Luck’s pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

Injury loss: The Colts were already without starting cornerback Greg Toler (groin), and then they lost their other starting cornerback, Vontae Davis, with a groin injury in the fourth quarter. The defense hasn’t been the same -- giving up big plays against Houston, St. Louis and Arizona -- since Toler went out of the lineup prior to the Titans game on Nov. 3.

What’s next: The Colts return to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Titans on Dec. 1. The Colts beat the Titans 30-27 on Nov. 14.

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