So here we are, an eighth of the 2015 NFL season in the books, and as of now the Jacksonville Jaguars are in first place in the AFC South. The Colts meanwhile, following their embarrassing 20-7 home loss Monday night to the Jets, are 0-2 and bringing up the division's rear.
There are myriad reasons why the team every expert selected to win the division, and many had eventually representing the AFC in the Super Bowl, has yet to win a game. The offensive line doesn't look like it could block a high school pass rush right. The defense is thin and depleted, always a bad combination. The play makers aren't making plays.
There's also the small matter of the Colts coughing the ball up eight times in two games.
"My play, turning the ball over, fumbles, interceptions, it's a pretty glaring issue," Andrew Luck said after the game when asked why the Colts are 0-2. "You don't want to take anything away from what the Jets did on defense, but we continually shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers. If we don't clean those up, it's hard to win."
Here, Luck is certainly right. But when it comes to cleaning up the turnovers, he's the one who has the most work to do.
First let's start with these, because there certainly are many.
For one, the Colts' offensive line might be the worst unit in the NFL. It's no coincidence that both the Jets and Bills, teams that have strong defensive lines and could generate pressure without bringing extra men, have blitzed Indianapolis on 47.9 percent of Andrew Luck's drop backs, the third-highest rate in the NFL per ESPN's Stats & Information. Luck has already been "officially" knocked down 17 times this year, and the number's probably higher than that.
Offensive line has been an issue in Indianapolis for years now, and yet in the offseason Colts GM Ryan Grigson instead elected to select wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the first round, a decision Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was not on board with.
But fine, the thinking went. Andrew Luck is one of the best, and smartest quarterbacks in the league. He's one of those quarterbacks who can diagnose a play at the line and mask an offensive line's weaknesses. And anyway, Grigson added playmaking weapons like Frank Gore and Andre Johnson. Maybe the Colts offensive line wouldn't be great, but at the end of the day it wouldn't matter, or at least that's what Grigson seemed to be thinking.
Well, about those new additions.
Here's what Frank Gore did Monday night when given a chance near the goal line, to go along with his 57 yards on 15 carries. He's averaging 3.8 yards per carry through two games.
Andre Johnson has caught just seven balls, for a total of 51 yards, in two games. T.Y. Hilton hurt his knee in Week 1. And the Colts are so depleted in the secondary that they're lining a special teams player up at cornerback and putting a no-name journeyman like Jalil Brown on Brandon Marshall.
The Colts have also faced two elite defenses (the Bills and Jets) and defensive minds (Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles). But even with that being the case, and as bad a job as Ryan Grigson has done (and, let's not overstate this: it takes a certain level of skill to have a franchise QB like Andrew Luck on a four-year, $22 million rookie deal and surround him with junk), the Colts' primary issue this season has been turnovers. That's why they're 0-2 — and the player most responsible for the majority of them is the one person who was not supposed to be a problem this year.
First, let's start with the numbers, and boy, are they bad: Through two games Andrew Luck ...
- ... has a QBR of 28.5, the third-worst number in the league.
- ... has completed just 54.7 percent of his passes, the fifth-worst number in the league.
- ... has thrown just three touchdowns compared to a league-high five interceptions.
- ... is averaging just 5.7 yards per attempt, the-fifth lowest number in the league.
- ... has turned the ball over six times, the most in the league.
Some of that can be blamed on the poor offensive line. But the larger problem here is that since entering the league, Andrew Luck has treated the football like a dirty a pair of socks he'd rather someone else hold.
"Can't turn the damn ball over," Pagano said after the game, according to Indy Sports Central's Mike Chappell, later adding: "[Luck's] got to take care of the football. Make great decisions. It's not that hard. It's not trigonometry."
This interception is a perfect example. No, the protection isn't great, but Luck still makes a careless throw, which winds up being intercepted by Darrelle Revis.
Luck has now turned the ball over 28 times since last season, which is the most in the league. Since entering the NFL in 2012, Luck has been picked off 48 times (only four players have thrown more interceptions) and fumbled 30 times (only two players have coughed the ball up more).
"That's been the case for three years now, has it not?," Pagano said when asked about the Colts' weak offensive line. "[Luck] Should be more than comfortable dealing with [it]."
Pagano might be throwing his quarterback under the bus a bit, but he also has a point.
There's still hope for the Colts
Here's the good news. The Colts started 0-2 last year as well, and then went on to finish 11-5 and win a playoff game. The same might happen this season when they finally start playing teams from the AFC South. But even if they do roll through their games against the Titans, Jaguars and the rest of the league's bottom dwellers, it will all be meaningless if Andrew Luck doesn't start taking better care of the ball.
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