INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts’ offense has stuttered all season. Now their defense has also faltered.
Though three-time All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard was all but 10 quarters out through injury, the Colts’ defense was the team’s strength for most of the year. But additional absences of key playmakers coupled with the ongoing problems up front have finally taken their toll.
“Losing sucks. I’m not a fan of where we are,” interim head coach Jeff Saturday said Monday after losing his sixth straight game. “We didn’t do as well as I had hoped. I knew it would be difficult. But the frustration doesn’t change. These guys are struggling and the results are not good.”
Not even close.
The Colts (4-11-1) have lost their last three to teams who secured playoff spots with those victories. And those last four losses have been embarrassing — allowing 33 points in the fourth quarter at Dallas, watching Minnesota bounce back from a 33-point halftime deficit to complete the biggest comeback in NFL history, an incongruous prime-time loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and now a 38-10 loss to the New York Giants, the including Giants rookie linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux celebrating just yards from Nick Foles as the injured quarterback writhed in pain.
The rib injury will keep Foles out of next weekend’s season finale against Houston (2-13-1).
“Tasty of the celebration afterwards,” said Saturday, admitting he would talk to his players about reacting differently if it happened again. “Just rubbish, not a fan of anything. Disappointed from the O-Line perspective and by teammates in general. We protect our own.”
A lot has gone wrong for the Colts in the past few weeks.
Indy has 49 points in his last 13 quarters, giving away two defensive points during the same stretch while suffering a third and now fourth quarterback substitution.
Yet the undermanned defense that has played so well this season is equally to blame for the Colts’ late impotence. Opponents have scored 130 points in the same 13 quarters, albeit in part due to turnovers and the defense spending too much time on the field.
One game remains before an offseason that promises to be full of changes – Saturday’s move and team owner Jim Irsay hope it can change the fortunes of this franchise.
“It frustrates me to death, the record is what it is,” said Saturday. “We’ve played some close games but your record is what it is, isn’t it?”
Zack Moss. Acquired at close, the young running back has proven to be a consistent producer. Since replacing 2021 NFL rushing champion Jonathan Taylor (ankle), Moss has logged 51 carries for 220 yards and looks set to be a strong addition to Taylor next fall.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
passport protection. This seasonal problem has been uncovered again in New York, although the numbers have not been nearly as bad as in previous weeks. Indy gave up two sacks, but Foles was under so much pressure that Indy only hit 14 first downs and Foles lost for the rest of the season.
DB Dallis flowers. The 25-year-old undrafted rookie made his first impression as a kick returner. He shows that he can also play in defence. After catching a fumble in Minnesota, Flowers had a career-high four tackles on Sunday.
slides The Colts thought he could jumpstart the offensive line. Instead, six days after his career-high seven sacks, Foles found himself flat on his back late in the first half and eventually carted off to the dressing room. It could be the final chapter in an 11-year career that saw him named Super Bowl MVP after helping Philadelphia win its first Lombardi Trophy after the 2017 season.
2 – Indy’s offense has only had two TDs since entering the fourth quarter in Dallas on December 4th. The opposing defense reached this total in the same amount of time. The Cowboys scored on a fumble return and the Giants on an interception return.
Not much is left for the Colts. Their season fell apart with nine losses in 10 games, multiple quarterback changes, a coaching change, and a play-caller change. Indy has positioned himself for a top-five draft pick and may allow the Colts to find a franchise quarterback. Saturday wants nothing more than to end this slip-up so he can put more effort into keeping the coaching job next season.