NFL: Colts on the up? Not so much

The Indianapolis Colts hugely topsy turvy encounter with the Chicago Bears was so tight, there was little to really separate the two right up until Adam Vinatieri landed a 46 yard field goal with 2.38 remaining on the clock. Last weeks loss to the previously 0-3 Jacksonville Jaguars exposed some brutal holes in the Colts play, and all were eager to set it right. 

They may have chalked up a win to go 2-3, but any Colts fans who believe their team are set for a meteoric comeback towards the Super Bowl may need to think again. 

The good points….

The Hilton/Luck combination

Andrew Luck is beginning to rediscover the form that convinced Jim Irsay to offer him a 6 year, $140 million deal in back in June. He was ambitious, accurate, he protected the ball well, and he found the gaps to exploit with increasing regularity. On 10 of the 28 occasions Luck threw a pass, T.Y Hilton was successfully on the receiving end of it. Hilton’s speed and spacial awareness proved invaluable, with no area of consistency for the Bears defence to anticipate his movement. Such a tactic was particuarly evident in Hilton dropping short, and running back towards Luck to receive the ball. Then, of course, came the touchdown that appeared almost inevitable, a beautiful 35 yard launch down the middle split two of the Bears defenders chasing headwinds. Hilton caught it at a vital time too, with the Colts down 23-19. 

Adam Vinatieri

Find a spot on the pitch that this guy can’t kick successfully from, and you are guaranteed $1 million. He saved the best till last, a 46 yard field goal to put the Colts out of sight in a breathtaking game. On a personal note, he has now landed 38 successful kicks in a row. Oh, and he’s 44 at the end of this year. Age is definitely just a number. 

Now the bad points… 

The defence

The final nail in the coffin at Wembley was allowing Allen Hurns to run almost unchecked from 42 yards to all but seal it for the Jags. All it took was a change in direction from Hurns and it wiped out Mike Adams, Clayon Geathers, Patrick Robinson, and Antonio Morrison in an instant. The grouping of these four allowed Hurns space to run, and his speed, and the blocking by his teammates who got there in time ultimately sealed the Colts fate in that play. 

This week, they again allowed the Bears runners too much space for manoeuvre. From Pat McAfee’s first kick, Deonte Thompson sliced straight through the middle of the onrushing Colts chasers and made 30 yards before being brought down. Bears running back Jordan Howard, the rookie out of Indiana – ironically – caused a lot of problems for the defence, making 118 yards from 16 rushes, and even running in a 21 yard touchdown in the third quarter. 

A huge stalling point for the Colts defence is their eagerness to not allow the receivers an inch. In examples of Hurns last week and Howard this week, the Colts were guilty of rushing to them as they received the ball, allowing a quick spin away from the defence, and room to run. Both Hurns and Howard made touchdowns from these subsequent spins, where the Colts have to address their discipline between the pass and the receive if they are to stop conceding easy touchdowns. 

Even more worryingly perhaps, is the amount of times Andrew Luck was sacked while making his play. He had to protect the ball far more often than should be considered necessary, and was brought down 5 times before he could make a play. The Colts are all to reliant on his brilliance to make up for what the defence costs them. They may have won. But Pagano needs to seriously reexamine his drawing board before the Week 6 clash with the Texans. 


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