INDIANAPOLIS – Let the roller coaster keep on riding. It has since the opening week, through October and into the chilly days of December.
From a team far from a Super Bowl to one on the verge and then back again, it’s becoming a habit to question this Colts team’s potential the last two years.
Once again fans and player have arrived at this issue on the eve of the NFL Playoffs. Reality slapped the Colts in the face on Sunday when they were dominated from start to finish in a 35-point loss–the eighth worst for the team since arriving in Indianapolis from Baltimore.
“It’s confidence. You want to be confident going into the playoffs,” said head coach Chuck Pagano. “You want to go in feeling good about yourself. Nobody wants to go through a day like we went through yesterday. But you’ve got to bounce back and you’ve got to keep moving forward.
“We’ve got a game to play this Sunday. We better prepare, we better practice and do the right things, try to clean up what we can clean up in a short amount of time and go play well and come out of that game hopefully with a win and try to get your mojo back and get feeling good about yourself.”
Winning will again be the priority of the team, per the policy of Pagano since he arrived in Indianapolis in 2012. The coach expects T.Y. Hilton to play on Sunday but wasn’t as sure about tackle Gosder Cherilus, Dwayne Allen or Jerrell Freeman who are all “day-to-day.”
“Yeah, if a guy’s dinged up, he’s injured and we’re at risk of losing him for an extended period of time, then we’re going to be smart and do the right thing, listen to our docs and listen to our trainers. That would be the only reason we’d hold somebody,” said Pagano.
Frankly the Colts could likely hold out a few against a Titans team that is in a battle for the No. 1 draft pick at 2-13. Tennessee hasn’t won a game since October and lost to the also lowly Jaguars last Thursday night.
While a true evaluation of the team really can’t be made one way or the other before their Wild Card round opener at home in two weeks, one thing the Colts could do is get their offense back to mid-season form. At one point the top offense in the league, the unit has now slipped to third and has scored only 24 points in the last two games.
On top of that the Colts rushed for just a single yard in the loss to the Cowboys on Sunday.
“When you look back earlier in the season like you talked about, and you saw the way the offense was moving the football on the ground, through the air mostly, guys making plays, third down, moving the chains, staying on the field, winning the time of possession, taking care of the football for the most part,” said Pagano. “We have not played well and have not executed well. We need to get it fixed and we need to get it fixed in a hurry.
“Hopefully the health status of our guys, you get all your guys back and the continuity up front with the offensive line, we hopefully settle into something there, and you get rolling.”
The coaster, that is, and they hope it will be on the upward trend as January progresses.