INDIANAPOLIS — To say there are no words to describe the Indianapolis Colts’ latest trip to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars would be flat wrong.
- This from Frank Reich: Pathetic.
- This from Nyheim Hines: Embarrassing.
- And this from Ryan Kelly, which required six words: We got our ass kicked today.
For the second time in 9 months, the Colts were noncompetitive and outclassed by the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. They still haven’t won in Jacksonville since 2014.
On Jan. 9, a 26-11 loss at Jacksonville cost them a playoff berth and was the catalyst for an offseason of significant change, which thus far has changed nothing.
Sunday, a 24-0 loss to Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars dropped the Colts to 0-1-1 and cast a dark cloud over the franchise. They’ve been shut out three times in 332 games since 2003, each time at the hands of Jacksonville.
Owner Jim Irsay summoned Reich and general manager Chris Ballard to the team complex the night of the Jan. 9 debacle. He needed to vent. He reportedly exited the locker room Sunday without comment.
But you can only imagine the angry thoughts swirling in Irsay’s head.
There wasn’t a playoff spot on the line this time, but everything Reich, Ballard and their support staff did during the offseason was designed to upgrade the roster and avoid the team’s notoriously slow starts.
And now this.
- The Colts are winless in their first two games for a second straight season with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs visiting Lucas Oil Stadium next Sunday.
- Matt Ryan finished with a 34.0 rating, the 3rd-lowest in his 224-game career. He finished with just 195 passing yards – he had 99 after three quarters – with three interceptions while under constant siege behind an ineffective offensive line. Ryan was sacked five times and hit on another six occasions. It only seemed like more, right?
- After piling up 517 yards and 33 first downs in the overtime tie at Houston, the offense sputtered for just 218 and nine. Eleven possessions produced five punts, Ryan’s three interceptions and two drives that stalled at the 13 and 9. Two games in and the Colts are 2-of-7 in the red zone.
- Jonathan Taylor was rendered a non-factor (nine carries, 54 yards), in part by the lopsided nature of the game but more as a result of the Jaguars’ defensive front manhandling the Colts’ o-line. It was his fewest attempts since week 9 of his rookie season.
- A receiving corps without Michael Pittman Jr. (quad) and Alec Pierce (concussion) was totally outmanned. Ashton Dulin set career bests with five catches and 79 yards, but the other wideouts combined for three receptions and 47 yards on 11 targets. With the game still within reach – 6 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Jacksonville up 14-0 – Dezmon Patmon dropped Ryan’s third-and-6 pass. Parris Campbell had zero catches on two targets and picked up a costly offensive pass interference penalty in the red zone in the fourth quarter, negating a 10-yard catch-and-run by Kylen Granson to the 2.
- Gus Bradley’s defense had no answers for Jacksonville when it mattered. Lawrence was 25-of-30 for 235 yards and two touchdowns, and benefited from the lack of a Colts’ pass rush. He wasn’t sacked and hit just twice. Jacksonville was a deceiving 8-of-18 on third- and fourth-down situations. The Jaguars were 6-of-8 on those downs as they were building a 17-0 halftime lead.
- Incredibly, the Colts had seven tackles for loss. And it mattered not at all.
- Safety Julian Blackmon failed to come up with a diving interception in the second quarter, and cornerback Stephon Gilmore couldn’t secure another in the third quarter. Yannick Ngakoue’s return to Jacksonville consisted of two tackles and one QB hit.
- In their last three games – against the Jaguars twice and Houston – the Colts have headed into the fourth quarter trailing 67-6.
“Rough day,” Reich said. “They outplayed us, outcoached us. We’ll learn from it and we’ll get better and we’ll pick ourselves up off the mat.
“Obviously a very poor showing in every way.”
Everyone, he insisted, would be evaluated. Players. Coaches.
The offense’s inability to convert early sabotaged anything resembling rhythm, and kept the Colts from establishing Taylor. The line’s inability to deal with Josh Allen and the rest of Jacksonville’s defensive front forced Ryan to throw off his back foot, on the run or as he was being driven to the ground.
“When you don’t play five-as-one, you can’t win games,” Ryan told reporters in the locker room.
The defense was unable to pick up the inept offense. Lawrence produced two touchdowns and one field goal on Jacksonville’s first four possessions.
“We let our coach down,” said Hines, who finished with four catches and 37 yards on five targets. “We let the state of Indiana down.
“It was honestly just embarrassing.”
Reich wouldn’t – couldn’t – argue the point, but remained as optimistic as possible considering the nature of the blowout loss.
“One of the things I said to the guys in there – and it doesn’t make anybody feel any better – but I’ve been around long enough to know that as pathetic as that was today, where that is and where we need to be, the distance is not that far,” he said. “It’s not that far because we’ve got the guys, the coaches and the players to do it.
“I know that doesn’t play in the outside world, but I’m fine with that. We’ll take our medicine. I’ll take my medicine and we’ll just keep doing what we do.
“We’re two games into it. We’re 0-1-1. It’s a long season. We’ll take our medicine for the pathetic performance today.”
Ryan endured just the third shutout loss of his career.
“I’ve played a lot of games,” he said. “I’ve got my ass kicked before, I know that much.
“It’s all about how you respond. You get up off the floor. It happens to you sometimes, but one (loss) can’t turn into two. You just have to pick yourself back up, have a great week of preparation and make sure we have a better performance next week.”
Ryan noted there was plenty of blame to go around for the latest.
“I’ve got to play better. There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “I think as a group we all have to play better, too.”
Ryan credited the Jaguars, but added, “we have a certain standard for ourselves. Every week we have to show up and we’ve got to be ready to go. In the first two weeks, we haven’t done that.
“It’s a long season and we’ve got to get back to work, but today wasn’t good enough.”
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.