In Football, the Best Team Identity is a Flexible One

Much has been said about the Colts frustrating performance against the San Diego Chargers. There were many reasons the Colts lost. Dropped passes, poor decision-making, a failure to get the Chargers offense off of the field, the list could go on. The best way I've been able to describe my opinion of the game is to say that the defense failed to win the football game for the Colts but they're not the ones responsible for the loss. I place more blame on the coaching staff and the offensive execution.

Arguing about which factor was the biggest reason for a loss earlier this week won't get fans or the team anywhere. What might get the team somewhere is learning important lessons when tough losses like the one in San Diego occurs.

I have been following the opinions of traditional and new media regarding this "new" version of the Indianapolis Colts all year. There is no doubt that Indy managed to grab the biggest trade headlines of the year with the move to pick up Trent Richardson. Nothing could have been a bigger statement from General Manager Ryan Grigson, Owner Jim Irsay, and head coach Chuck Pagano that building a monster is precisely what the Colts have in mind.

I happen to love the trade because, proven in the NFL or not, Trent Richardson creates another wrinkle in an already scary offense. I love the trade not because I concern myself with stats (YPC) but because I realize that it causes opposing defenses to stay honest. 

The problem with the Colts offense isn't YPC, current personnel, or a focus on being a power running, "body blow" style. Indy's offense can take on just about any form it wants to take on. It has the weapons, even without Dwayne Allen, to exploit the biggest weakness of any opposing defense.

The problem is that even though the Indianapolis Colts offense has the ability to do just about anything it wants to do, it apparently has no interest in changing its forms to best attack its opponents weaknesses.

No matter what statistical ink is tossed around in support of the idea that running backs or running the ball is no longer important in the modern NFL, that is a silly notion. Want to be able to dominate opponents with a power running game? Awesome. Do it. It will pay off big at certain times in games (often close ones) — ask the Chargers.

Having a balanced offense is a fantastic goal as well. Why not drive the ball down the field through defensive linemen on the ground, use play-action to move big chunks of yards, use the short passing game and screens to keep defensive players toward the line of scrimmage and call strategically timed go routes to punish defenders who want to take the short game away?

The problem isn't an inability for the offense to take a form. The problem is that the Colts coaching staff needs to be smarter about what form the offense takes on based upon their current opponent. The best offense is a chameleon.

Don't "invest in body blows" just because it's a part of your "philosophy." Don't ignore your strengths against a given opponent. Exploit defensive weaknesses by displaying your flexibility.

Monsters don't just go away when their prey is lucky enough to get to their car and speed off. Monsters find a way to appear, sneak up on you, get inside your home, and surprise you just when you think you've figured out how to be safe.

The Colts management and coaching staff is about to get a really close look at a monster. When Denver arrives and Peyton Manning takes the field, beware the chameleon. It's what Peyton Manning does. Find the weakness, exploit it, ruthlessly.

Unless Pep Hamilton and Chuck Pagano find a way to do the same, or allow Andrew Luck to do the same, they will find themselves in another struggle where they can only hope their "philosophy" is an effective one against the Broncos defense.

This week the offense will need to score. The offense will need to play up-tempo and stay aggressive. If they don't, if they're inflexible, the Colts have another week of soul-searching ahead.