As the Colts add to their growing pile of losses, the panic and frustration continues to grow among Colts fans. I get that. I do. Even though the current predicament should not come as a surprise to anybody who has paid attention to the Colts over the last decade, any time your team is in a rut such as this, it's frustrating.
But some of the things I continue to read week-in and week-out are just maddening. At this point, the talking points on the 2011 Colts are getting to be very similar week-to-week, so today I just want to address some misconceptions.
Myth #1: The Colts are purposefully tanking to get Andrew Luck. I actually saw this proposed by an opposing team's fan sometime in the last few days. They pointed to Garcon's fumble and said that it was obviously an intentional lateral attempt in a cheap ploy to lose the game (Even though it's a pretty clear consensus that it was not a lateral at all). The Colts want to win games. The players, the coaches, the management, and the owners all want to win games. Now, I'm sure they would love to have the first overall draft pick as well.
As a fan, I absolutely want the number one pick. I hope the Colts have to make the choice of whether to draft Andrew Luck or trade the pick for a king's ransom. Either choice would pay huge dividends for the franchise's future. However, I cannot watch a game on Sunday and root for the Colts to lose. I can't do it. And if you think that professional athletes, coaches, and managers can do it, especially in the winning culture the Colts have created over the last thirteen years, you're insane.
Myth #2: The Colts would still be a bad team with Peyton Manning. The Colts would be at least 5-1 with Peyton Manning. Any other thinking is simply incorrect. The team has been either ahead, tied, or down by 1-2 points during the fourth quarter of every single game so far this season (much like 2010, I'm convinced that Week One just didn't happen). That's with Curtis Painter and a broken down Kerry Collins at quarterback. To put it simply, Peyton Manning wins those games.
Myth #3: Jacob Lacey should be benched. Should Lacey be a starting cornerback? Not in this defensive scheme. Of course, I don't think most CB's have a shot in Coyer's scheme, but whatever. No, Lacey should not be a starting cornerback. But on this team, with Terrence Johnson, Chris Rucker, and an inactive Kevin Thomas behind him, the Colts don't have better options. Yes Lacey gets picked on, and will be frustrating, but he's better than the alternative.
Myth #4: Donald Brown and Jerry Hughes should have been cut during final cutdowns. Brown's success during the last few weeks should dispel the silly notion that keeping Chad Spann over him would have been ideal. Brown has actually played better than Delone Carter, although the coaches continue to limit his snaps when he's playing well. This sort of situation is exactly why I was adamant before the season started that the Colts needed to keep him around. With Addai out, the Colts needed a strong 1-2, and Brown provides that.
As for Hughes, I stick with what I've been saying all year: Hughes can be useful when used in a Joker type of role, so why aren't the Colts using him? The package was effective in getting pressure on the quarterback last week, and in a game that was devoid of any pressure from the Colts, mixing it up with some looks from Hughes couldn't have hurt. If the Colts aren't going to use Hughes, then yes, he should have been cut. But if they try to use him as they did last week, then they made the absolutely right choice.
Myth #5: The 0-6 record is proof that the management in Indianapolis is not doing their job well. The 2011 season has been a perfect storm for the Colts, via injuries, bobbled field goal holds, fumbles at key junctures, etc. The Colts came into the offseason expecting to have their All-Pro quarterback at the helm, and went from there accordingly. The offensive line is miles better than in 2010, in fact, it's been a strength of this team so far. The run game is better, the weapons are healthier than in 2010 as well.
The defense has better linemen play and better play from the defensive line. The secondary has been very bad at times, but has been hurt by injuries, a terrible coaching scheme, and inexperience (4 of the 7 primary defensive backs are rookies/first years). The 2011 roster is far better than the 2010 one, and the fact that the management is getting so much criticism shows that most fans lose all sense of context when the losses come.
Yes, the losses should be surprising, but not because the Colts are 0-6. Instead, Colts fans should be surprised that the Colts have been as competitive as they have, even with the plethora of injuries that have piled up. No judgments can truly be made about the team and the managements building it until Peyton Manning returns. Even then, if the injury picture gets any worse, it's going to be an awfully tough job to discern from the wreckage.
Until Manning does return though, I'd encourage you to stop judging the team based on their wins/losses (only time I'd ever advocate for this). The Colts are going to lose. Accept that for what it is and move on.
You can assess how the team plays the game though, assess how the coaches manage the game, and root for a win. With the way they've competed thus far, a win is bound to happen at some point, albeit later than we all would have liked.