Struggling Colts remain confident they can turn around

·4 min read

Sep. 21—INDIANAPOLIS — The talent on the roster has been grossly disconnected from the results on the field through the first two weeks for the Indianapolis Colts.

And nobody seems to have a concrete answer as to why.

Perhaps it doesn't matter. Professional football is always about the next practice, the next game, the next snap.

There are few things players want to talk about less than the past — more so the case after an 0-1-1 start and a shutout loss in your personal house of horrors.

So maybe the Colts are correct to look to the opportunities still ahead rather than continue to dissect the chances already squandered.

"I don't think it's major," veteran quarterback Matt Ryan said of the process needed to improve the team's performance. "It's not major changes. It's heightened focus on the details. I talk all the time with our guys about being brilliant in the basics and not getting bored with them because over and over, you've got to fall back on that in critical situations."

Systemic failures have occurred for Indianapolis in all three phases of the game and in every area of the field. But situational football has been particularly punishing.

The Colts enter Week 3 with the fewest points scored in the league (20) in part because they can't stay on the field on third down and they can't finish drives in the red zone. Indianapolis is 8-for-25 (32%) on third-down conversions this season and 2-for-7 (28.6%) scoring touchdowns once they penetrate the opponent's 20-yard line.

It's a microcosm of inefficiency that's emblematic of the team's struggles as a whole. The Colts are more likely to turn the ball over (20.8% of their offensive drives, the fifth-highest total in the NFL) than they are to put points on the scoreboard (16.7% of their drives, last in the 32-team league).

Yet they continue to believe they're just one snap from turning it all around.

That's not ignorance of the harsh reality surrounding them. It's an essential tool for survival in the NFL.

Players and coaches don't have the luxury of looking at the big picture — even when it's much prettier than the current climate.

Their jobs are measured by what they put on tape, and correcting the issues they find demands their total focus.

So while social media burns with righteous fan fury, the players have to do their best to block out the noise.

"I mean, you can sit there and read social media until your head explodes, or you can just — nobody ever really knows what's going on unless you're in that room, right?" center Ryan Kelly said. "So it's kind of the price of playing offensive line. When things are going great, they're going great. When they're going bad, they're not going great.

"So we have to find a way to get better, and certainly reading stuff (online) that we're a dead team and all that kind of stuff is not gonna help us. So getting out there every single day, (playing) five as one, getting better — it's a long season."

Indianapolis has shown the ability to turn bad seasons around repeatedly under head coach Frank Reich.

Bad starts in 2018 and 2020 were erased as the team made runs to the postseason, and that fact will be pointed out repeatedly in the weeks to come.

But only 11 of the 53 players on the roster were in Indianapolis for both of those seasons.

This is a new team with a lot of new faces, and it needs to create its own identity.

What it has put on the field so far, however, is unacceptable.

The response moving forward will determine the team's fate.

"You gotta flush it," Ryan said of the 24-0 loss last week against Jacksonville. "All the good teams do that sometime throughout the year. It's how you respond. The measure of who we're going to be as a team is not last week. Who we are going to become as a team is how we respond to situations like last week. I have confidence we will (respond accordingly)."