Monday, December 14, 2015

Sinking fast

Here's how low it goes these days for the Indianapolis Colts, plodding toward Christmas while they spread seasonal cheer for everyone but themselves:

They couldn't wait to get out of Jacksonville.

Who says that in December, especially when you're from the Midwest?

Who says it, in fact, almost anytime,  when it's not just Jacksonville but the Jaguars you're talking about? The Jaguars are to the NFL what penicillin is to pneumonia. Feeling low? Got chills and fever and whatever else comes from getting ball-peened by the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Here. Take two Jags and call me in the morning.

Except this time, the Colts -- fresh off that 45-10 head wound at the hand of the aforementioned Steelers -- took two Jags and got plunged into mourning. They led 13-3 and were feeling fine, and then, um, they weren't. The Jags -- the Jags! -- promptly outscored them 48-3 the rest of the way. They found the end zone on all five of their possessions in the second half, plus Rashard Greene's 73-yard punt return. They knocked Matt Hasselbeck onto the sideline and forced the Colts to use Charlie Whitehurst, who played like the bargain bin last resort he was: 2-of-8 passing for 8 yards, plus an interception.

And so, Jags 51, Colts 16. And so, the Colts a game below the waterline at 6-7, which would mean the playoffs were beyond reach except that they play in the AFC South, the bargain bin of NFL divisions.

Next week they get the Texans, also 6-7, for all the division marbles. Or a marble. Or whatever lump of coal comes with winning the AFC South.

It's the only ray of light in this unraveling, and it's a damn weak one. This is in no way a playoff team, even if it jacks around and manages to make the playoffs. Andrew Luck is still recovering from that lacerated kidney, and, even when he comes back, who knows how long he'll stay upright behind an offensive line that can't block sunlight. So it's the bargain bin guy and maybe a beat-up Hasselbeck and a defense that just gave up 51 points to a team that had never scored that many points in a regular season game in its history.

Plus a head coach (Chuck Pagano) who more and more looks like the lamest duck this side of AFLAC. Plus a general manager (Ryan Grigson) who handed him a mess of a roster and likely is halfway out the door himself.

It was Grigson who decided not to draft what the Colts needed most -- offensive linemen -- and brought in a bunch of senior citizens who, with the exception of running back Frank Gore, have mostly spent this season in the sunroom watching "Golden Girls" reruns. That got the toughest guy in the room, Luck, beat up not once but twice. And the odds are pretty short that he'll get beat up again when he comes back -- a frightening prospect considering he's coming back from a lacerated kidney.

No word yet if he'll even be cleared to practice this week, let alone play against the Texans. But even if he were, it would be a lunatic decision to risk him against the Texans pass rush. And if, as seems likely right now, they lose to the Texans without him next week?

Might as well shut him down for the duration. Why wouldn't you, with the season lost?

After all, it already looks like everyone else has shut it down.



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