Colts aren’t the same without WR Wayne
The Colts aren’t the same team without Reggie Wayne.
In the five games since Wayne tore his right ACL against the
Denver Broncos, Indianapolis is averaging 19.6 points. In the seven
games Wayne played, the Colts averaged 26.7 points.
The offensive line has failed to protect quarterback Andrew
Luck. T.Y. Hilton, the new No. 1 receiver, is adjusting to being
double teamed, and the other receivers haven’t made up the
Indy’s offense hit rock-bottom in a 38-8 loss to St. Louis on
Nov. 10 and a 40-11 loss at Arizona on Nov. 24.
Though the group hasn’t looked like the one that derailed Denver
earlier this season, Indianapolis has won three of five since
Wayne’s injury, and the Colts (8-4) can wrap up the AFC South title
with a victory Sunday at Cincinnati.
”As of late, we’ve been like the Rocky Balboa of the National
Football League,” Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said.
”We get bloodied up, but we find a way to finish on top.”
It’s questionable whether that approach will work in the
playoffs. The Colts have been particularly bad in the first half.
In the five games without Wayne, Indianapolis has scored 24 points
before halftime. The Colts have scored 75 points after the break in
”We have our moments where we’re hot and we’re able to move the
ball and we’re able to score touchdowns,” Hamilton said. ”We’ve
got to make it a point of emphasis, as we always have, to find a
way to get started a lot faster.”
Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was supposed to fill some of Wayne’s
productivity, has struggled with drops. Despite starting four of
five games since Wayne’s injury, Heyward-Bey has just nine catches
for 96 yards during that stretch.
Heyward-Bey’s troubles are starting to affect Hilton’s
production. In the first two games after Wayne’s injury, Hilton
caught 14 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. In the next
three games, he caught 15 passes for 128 yards and no scores. With
no other viable outside threat, teams are more focused on
”T.Y. is still a very effective receiver for us,” Hamilton
said. ”They’ve started to double-team him more. I’ve got to do a
better job of moving T.Y. around and making sure we find creative
ways to get him in space.”
Luck has tried to compensate for Wayne’s absence at times by
holding the ball too long. He has been sacked 14 times in the past
five games after being sacked 15 times in the first seven.
Before Wayne’s injury, Luck was completing 61 percent of his
passes and had 10 touchdown passes and three interceptions. Since
the injury, he’s completing 55 percent with five touchdowns and
Luck accepts his share of the blame for the way the offense has
”Oh yeah, I make my fair share of mistakes,” Luck said. ”It
might not be as obvious to the common fan. Drops happen. Holdings
happen. Pass interference happens. Not that it’s ever excusable,
but it’s part of human error, part of playing any sport and doing
anything I think.”
The running game has struggled so much that the Colts finally
made Donald Brown the starting running back over Trent Richardson
this past Sunday.
Even with all the criticism, the Colts are coming off a 22-14
win over the Titans that put them in control of the AFC South. The
Colts didn’t score a touchdown against the Titans until Brown
reached the end zone with 1:56 remaining, yet they were in position
”Again, we’re never going to apologize for winning no matter
how you get it done,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. ”Ugly,
whatever you want to call it, a win is a win. It was critical. We
all know the magnitude of that ball game. It was a game we had to
get the win and get it done.”
Brown’s late touchdown run against Tennessee capped an 11-play,
92-yard drive and left the Titans in desperation mode. It was a
preview of what the Colts hope to accomplish for the rest of the
”When you look at it, by the time you get to the fourth quarter
of games, defenses are worn down a bit,” Hamilton said. ”That’s
what we’re built for. We’re built for the fourth quarter of the
football season where defenses are tired and worn and playing with
guys that are a bit hobbled and it’s not as easy to take on double
team blocks. That’s our formula.”
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