Vanishing offense has Colts scratching heads
Peyton Manning spent 13 years fine-tuning the NFL's most feared offense.
Without him, the Colts look unrecognizable.
Over the past two weeks, winless Indy has produced only 398 yards in total offense, scored no touchdowns and run only one play inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
''It is shocking,'' running back Joseph Addai said Monday. ''There's a whole bunch of different things that you can point to and when you're winning games, you can overlook so many of those things.''
But when you're 0-10 and this inept, every missed block and every wrong decision becomes magnified.
Indy has been outscored 78-17 in the first half of its last four games and 137-27 overall. Only St. Louis and Jacksonville have scored fewer points than Indy's 131, and both of them have played nine games. The Colts' offense is now ranked No. 31 in yardage, a far cry from years finishing in the top five.
While nobody expected the Colts to be the same without their leader, few expected things to turn this bad this fast.
''I think everybody's just on different pages and throughout the whole team,'' Addai said. ''I think when you have something bad going on, it's just everybody's not connected. Don't get me wrong, we would love to have Peyton, and I think everybody knows that. But that's not the reason why we're losing. That's far from the reason.''
There are plenty of explanations.
A hamstring injury has limited Addai, Indy's top runner, to two carries since Oct. 9. Rookie running back Delone Carter has fumbled each of the last three weeks.
Dallas Clark is out with an injury to his left shin but wasn't himself even before getting hurt. Clark has 28 receptions just two years after becoming the second tight end in NFL history with 100 catches in a season.
Perennial Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne is having his least productive year since 2002. He hasn't scored since Week 1, the longest drought since his first career score.
Pierre Garcon caught four TD passes in Curtis Painter's first two starts and has none since.
The young offensive line, which was already being rebuilt, has yielded 15 sacks in 10 games -- one fewer than it did in 16 games last season, and in Sunday's 17-3 loss to Jacksonville, Indy was called for four false starts.
Then there is the unsettled quarterback spot.
From the time Manning entered the league in 1998 until this year's opener, he never missed a meaningful start. Some contend the Colts are now paying a stiff price for never making a concerted effort to bring in a solid backup even though Colts officials have said veteran quarterbacks avoided Indy because they didn't want to sit behind Manning.
So when Manning needed neck surgery in May and again in early September, the Colts scrambled.
They signed 17-year vet Kerry Collins to a $4 million contract. In Week 3, he sustained a concussion and wound up on injured reserve.
Painter, Manning's backup the last two seasons, looked good after replacing Collins, but has regressed. Over the last four games, he's thrown six interceptions, no touchdowns and produced quarterback ratings of 38.1, 50.6, 41.9 and 40.3. Dan Orlovsky finished the last two games for the struggling Painter and fans are now calling for another quarterback change when the Colts return from their bye week Nov. 27.
Don't count on it.
''When you get a chance to look at that film and you see that, obviously, on the first interception that he (Painter) threw there was a guy sitting in his lap,'' coach Jim Caldwell said. ''The first five times we dropped back there was pressure on him. The time that he threw the second one he was hit from the side as well. So there are a number of different things that occur during the course of the game that you don't see until you have an opportunity to look at it. We're in that evaluation process right now.''
The eventual answer may be a complete overhaul. Indy now holds a two-game lead in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes, and team owner Jim Irsay sounds as frustrated as the fans.
''This year's tearing me up,hate to disappoint r loyal fans,who dedicate so much passion 4the Blue/ a heartfelt THANK U 4 ur encouraging words,'' Irsay wrote on Twitter.
But bringing in Luck won't help this offense, which is looking for a way out of this rut.
''I think everybody's a little disappointed with the season. I think, looking at myself, I'm just disappointed in the last couple of games and kind of how I've performed,'' Painter said. ''I know that I need to continue to improve and get better. I think we're all a little disappointed, but we'll keep fighting for sure.''