Credit where credit is due - This video was created/posted on the Barstool Indy (@barstoolindy) Twitter account which is run by Twitter user White Boy Rick (@W_B_Rick). Rick is one of my many friends on Twitter who is significantly more talented than me, but didn't strike gold with a Yak Jeopardy and a group of Barstool Idol competitors who had never heard of Barstool before in their lives. I thought the video was deserving of a blog, as it sums up the Colts season so so perfectly.
People forget that MULTIPLE analysts had the Colts as a dark horse Super Bowl team. It was by no means a ridiculous take for someone to say that the Colts had a legitimate shot at making a deep playoff run. We were told Matt Ryan still had some juice left in the tank, and it was the Atlanta Falcons who were holding him back. The Colts offensive line was supposed to be good. They had a formidable defense. We had (arguably) the best running back in the NFL. If you would have told me before the season that the Colts would only win half their games, I would have laughed at you.
But holy shit did things go downhill fast.
There were so many ridiculous Colts moments this year that I had completely forgotten about. Starting with the end of the 2021-2022 season where Jim Irsay took a video of himself standing (or leaning because he can barely walk at age 63) outside of his private jet apologizing for the Colts pathetic Week 18 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. A game where the Colts were 15-point favorites. A game they needed to win to make the playoffs. A game where Carson Wentz lost all motor skills and forgot what direction the offense was supposed to move the football. Jim Irsay was not satisfied, and he let the Colts faithful know right then and there that the Colts were going, "ALL CHIPS IN" next season.
The Colts started out a respectable 3-2-1. But in hindsight we should have known that the Colts season was over after their Week 1 tie to the Houston Texans. You can't tie a team that is actively trying to lose and expect to turn things around. I don't have a great explanation for why I think this, but I genuinely feel like tying that game was worse than losing. If the Colts had lost to the Texans, we would have chalked it up as a bad week and moved on to the next. Nobody knows how to feel after a tie. The Colts tie just lingered awkwardly in the form of a 1 in the "tie column" on their record, serving as a constant reminder of that time the Colts were the same as the Houston Texans. Somehow that's even worse than getting blown out.
I would say that the Colts played good quality football for one game this year. That game was Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. How on earth did the Colts beat Patrick Mahomes? I barely even remember how that happened. I feel like it took place in a different dimension. Aside from that, the quality of football was shit across the board. The Colts never really got their running game going. Jonathan Taylor battled injuries. Matt Ryan (who I thought was supposed to be a game manager) came out of the gates throwing the ball an absurd amount of times per game.
Maybe that was his plan all along, but I just don't think an average of 42 pass attempts over his first 7 games is what Matt Ryan was signed to do.
But it wasn't long until Ryan was replaced by Sam Ehlinger. Which according to a recent article in The Athletic, was 100% Jim Irsay's decision. I did my part as a Colts fan and convinced myself that Ehlinger could be the guy. I imagined a world where Sam Ehlinger overcome all odds and became a top 10 quarterback in the NFL. But that was never really going to happen.
The rest of the story has been talked about at nauseum by me and every other person on the internet. The Colts fired Frank Reich, and hired Jeff Saturday. It was a hire I was actually encouraged with. At least it made the Colts interesting. Plus, it pissed off a bunch of people who take football too seriously. I've long been annoyed by those types of people. Football is really bunch of grown men playing a game. It's not that serious. It's fucking recreation. It's not rocket science. Jim Irsay said it himself at what many people have dubbed the greatest press conference in the history of sport.
For a minute there I thought I might be right. Jeff Saturday won his first game, and I got off as many "Jeff Saturday is undefeated! Best coach in the NFL!" jokes as I could fit into one week. My hopes were high. It wasn't even so much about the Colts. I just wanted to see people like Bill Cowher try to justify how a man with zero NFL head coaching experience could walk in off the street and dominate the league. I wanted every other coach in the NFL to take a long hard look in the mirror and come to the realization that they aren't that important. I wanted them to think that there are thousands of people out there who are capable of doing their job just as well as they do (if not better). I wanted the world to come to the conclusion that football is actually pretty easy to coach. You can't tell me you wouldn't want to see a man like this eat crow.
But that's not how it worked out. It turns out coaching experience matters in the NFL. Turns out winning football games takes more than a loud man screaming motivational quotes at his players. Turns out a good/experienced coach will typically beat a bad/inexperienced coach. Even if the bad/inexperienced coach has a 33-point lead going into the second half.
With the exception of the Colts win over the Raiders in Jeff Saturday's first game, the most fun I had watching the Colts all season was when I was cheering for them to lose against the Houston Texans in Week 18. That was so goddamn fun. Losing to the Texans with the #1 pick on the line is maybe the most impressive thing the Colts did all year.
I've heard a lot of people imply that Colts fans should be embarrassed by their performance this season, and should ashamed of Jim Irsay. But I don't agree with that. For one, I am not a member of the Indianapolis Colts organization, so why the fuck would I be embarrassed? Secondly, this was only their 7th losing season since I was born in 1992. That places them firmly in the top quartile of the upper quartile of teams in the NFL. Not enough people give us credit for that. Not many owners even know that stat exists. Every team has their ups and downs, and this was quite clearly a down year for Indianapolis. But the Colts did their down year the right way. They were a fun team. They made waves across the league. And most importantly, as soon as they identified that they sucked, the went full tank mode and executed it to perfection.
I wouldn't hate it if the Colts tanked again nest year. We're not about to win the Super Bowl, so why not tank twice in a row? You can never have too much good young talent. Bring the circus back for another year. Last I heard, Jeff Saturday was still in the running to become the Colts official head coach. You can't rule that out with Jim Irsay at the helm. Colts GM Chris Ballard has already said he won't be holding Jeff Saturday's 1-7 record against him.
When it comes to the NFL Draft, I don't have too much of an opinion on what the Colts should do. The only thing I DO NOT want is for them to trade up for the #1 pick. I don't think there's a quarterback in the draft that's good enough for that. If their man falls to them at #4 then that's great. If not, I wouldn't mind seeing them trade back for additional picks. It's never a bad idea to get more picks. The Colts are more than just one player away. They might as well acquire as many picks as possible. But who knows what will happen. I'm sure Jim Irsay has something incredibly stupid up his sleeve, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing what he pulls out.