INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck can see and hear the reminders of the Indianapolis Colts’ slow starts every day.
If there’s not a question being asked, he can find the gory details on tape. He might even get a lesson about the necessity of digging deficits early in games.
By now, everyone in that locker room understands the message and the mission Sunday at Denver.
“You can’t spot a team 18 points in the NFL. I hate to say spot because I don’t want to take credit from what Detroit did. They obviously forced us into that situation,” Luck said reflecting on last week’s loss. “But you can’t do it.”
The problem is the Colts (0-1) can’t seem to avoid doing it.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Colts have faced 27 double-digit halftime deficits since 2012 and somehow, they’ve made the playoffs three times.
That’s largely because of Luck’s knack to lead his team back to victory. Fourteen times in 56 games, Luck has directed winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime — a number that would have increased to 15 had Indy’s defense made a final stop against Detroit.
Instead, the Colts returned to the team complex Monday, still searching for answers — on offense and defense.
“We probably have to change something up or do something different,” safety Mike Adams said. “I don’t know what we have to do to make us start fast, but we have to figure this out sooner than later.”
Coach Chuck Pagano made some changes at training camp .
He pushed players to get at it early in practice and increased the tempo, hoping the emphasis would give them a jumpstart on Sundays.
So far, the results have not changed.
In four preseason games, the Colts scored only 12 points in the first half, trailed 17-3 at halftime of the two games Luck played in and found themselves in a 9-0 deficit at Buffalo.
The problems continued against the Lions, who scored the first 14 points last weekend and extended the lead to 21-3 before Luck got the offense rolling.
How much of a difference can a fast start make?
Pagano can find the answer in Indy’s past three games against the Broncos (1-0).
After taking a 24-0 lead in the 2014 opener, Denver held on for a 31-24 victory.
In a playoff rematch that season, Indy led 14-10 at the half and went on to win 24-13.
Last November, in Peyton Manning’s final game at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts led 17-7 at halftime and hung on for a 27-24 victory.
“We would love to see the offense put some points up early against Denver, able to move the ball early,” tight end Dwayne Allen said Wednesday.
It won’t be easy against the defending Super Bowl champs , who still have one of the league’s fiercest defenses and most prominent home-field advantages — playing in front a raucous crowd and in the mile-high air that can cause breathing problems for opponents.
Some Indy fans are clamoring for more aggressive play calls to start games. Others think, they should go no-huddle right away.
The Colts aren’t dropping any hints of what, or if, they’ll change tactics this weekend.
All Luck, his teammates and the coaches really want to see is a different result as soon as possible.
“Anything that scores points I am fine with,” Luck said. “(Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) does a great job of getting us in positions to be successful and make some plays.”
Notes: Four opening day starters did not practice Wednesday. Cornerback Patrick Robinson (concussion), safety T.J. Green (knee), outside linebacker Robert Mathis (foot) and right guard Joe Reitz (foot) all sat out. Linebacker Trent Cole (back), cornerback Vontae Davis (ankle) and safety Clayton Geathers also sat out. Geathers was excused to attend the birth of his child. … Defensive linemen Henry Anderson (knee), Zach Kerr (foot) and Kendall Langford (knee) were limited at practice. Cornerbacks Darius Butler (ankle) and Antonio Cromartie (hamstring) and offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison (back) also did limited work.