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Colts fall short of goal, see better days ahead


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Now is the time for every Indianapolis Colts fan to put on his or her general manager’s hat and offer up two cents on what ails Indiana’s favorite football team.

Indianapolis didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. Again.

Lost in embarrassing fashion at New England in front of those nasty, poncho-wearing and probably-don’t-floss Patriots fans. Again.

Saved one of their worst performances of the entire season for the big stage. Again.

Woe is us. Please, doctor, something for the pain.

Let’s reverse field, shall we? Instead of immediately focusing on the future, let’s devote a few paragraphs to be reminded of the very recent — and very real — past.

It’s the late-afternoon hours of Dec. 11, 2011, and the Colts have just lost, 24-10, at Baltimore, their record now a catastrophic 0-13.

Journeyman Dan Orlovsky is the quarterback. He leads Indy to 53 yards of total offense over the first three periods and 154 for the game, his numbers padded down the stretch against the Ravens’ second- and third-teamers.

We aren’t merely bad. We’re a ticking Letterman monologue bit ready to go off at any time.

Indianapolis, because of the immense stock put in one player, had been knocked from its

annual playoff pedestal with the force of a Ronnie Lott hit now that that player was injured.

Almost 25 months ago to the day, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns were laughing at us instead of the other way around.

Now look. The Colts are a young, feisty, irritatingly erratic entity all but guaranteed yearly postseason visits if for no other reason due to the soft division in which they compete.

Quarterback Andrew Luck, 24, already has 35 starts, including three of the playoff variety. Receiver T.Y. Hilton, 24, is blooming into one of the NFL’s more electric young talents. Rangy second-year tight end Coby Fleener, 25, continues to progress in

his development.

Having said that, Luck is going to be moving about the pocket in a motorized cart if Indianapolis doesn’t do something about the interior of its offensive line.

Having a first-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft would have been a godsend, but Ryan Grigson’s September trade with the Browns for running back Trent Richardson snuffed that out.

Before you pile on, please recognize Luck would be in a world of hurt without Richardson. He might not have been effective as a ball carrier this season, but he was one of his quarterback’s most trusted pass blockers against Kansas City and New England.

As for Grigson, his sophomore season as the Colts’ GM won’t get him confused with Bill Polian anytime soon. Maybe not even Bill Tobin.

The pressure is on. Owner Jim Irsay has made it very clear he wants another Super Bowl ring or two before he rides off into the sunset on the back of Stephen Stills’ Harley, moves into the Grateful Dead’s old tour bus or something equally as random.

Call me an optimist, but I think Grigson redeems himself in 2014 with outstanding draft picks, waiver wire acquisitions and maybe a free agent signing or three.

Indy’s burning needs are at linebacker (Pat Angerer becomes a free agent in March) and along the offensive line. A defensive lineman capable of helping Robert Mathis pressure the opposing QB and another receiver to complement Hilton and Reggie Wayne — did someone say the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks? — would also be nice additions.

The skies over Indianapolis are not falling. In time Colts’ fans can push aside their disdain for the rival Patriots and take notice that back-to-back 11-5 seasons is nothing to cry over.

Probably not today and maybe not tomorrow, but they will.

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. Send comments to mbeas@dailyjournal.net.

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