It may be the first game of the preseason, but a loss is a loss.
The expectations in 2013 for the Indianapolis Colts are as high as they’ve been in several seasons. Regardless of how much or how little weight a person puts on the NFL preseason, there is still an unavoidable twinge of disappointment from a 44-20 loss. When that lopsided loss comes in a home opener, it’s hard not to put more focus on the negative. Losing to the Buffalo Bills (and their two rookie quarterbacks) wasn’t a total washout, but there were obvious skill and scheme issues abound for the Colts on Sunday.
The Colts scored twice in the game’s opening quarter, but would only score one more time on offense. A 44-yard field goal in the 2nd quarter was the only points the Colts could muster, until a long defensive fumble recovery for a touchdown. Andrew Luck (as was expected) saw very little action, throwing only six passes on Sunday. Third-string quarterback Chandler Harnish saw the most time on the field, playing over half the game. The running game suffered from injuries to Ahmad Bradshaw, and only ran the ball 16 times, for barely over 50 yards.
The Indianapolis defense is also suffering from various injuries, and will take some time to sure-up their eventual starting lineup. Although the defense was in flux due to roster shifting and injuries, they also often looked confused. Buffalo’s two rookie quarterbacks spent much of their first NFL game playing the no huddle offense. The hurry up offense kept the Colts on their toes, and gave the defense little time to set their plays. The low point for the defense, was giving up a 10-play 98-yard drive right before halftime, that resulted in Buffalo’s E.J. Manuel throwing his first touchdown pass as a pro.
It’s going to take some time for this team to gel, and the Colts certainly did not show much of their new schemes on Sunday. For a team that already has injuries to nearly 20 players, it’s not worth the effort to get too low or too high with expectations. There’s not a lot to take from the first game of the preseason, but there is definitely a look to look at. Be sure that head coach Chuck Pagano and his staff will be back to work and ready to go, when the team returns to practice on Tuesday.