What we saw the Colts do last week was completely normal for teams who have just fired their coach. You get a jolt from a new voice—and perhaps from staring into Jeff Saturday’s handsome baby blues—but that rarely translates to the next week. In Indy’s case however, it did translate, at least for 3½ quarters against the NFC-leading Eagles. However, with the ball in Philly territory and a chance to land the KO blow in a 13-3 game, the Colts offense did what they’ve normally done this year: nothing. Indy backed their way into a missed field goal, then watched helplessly as Philadelphia turned two of their next three possessions into touchdowns in a soul-crushing 17-16 loss.
The result is especially hard to stomach when it felt like the Colts might actually be on the precipice of a season-turning–type victory.
MILLER: The Colts are ********ALWAYS******** on the verge of a “season-turning–type victory,” Derek. Or a season-turning–type loss. Remember the low-budget horror flick Open Water, from like 2002??
MILLER: Okay good, don’t ever see it. I mean that. It’s awful, in all the most psychologically crippling ways. The entire TRUE-ISH story involves this young couple who gets left out in the middle of the Pacific(?) Ocean during some tourist-y scuba dive. They got LEFT there while snorkeling, Derek—and the next 82 horrifying minutes of the film is them just bobbing out in the middle of the fucking ocean, talking casually as sharks circle, waiting to get rescued. Or eaten.
SCHULTZ: Where are you going with this?
MILLER: We’re THEM, Derek! We are forever getting left in the middle of the fucking ocean with this team, psychologically speaking. Are the Colts a playoff-caliber team … or do they need to tear this thing down to the studs. (Answer: yes.) Are they the worst-run franchise in professional sports??? Is someone actively Weekend-at-Bernie’s-ing Jim Irsay? Have they forgotten about us?? What are we doing here?
Most of Open Water has been deleted from my brain due to necessity, but I very much remember this: At some point late in the film, the lady had had enough of the waiting. She calmly unzipped her life vest and sank off to her destiny. The thing keeping her alive was the exact thing torturing her.
I’m thinking about unzipping my team-issued life vest, Derek. I don’t think we’re getting rescued this year.
SCHULTZ: I don’t know about “getting eaten” yesterday (or this year’s Colts being handsome, for that matter), because at the end of the day, the Eagles are good and the Colts, well, aren’t. So, it’s hard to get too up in arms about a performance where Indy controlled the game for three-plus quarters. That said, the Colts do this thing where the offense does the absolute bare minimum (scoring in the teens) and then begs the defense to make it stand. It’s an impossible task, especially for a defense that is very good but isn’t the 1985 Bears or 2000 Ravens. Indy held a rising star QB and one of the NFL’s best offenses to 17 points over 60 minutes yesterday. That should be good enough to win! Holding the Commanders to 17 should be good enough to win. Holding the Patriots to 19 (they ran back a pick-six) should be good enough to win. The Colts lost all three of those games. In fact, they’ve allowed 20 points or fewer in the last five weeks … and won once.
Even in a year where NFL offense is down across the board, you’re going to lose much more often than not when you have a team routinely incapable of scoring out of the teens. This isn’t #NFLExpert shit—it’s common sense.
MILLER: Look at you, fretting so hard over this team and their inadequacies, just bobbing along in the dark, lonely sea. Unzip your life jacket, Derek! Unzip it and be free, because it’s not really a life jacket at all, and it never has been. It’s an anvil, goddamnit, and I am done with it for the time being. It’s only prolonging the agony. My Sundays (and general mental health) are about to get wildly better.
SCHULTZ: Sign me up for the cement block shoes! After losing grip of a game they controlled, the Colts probably need to go 5-1 the rest of the way to sniff the playoffs. A much more likely scenario is a 3-3 finish, placing the Colts at 7-9-1—a middling mark in a lost season, nuking their draft stock and accomplishing nothing. While I was sitting on Nate’s couch watching the Colts win in Vegas last week—surrounded by 4 to 6 kids and several dogs—I had an extremely brief glimmer of hope that perhaps this thing could turn. That’s gone now after yesterday’s replay of the Washington loss and there’s where the frustration creeps back in.
Monday Night Football returns to Indianapolis for Thanksgiving wWeek, with the three-win Steelers visiting the four-win Colts. Sadly, like the annual Lions beatdown on Thursday, this one also seems equally meaningless. Pass the gravy!