INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Colts) - When Indianapolis started the Oakland opener by scoring touchdowns on its first two drives, it was the third time since the start of 2012 the Colts had pulled that feat.
The Colts followed the next week against Miami with 10 points and a missed field goal while snapping 30 offensive plays, gaining 195 yards and producing eight first downs on its opening three possessions.
Since then, piecing together a cohesive early attack has been tougher to do.
In a 27-7 win at San Francisco, the Colts moved 80 yards on the opening possession for seven points, then had 11 plays for 27 yards and one first down while punting three times.
Two weeks ago at Jacksonville, Indianapolis punted twice and had an interception to open the game. A 37-3 victory with scores on four-of-five drives and 437 overall net yards followed.
Last week at home against Seattle, Indianapolis started with three three-and-outs that gained nine yards before finding stride with a four-play, 84-yard drive that ended with a masterpiece – a 73-yard Andrew Luck strike toT.Y. Hilton.
Time to address the matter?
“I think it’s a very valid point. It’s something that needs to be addressed,” said Coby Fleener. “If I knew how to do it, I would have already done something or said something to the coach. We’re going to emphasize it in practice. Hopefully, that will carry over to the game.”
What is reassuring is the method by which things will be handled. Chuck Pagano and his staff know a steady course sticking to the process is better than any high-low tactic.
“I don’t know if there’s a common thread,” said Luck. “A lot of times, it’s mistakes by us on offense. You have to give credit to the defense. They put us in certain situations. We’ll work to fix it and move forward.”
Pagano noted Seattle was intent on stacking the box in trying to slow down a running game that was paying huge dividends in previous games. The Seahawks did so by limiting Indianapolis to eight yards on four rushes in the quarter.
Other than Luck’s connection to Hilton, the Colts were one-of-six for three yards passing, hitting the one pass on their third possession. In the last two games, Luck was 18-of-39 passing in the first halves for 234 yards with one touchdown and interception. In the second halves, he was 19-for-25 for 252 yards and three touchdowns.
Pagano said work this week will focus on finding a quicker offensive flow.
“I don’t think we got our first first down until the fourth series,” said Pagano. “It’d be nice to get him (Luck) in a rhythm. Whether it’s miscommunication here or there, or an incomplete pass first play of the game guys got to be on the same page.
“There’s a lot of things that we can do to try to get that corrected. We’ll work on that Wednesday.”
Fortunately for the Colts, improvements trend much closer to tweaking than massive overhaul. Indianapolis ranks 13th in NFL total offense (362.4), fourth in rushing (142.0), fifth in rushing average (4.7), second in third-down conversions (50.0 percent) and sixth in scoring (27.8).
On Sunday, Luck led the team to its ninth fourth-quarter win in the last 21 outings and at 4-1, Indianapolis is alone in first place in the AFC South and joins New England behind only Denver and Kansas City at 5-0.
“We know we need to start fast if we’re going to have a chance in games,” said Luck. “We can’t survive our mistakes forever. If you can start the game with a touchdown on the first drive or get points on the first drive as an offense that really helps.
“As much as starting fast is important, finishing fast is as well. We’ll put a focus on starting fast this week. We’ll come out in practice and get it from the beginning.”
A Chicago man who pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder in the New Year's Day beating death in northwestern Indiana of his former wife shortly after their divorce has been sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Crews from a northeastern Indiana fire department had to rush to put out a blaze at the home of their assistant chief.
A judge has sentenced a northern Indiana teenager to 65 years in prison for the fatal drive-by shooting of another teen.