By Tom James
For the Kokomo TribuneE
In the wake of the Indianapolis Colts’ home-field win over Green Bay last week, interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians talked about getting over the emotions of the game with a 24-hour rule.
But after the Colts’ 34-9 road loss to the New York Jets, Arians wants Indianapolis’ players to put their most recent performance behind them a lot quicker, although the 24-hour rule is still in effect.
Forget it and move on. Well, correct the mistakes — both physical and mental — and then forget it and move on.
“It’s just like the win after Green Bay. Now the loss after New York. You’ve got the 24-hour rule. But you’ve got another team coming up [Cleveland on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium], so you can’t dwell on it. You fix it, you look at the [game] tape, identify what happened right and wrong and go on to the next day. We’ve done that,” Arians said.
“I think everybody sees what we’re capable of being. If we don’t play the way we’re capable of playing, we’ll get beat like [the Colts did against the Jets]. Just simple things.”
Indianapolis’ defense will go into the Cleveland game missing several key members. Outside linebacker Robert Mathis (knee), defensive end Cory Redding (knee) and defensive tackle Fili Moala (knee) are not expected to play against the Browns.
Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (concussion symptoms) may also be sidelined. The good news is that inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot) and cornerback Vontae Davis (ankle) might be able to return for the Cleveland game.
“Injuries cannot be used as an excuse. The Jets were injured also,” Arians said when discussing the struggles with the Indianapolis run defense. The Colts allowed 252 rushing yards to New York, including 161 yards and three touchdowns to running back Shonn Greene.
“We have to fit properly and tackle. It’s just as simple as that. We did not fit into the right gaps. We were out of gaps too often and we missed way too many tackles. Especially in the [defensive] backfield.”
Improved run blocking is also a goal. Indianapolis had just 41 yards in 17 carries against the Jets. Rookie running back Vick Ballard made his first start and had 25 yards on eight carries. Second-year running back Delone Carter saw his first extended work of the season and added 13 yards in four carries.
Offensive guard Joe Reitz, who has not played in a game this season, might be able to practice on Wednesday. His status for the Cleveland game, though, has not been determined.
The Colts’ offense, in general, proved to be inconsistent against New York. Indianapolis had 298 yards in total offense in the game and were 3-of-11 in third-down opportunities.
“We got ourselves in very manageable situations [against the Jets] and didn’t make the plays, especially early in the ball game. Especially some third-and-ones when we had some guys open and it’s not jittery-ness but the, ‘I want to make this play,’ too quick, too soon. Just let it happen,” Arians said.
“We blocked their front very well. I think we had one negative runner on the draw, but at times we had great surge. I thought the score dictated some things that we couldn’t do that we wanted to do and thought we could going into the game. I knew we would move the ball well in no huddle and when we went down, we got the field goal. We still need to run the ball better in the red zone. The third-and-ones, you can say we should have run it, but we had guys open and you’ve got to hit them.”
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck probably had his worst outing since entering the National Football League, completing 22-of-44 passes for 280 yards while being sacked four times and intercepted twice. He very nearly threw a third interception but the play was negated by a pass interference penalty.
Luck, who also fumbled once as he was being sacked, was frequently high with his passes. He misfired early in the game on passes attempts to rookie tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.
“Too amped up. Just set your feet and throw it, you don’t have to throw those balls on the run. And take a little bit off of it because they’re there. The first one, just keep moving, draw the defense in to you a little bit more and let Dwayne clear it instead of just trying to lob it over his head,” Arians said.
“The second one [to Fleener], same thing, you’ve got time, you don’t have to play at such a fast pace. Slow down and let the play happen.”
Arians expects Luck to keep working on improving as a quarterback.
“He’s his worst critic. He even knows coming off the field before I say something to him. That’s the beauty of it. He knows when he makes a mistake, he knows why he made it and he usually doesn’t make it twice,” Arians said.
“He’s got a great resiliency about it. ... [He’s] asking me what I’m thinking the next time around. So he’s always in tune and ready to get to the next play. Great look in his eye on the sidelines.”