It is fair to say that this was never going to be a successful season for the Indianapolis Colts. With Andrew Luck bound to miss at least a quarter of the season with an injury, a shoddy offensive line, and a defense in the midst of a massive overhaul, the Colts were picked by many pundits to be at the bottom of the AFC at the beginning of the season. The on-field struggles that have plagued Chuck Pagano’s squad are not very surprising given the team’s outlook since the opening weekend. And yet, a series of events off the field has created an abundance of unnecessary drama, and confused a fan base that is so used to consistency.
The first person of note here is Luck. Many criticized the young quarterback as well as team owner Jim Irsay for delaying Luck’s surgery on a torn labrum until this past offseason despite having had previous shoulder problems in 2015 and 2016. Luck had initially hoped to return to camp by August, but a lack of progress has kept him out for the entirety of the season, with Indy making the decision to place him on injured reserve over two weeks ago.
While Luck’s continued injury concerns are agonizing enough for Colts fans, the situation was made instantly worse by Irsay. The mercurial owner–who had thought Luck would be ready at the beginning of the season– apparently told former Colts head coach Tony Dungy that Luck’s injury was all mental, despite Irsay and the rest of the organization showing woeful neglect for his injury history in totality. Even still, there remain questions around the league about whether Luck’s injury may be more threatening than Colts ownership is letting on, a prospect that should frighten fans as the face of the franchise continues to mend.
It’s not just the beleaguered Luck that has been in the dramatic spotlight, however. Former Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis was released last week, just one day after he voiced frustration regarding how the Colts handled his own injury concerns. The two sides collided with different narratives, as Davis claimed that doctors recommended season-ending surgery on his groin injury, while the Colts have stuck with their story that he was medically cleared earlier in the season, and hasn’t been limited at practice.
Finally, there has been a collection of oddities that has made this season all the more frustrating for the Colts. The usually mild-mannered T.Y. Hilton criticized the offensive line after a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in October, before promptly apologizing the
next day. For his part, Jacoby Brissett has thrown late-game interceptions that have cost the Colts three wins, including another one last week against Steelers. Brissett had his own injury controversy, as the Colts were criticized for their seemingly rushed concussion protocol after Brissett was slow to get up following a hit late in the game. The league’s chief medical officer has since defended the Colts’ handling of the situation.
What began as a question mark of a year has turned into a nightmare, no thanks in part to the relative hush-hush attitude embodied by Colts management. New GM Chris Ballard was supposed to be a fierce advocate for his players and the team, but instead it seems as though he has become another one of Irsay’s pawns.
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