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Josh Wilson of Stampede Blue was nice enough to answer 5 questions about his Indianapolis Colts for us. Wilson took over running SB for he who shall not be named and is doing a great job.
1. How bad are things really between Grigson and Pagano?
It's not Jim Harbaugh/49ers toxic, but it's not too rosy either. There have been so many reports about the disagreements between the two that it's hard to ignore, and it's 100% accurate to say that the two don't get along too well. They have too much respect for each other on a personal level to let it get too toxic, but it's not great. Grigson has more control than Pagano would like, including at times over who plays and, according to reports, over who is hired for Pagano's staff. Things haven't been great for a while, but it sounds like they may have gotten much worse when Pagano was only offered a small, one-year extension this offseason. And it sounds like Jim Irsay isn't completely sold on Pagano yet either, as Irsay reportedly is inclined to not be as patient as he was during the Peyton Manning era as he wants multiple Super Bowl championships with Andrew Luck. I really don't know how much of an impact the tension and reports are having on the Colts' season so far, but it can't be good. The players love Pagano, and they surely can't help but hear all the talk. Simply put, things aren't going all too smoothly in Indianapolis, especially with an 0-2 start added on top of that. It's way too early to make any sort of predictions about what will happen because, as we know, winning can often cover over a lot of disagreements. Whether that is the case in this situation I don't know, but I will say that it wouldn't surprise me at all if Chuck Pagano isn't coaching the Colts in 2016.
2. Tell us what the Colts secondary is going to look like on Sunday with all of the injuries they have sustained.
It's not good, that's for sure. The good news is that Vontae Davis will be back, as he passed the concussion protocol, so that gives the Colts their star corner against the Titans. But after that is a lot of question marks. Darius Butler hasn't practiced this week and I wouldn't expect him to play, while Greg Toler has returned to practice in a limited role after missing several weeks, but I still highly doubt he will play. And then the team's fourth cornerback, rookie D'Joun Smith, is on injured reserve with the designation to return. So that leaves Jalil Brown and Sheldon Price, who played well in training camp and preseason but struggled last week against the Jets, and Josh Thomas, who the Colts signed this week. Assuming neither Toler or Butler play, the Titans should target whichever side of the field Vontae Davis isn't on a lot, as the player in coverage there would be at best someone who entered the season as the fifth cornerback option.
3. Andre Johnson and Frank Gore haven't looked good through 2 weeks. Do you expect them to come on, or are they both done?
I still am plenty optimistic about Frank Gore, because he has done some good things but hasn't really received many chances so far. Of course, there was the play where he just flat out dropped the ball at the goal line last week for a fumble, but other than that he has done some impressive things both as a runner and a blocker. But, again, the Colts haven't run with him as much as many fans would like and then, when they do, the team doesn't always do a great job of helping him. Whether it's holding penalties or blown blocks or poor play calling, the Colts haven't really helped Gore out a ton. I expect he'll get it going sooner rather than later.
Johnson, on the other hand, is more of an interesting discussion because I'm not quite sure what to make of him yet. The player we're seeing on the field so far in the first two weeks of the season isn't the same player we saw on the field during training camp or really even during preseason. He has struggled to get open and make plays, and he hasn't really had much of an impact on the offense. I'm inclined to say that once Andrew Luck starts to get going and playing good football that Johnson will benefit and look better by default, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see the offense shift more toward T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief and away from Johnson. With that said, however, the Colts aren't giving up on Johnson yet by any means, and I don't think we should quite yet either.
4. The Colts are 0-2 for the second straight year. Last year they rebounded to make it all the way to the AFC Championship game. Do you see them making a similar run this season, or are you concerned that they may be in for a long season?
I think what we've seen clearly is that not all 0-2 starts are created equal. Last year, 0-2 was rough but nothing major. After all, the Colts went on the road against a good Broncos team and then hosted a good Eagles team and lost by a combined ten points. Against the Broncos, the Colts came back and had a chance to win it at the end, and then against the Eagles the Colts led for much of the game before blowing it near the end. This year, however, has been a different story entirely. The Colts have been outscored 47-21 (it was 61-51 last year), scoring just 10.5 points per game, the lowest in the NFL (and a full 15 points less per game than they averaged during their 0-2 start last year). The positive is that their defense has looked better. The negative is that the offense has looked horrible.
So there are more legitimate concerns this year than last year, to be sure, but I still don't think the season is doomed by any means. And the reason lies with quarterback Andrew Luck. He has not been good whatsoever in the first two games of the season and has turned the football over six times. Every expectation is that he will turn it around and get things figured out, perhaps as soon as this Sunday against the Titans. And so I think that, once Luck gets going, this offense will look much better. This team is built so much around Luck that when he struggles the whole team will look bad, but it's unlikely that these struggles will continue all season. And so once Luck gets going, the Colts will likely start looking good again and, entering the playoffs, anything can happen if Luck is at quarterback and playing well.
5. Write the headline in Sunday's Tennessean.
"No Luck for Titans" (sorry, I couldn't resist)