There is no easy fix for the run defense: They'll be better — primarily because it's difficult to imagine they could be any worse than they were in the second half — but it will take a significant amount of effort from the coaches and players. If it were just the absence of Bob Sanders, poor tackling, bad angles, lack of penetration, or overall lack of confidence and effort, then one of those things could be fixed fairly quickly.
The issue is that all of those things were problems on Sunday, so it will take time and determination to fix it all. Ultimately, not everything will get fixed.
The silver lining is that the Colts held Arian Foster to 40 yards on ten carries in the first half, so a big part of the issue could just be conditioning, which tends to improve throughout the course of the season.
There is no real excuse or positive spin that can make up for their atrocious performance in the second half, though. Jim Caldwell could have rushed for 100 yards the way the front seven was penetrating and the way the Houston offensive line was coming off the ball.
With another tough challenge coming up next week in the New York Giants, Indianapolis has a lot of work to do. Most issues can be fixed over time, but the largest issue is the fact that the defense appeared to lie down in the fourth quarter. There are number of games on the schedule that look like they will be tight and the Colts will need their defense to be in top form in the last 15 minutes like they generally were in 2009.
The best defense is a good offense: Peyton Manning and company scored ten points when it mattered. The first three drives of the game were stalled by three miscues on three third downs. If the Colts had scored on those three drives, the Texans would have had a different approach on offense to open up the second half.
Since what ails the run defense will not be fixed overnight, Indianapolis will need to score points and sustain drives in order to keep their defense off the field and let them work with a lead. There have been a number of personnel changes over the years and the Colts have gotten bigger on the inside, but this is still a defense that is at its best when it has a lead. The offense needs to help them out by giving them that lead.
Low yardage does not mean ineffectiveness in the running game: Joseph Addai only had 44 yards rushing, but he averaged 4.4 yards per carry. That means Indianapolis attempted only ten rushes the entire game. It's true that they were behind for the entire game, but they didn't face a huge deficit until late in the fourth quarter.
Manning attempted 30 passes in a first half that ended with Houston only leading by three points. In the first series, Manning was operating out of the shotgun — and attempted a pass — on third and one. Last season, the Colts abandoned the running game because it wasn't working.
So far this season — and remember, it IS only one game — all the lip service paid to the running game appears to be just that. Joseph Addai was running with confidence and was gaining enough yardage that it would have been worth their while to attempt more than ten rushing attempts in a game that was tight enough to do so through the first three quarters.
The Colts need to work on their silent count: Somehow, Jamey Richard was only called for one false start penalty, though I counted at least three occasions where he rocked back when he went into his set. But, the bigger problem is this: If I could time the snap count watching the game on TV starting on the second series on offense for Indianapolis, there is a 100 percent chance that the Texans defensive line was able to time it better.
Manning was harassed for most of the game and was sacked twice. Houston's defensive line played a solid game and were definitely hustling, but the added quarter step they gained from knowing the snap count gave them a significant advantage.
The team looked frazzled and "off" in general: The defensive issues are well documented. The offensive issues went beyond the silent count. Dropped passes, missed blocking assignments, and sloppy penalties — Manning accounted for two of those with a delay of game penalty and a procedure penalty that was called on Addai but occurred as a result of Manning hiking the ball before Addai was set — are all things that don't usually happen in the first game of the season to the Indianapolis Colts.
The fact that the coaches, personnel, and system have all been mostly in place for the past several seasons usually gives the Colts a head start on the rest of the league. They don't need to find their groove and timing offensively because they're just picking up where they left off last year (and the year before that and the year before that).
Maybe it's too soon to say this, but, on Sunday, they seemed to have picked up where they left off in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, which is not a good jumping off point.
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