Each week, Heather Lloyd (aka The Blue Mare) will offer her Indianapolis Colts insights. This week, Heather shares her thoughts with Phillip B. Wilson on losing outside linebacker Robert Mathis to an Achilles injury, the opening loss at Denver and the upcoming Monday Night Football home game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Phil B: I guess we’ve got start with the news that everybody is talking about. Your heart breaks when you hear about Robert Mathis?
Heather: O-o-o-h. It’s just a killer. The fact that we were bracing ourselves to be without him four games anyway, I don’t know if that makes it easier or harder. We thought we weren’t going to have him for part of the season, now we’re not going to have him for the whole season. It’s a killer. He’s such a key part of that locker room, both inside and outside, he’s such a leader on the field and off, it’s tough. My heart’s broken for us and my heart’s broken for him because I know it’s going to hurt no one more than it’s hurting him right now.
Phil B: How much do you worry about the Colts’ pass rush without him?
Heather: It’s always an opportunity for another player to step up and step in. I just wrote about the fact that without Reggie Wayne last season, it created opportunities for guys like T.Y. Hilton and Griff Whalen to be a part of our offense. It’s the same thing on defense. There are some young players right now on that defense that are just dying for an opportunity to get in there and contribute and become a major contributor to the team. Hey, this is their time. But the bigger that player is, the bigger those shoes are, the harder it is to fill. Boy, Robert Mathis, that’s a really, really tough role to fill on that team, both on the field and off.
Phil B: Do you have a Robert Mathis story about dealing with him?
Heather: There is just something about how he handles everything. I haven’t really had the opportunity to talk to him one-on-one, but just the way he handles himself, even the stuff that he sends out (on Twitter) after games. He always, always is inspiring. He’s always positive. He always takes responsibility for what happens, again, whether it’s on or off the field. He’s such a great, inspiring role model for football players and for football fans. I know he will continue to do that. It’s not like we’re not going to hear from him. It’s not like we’re not going to see him. But I know the Colts are going to miss him, the fans are going to miss him, and he’s going to be out there working every day to get back on that field, we know that already. And I know he’ll be vocal about that in his absence.
Phil B: Well, let’s get to the game. You were having a heart attack in the first half when the Colts were down 24-0 at Denver?
Heather: You know, it’s funny because I was more nervous before the game started because I didn’t know what to expect. That’s always the hardest time for me. I literally was, you just get that nervous energy and you don’t know what to do with yourself. Once the game started and once Andrew Luck threw that first pass to Reggie Wayne, I was oddly calm after that. And then the funny thing is, as the game got going, it was like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ It was just like last season. Slow start. Lots of mistakes in the first half. Husband went to bed at halftime. It was like a script from last season. And I’m saying, ‘Don’t give up yet. You know what can happen here.’ Sure enough, in the third quarter, things started turning around. Then in the fourth quarter, not only are they back in the thing but they’re in great position to get in there and win it. It’s just that, again, the further you get down and the further the clock ticks away, you’ve got to take advantage of every single opportunity. Again, they weren’t able to do that, and enough stuff did not fall into place where they could close that one out. It was like the same, old game, and that was good and bad. The bad is we’re making mistakes, we’re not capitalizing on opportunities. To get that close to the goal line and not be able to run that ball in a couple of times, that was almost inexcusable. But, you know, it’s game one, they’ve got stuff to work on, they’ll work on it. I actually think, all in all, I feel like with the concerns we had about the defense and the offensive line, I feel like Week 1 where they were at in that game and what they were able to do in the second half, I feel really positive about what they’re going to be able to do given some time with the rest of the season.
Phil B: That’s what I was going to ask you next. What’s your percentage on the encouraged versus discouraged meter?
Heather: Honestly, I am 80 percent encouraged by that game, I really am. I look at it as a whole and I say most of the stuff I saw that they were able to do, especially in the second half, makes me feel great about the team. It really does. The things we were most weak at last season, I feel like we’ve at least improved those things a little bit. I think the defense was able to get out there and do some stuff. The running game, I feel a lot better about that. Trent Richardson can improve, but he was able to get out there and run a little bit. Ahmad Bradshaw looks great. In those two areas, that’s something to build on. Sometimes, they’re going to have bad luck and sometimes you’re going to have bad execution. That first field-goal attempt was crazy, I don’t know what was going on there but it was bad communication. Those are the things that they can clean up. I know we joke when the Colts come back and say it’s correctible, but let’s face it, mistakes like that on special teams are correctible because you don’t see it very happen, and you know when they do it they’re going to make sure that it doesn’t become a habit.
Phil B: Toward the end, they were fighting to get back in and had one shot to tie it, how excited were you then? I thought they were going to do it.
Heather: I really did, too. There’s no reason to think they’re not going to be able to do it based on what they’ve been able to do so many times in the past. But again, it’s the law of averages. When you set yourself up that many times to get in that position, it’s not always going to happen. That’s why it’s important that you don’t start the game like that and get down at halftime and then have to come back and try to do this miraculous thing. The lesson is just let’s not start slow like this. And honestly I don’t want to see that many more Andrew Luck diving into the end zone plays. They’re amazing, they’re great to put on Twitter, they’re fabulous pictures, but they scare the heck out of me.
Phil B: Your thoughts on Monday night against the Eagles?
Heather: That’s going to be an interesting game. They run a really fast offense. They were exciting to watch last year. I watched them a little bit in the preseason. It’s going to be fun. I think for the most part I feel good about our matchup against them. It’s going to be another primetime game and I think the Colts are going to be really excited for that, but the biggest message I could give them is take care of the little things. Let’s get in there and not make silly mistakes that end up costing us in the end. Take care of all the little plays at the time they’re happening so we’re not going back in the fourth quarter and trying to make up for mistakes we made earlier in the game. That Eagles offense is very powerful. If we don’t take care of all the things that we need to take care of, it’s going to be easy to get in a situation again where we’re down to a team like that and have to come back. Let’s not do that.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.