It's only two games but it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel for this Indianapolis Colts team.
On Sunday, they fell to 0-1-1 on the season after slogging through a baffling, yet predictable performance on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, falling by a score of 24-0.
It's well documented that the Colts haven't beaten Jacksonville on the road since 2014, losing in their last eight attempts. You'd hope to see a team come out and look inspired in that type of situation but the Colts were flat and overwhelmed from start to finish.
Here are some of my main observations from Sunday.
—Colts immediately outschemed, outplayed once again: At no point on Sunday did Frank Reich's squad look prepared to play, which has become a theme for them. The opponent comes out effective on offense while being able to rattle the Colts' defense. Indy actually did begin their first drive with some momentum before it came crashing down with a head-scratching interception (the first of three). That put the Jaguars' offense on the field, and they were ready to go. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence went 7-of-7 passing on the ensuing drive, which ended in a 10-yard touchdown pass to receiver Christian Kirk. That type of performance would continue throughout the rest of the day, as Jacksonville seemed to have things schemed up beautifully on offense, beating the Colts' defense with regularity. On the other side of the ball, the Colts' offense played like the Jaguars were aware of their game plan all week. The Colts mustered 218 yards of offense and finished a combined 2-of-12 (16.7%) on third and fourth downs while registering 0-of-2 in the red zone. They were sacked 5 times and turned the ball over 3 times.
—This team is uncharacteristically undisciplined: Even when the Colts struggled in recent memory, they weren't necessarily undisciplined and making a bunch of mental errors. Now, this Colts team is committing boneheaded penalties with regularity; things as simple as how to line up before the snap. It also doesn't seem as if they're following their supposed tasks throughout plays; coverage breakdowns in the middle of the field, for example. It's also quite evident that the players out there running pass routes are far from the same page as quarterback Matt Ryan, and it's resulting in interceptions. Ryan is making some poor choices and throws but many passes also seem to be going places they were intended to while the receiver is not.
—Tough choices to make moving forward: The Colts obviously cannot continue to do the same things they've been doing and expect things to turn out differently. The coaching has appeared to be completely overmatched on both sides of the ball, and there are several players who have been taken advantage of in important spots. Offensive tackles Matt Pryor and Braden Smith have given up immense pressure on Ryan. Ryan himself has made several questionable mistakes. Cornerback Kenny Moore II was slow to react to the Jaguars' opening touchdown, and him being victimized in coverage has become a thing in his last several games. In general, there are maybe only a few of the Colts' big-time players actually performing up to their standard. What, if any, changes are going to be made to correct these problems?
—What are the Colts good at currently?: Through two games, the Colts have absolutely zero positive identity. What we thought this team would be couldn't be farther from their current reality. What are they good at right now? Without Michael Pittman Jr., who was out on Sunday with a quad injury, they can't pass the ball. They struggle to protect Ryan in the pocket, and he doesn't appear to have much chemistry with anyone other than Pittman. Jonathan Taylor is as elite as they come as a runner but he's creating a lot of his own yards without much help from the offensive line. On defense, what's impressed you outside of defensive tackle Grover Stewart? They aren't getting after the quarterback, and opposing pass-catchers are receiving gifts all day long.
—Benefit of the doubt is gone: People had a lot of thoughts about what the Colts' issues might be entering the season, and the Colts gave reassuring responses to all of them. So far, the doubters are right. The Colts' unproven receiving corps has been a big issue. The offensive line with its new starting left tackle is a problem. The defense, which was given Yannick Ngakoue and Stephon Gilmore in the offseason, couldn't stop a leaky faucet. New coordinator Gus Bradley's defense hasn't posed any schematic challenge to its opponents. It's now difficult for fans to trust anything reassuring that the Colts can say.
—Strap in, these first two weeks were the "easy" part: The Colts remain winless through two weeks, and unfortunately for them, this was supposed to be a pretty straightforward beginning to their season against two teams in the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars that combined for a 7-27 record last season. Next up for the Colts are Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning AFC South champion Tennessee Titans, Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos, the Jaguars again, and the Titans again. Buckle up!