Colts scramble to find quick fix to stagnant offense | Region

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts thought Matt Ryan and Jonathan Taylor would lead their offense.

Instead, the former league MVP and defending NFL champion became the headliners of the league’s lowest-rated teams.

Yes, two weeks without a win in the season, Ryan, Taylor and coach Frank Reich find themselves stalling and scrambling to find solutions.

“Collectively we haven’t been good enough and go back to what Frank talked about on Monday. We have to, individually, look at the things we can do better,” Ryan said on Wednesday. “I know our group does that.”

At times, the Colts (0-1-1) looked downright ugly. In the first three quarters of their first two games, they scored a total of three points.

They’ve already been shut out once and without a 17-point fourth-quarter rally in Houston, the numbers would be even gloomier.

The good news is that Indy remains within striking distance of the AFC South lead thanks to four teams that combined for a win.

But if the Colts don’t find a solution, this season’s goals could quickly get out of reach.

They host the high-octane Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) on Sunday and two-time defending champion AFC South Tennessee (0-2) in Week 4 before heading to Denver (1- 1) Thursday evening during week 5.

They’ll likely need to score more than the 10 points they’ve averaged so far to earn one of those three.

Reich has been here before.

He led the Buffalo Bills to the greatest playoff comeback in NFL history in January 1993 and the Maryland Terrapins to one of college football’s greatest comebacks in November 1984.

He also led Indy from a 1-5 start to the playoffs in 2018, came close to starting again last season when the Colts were 1-5, and helped the Philadelphia Eagles win a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback.

Reich therefore did not change his philosophy.

“You can look at a really bad loss like this and you have to resist the temptation to overreact, to make big changes,” he said. “It’s not about making things more complex, it’s not about making wholesale changes. You must do what you do. We just have to do better.”

Almost anything would be better than what Colts fans watched in the first two weeks.

They acquired Ryan in part because they believed he would provide stability and leadership. They’ve had six straight season openers with a new quarterback.

Instead, Ryan barely got started. He was sacked seven times and came under heavy pressure in many other games. Result: four interceptions and five fumbles. In Ryan’s previous 14 seasons, he only exceeded six fumbles four times.

“I think there’s frustration everywhere, but we’re not going to let that get to us,” right tackle Braden Smith said. “All it takes is a guy missing a block here or there or missing a mission. It’s just about getting everyone on the same path, working together as one and we will be successful.

The problems also showed up in the ground game even though Taylor played well. He averages 5.38 yards per carry and ranks third in rushing yards (215).

Still, he had just nine carries as the Colts made 48 offensive plays in last week’s abysmal 24-0 loss at Jacksonville.

Of course, getting their top two receivers, Michael Pittman Jr. (calf) and Alec Pierce (concussion protocol) would help. Both missed last week’s game and Reich remains hopeful of playing against the Chiefs.

But the main concern is the offensive line.

He entered this season with three potential Pro Bowlers — left guard Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly and Smith — and fell short of expectations.

The main focus was on new left tackle Matt Pryor and new right guard Danny Pinter, two players that Reich and general manager Chris Ballard hired several times before the season opener.

However, each struggled at times, prompting calls from fans for roster changes.

Reich, for now, is refusing those demands and has focused his attention on something he sees as more critical – simply playing better football in general.

“Obviously in the last game it wasn’t good on offense, but it wasn’t good anywhere on offense,” he said. “We believe in what we do, we believe in who we do. We have to look within, find ways to improve – it’s a collective effort to achieve that.”

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