It was a tale of two reactions from fans and team after the Colts lost 42-20 to the New England Patriots Sunday night, Nov. 16. And, while the Colts’ natural, and expected, assurance to fans to relax, “stay the course”, and continue to “build the monster”, and the collective fans’ response that maybe it’s time for Frankenstein to be tinkered with are certainly understandable, this hyperbole from both sides needs to stop.
What the Colts fans need is a team that admits they just got their butts kicked, and what the Colts need is a fan base that doesn’t run away when their team gets knocked out.
It’s easy to see where the fans are coming from, though. The Colts lost, handily, to this Patriots team in the playoffs last year, and lost, handily again, last night to the same team, who used the exact same winning formula as they did last time: a simple handoff to a no-name running back. This time, in the form of Jonas Gray, who ran for an embarrassingly large, career-making number of 199 yards and four touchdowns.
There’s no excuse for that, and after being embarrassed by the Steelers in the air three weeks ago, and the Patriots on the ground last night, there’s no reason to pretend that “staying the course” is an option.
But, on the other hand, what does one expect the Colts’ front office to say to a fan base after their team was mentally and physically bullied by their longtime rivals? That they have no idea how to beat the Patriots? That this New England team has their number, for the umpteenth time in 15 years, and that the fans should expect another loss at the hands of this team in the playoffs?
But the Colts need to give the fans a little more credit than serving them up the stereotypical rhetoric of “every game is equally important,” and “we’re moving on to the next team”; as Head Coach, Chuck Pagano, told the media last night. This game was crucially important, more important than next week’s opponent, Jacksonville, whether you buy into the Colts-Patriots rivalry or not. The loss cost the Colts home-field advantage, barring a Broncos or Patriots total implosion, and it obviously has had a tremendous effect on the fans’ psyche. The Colts, for lack of a better term, stunk last night, and whether they want to or not, need to admit to the fan base that they lost a big, very important game.
It’s that kind of honesty from a team that builds transparency and trust, and quells the reactions from fans that we saw last night; the ones calling for Pagano and Pep’s head; the statements which are just as pointless as the team reassuring the fans “we will come back stronger after this.”
“#ColtsNation Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. This @Colts team champions adversity,” Carley Irsay told the fans on Twitter last night.
Who believes that? Are we watching a Disney movie? As smart as a PR move as it seems to say these types of things, reciting from a fortune cookie’s greatest hits book tells fans that you really don’t know what, exactly, to say to them.
What it is time for, whether you’re part of the Colts franchise or a devoted fan, is to get real. There is no “monster.” Monsters don’t exist. But the Colts are a good team. In fact, the Colts are a top four team in the AFC, behind the Patriots and Broncos, and on par with the Steelers, Ravens, Chargers, or Chiefs. The Colts have proven they can win against any team not named New England, but there’s where the conversation needs to start. How do we, the Colts, beat the Patriots?
The Colts got knocked out last night, by the same heavyweight that knocks them out year after year, and it’s time we all come to the reality that the Colts aren’t on the Patriots’ level, yet. The quicker we admit this weakness, the faster we can get to learning how to beat them.