Colts’ options include switching to no-huddle offense

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) INDIANApolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano put
everything on the table this week.

With a team still struggling to start fast, still struggling to
protect Andrew Luck, still piecing together a defense that can live
up to Pagano’s standards and still chasing their second win, he
doesn’t really have a choice.

Something must change Sunday against Chicago, and it could begin to
give Indy’s offense a whole new look.

”It’s something that we’ll continue to have dialogue about and
with and talk about it as a staff,” he said when asked about
starting the game in the no-huddle.

Pagano, of course, would prefer to keep the Bears (1-3) guessing
all week, rather than dropping hints about any potential changes.

Even if it is merely gamesmanship, it’s certainly time to
contemplate making a switch.

Indy has already been outscored 64-35 in the first half, while
outscoring opponents 51-39 in the fourth quarter when they have
largely been using the hurry-up offense to try and rally.

The numbers, and Luck’s 15 come-from-behind wins, have created a
perception among fans that the Colts’ offense does its best work
when Luck cranks up the pace and makes decisions on the fly.

Luck isn’t so sure.

”A lot of those up-tempos have been when we’re down big and maybe
the defense is a little more soft, in a sense,” he said after
Wednesday’s practice.

”But I don’t think we’ve only been successful running the hurry-up
offense. I think we can be successful with whatever is called.”

Indy (1-3) has had trouble executing the simplest plays this
season, though.

Last weekend, a wide-open Josh Ferguson dropped a screen pass that
would have kept the Colts’ opening possession alive. Instead, Indy
wound up punting.

On the Colts’ next series, Dwayne Allen dropped a pass that would
have taken Indianapolis inside Jacksonville territory. On the next
play, Luck’s batted ball was intercepted and set up the Jaguars’
first touchdown.

The miscues have caused so much consternation among fans that
they’re clamoring for the team to try something, anything to get
Indy out of this early funk and a growing chorus is urging the
Colts to use more no-huddle.

Players think the fans have a point.

”It gives us a lot of advantages,” receiver T.Y. Hilton said
Wednesday. ”We can get the defense tired, it helps the offensive
line (protect). If we go to it, we should be good with it. I like
it.”

Making a switch comes with some real risks.

Pagano has always preferred a balanced attack that includes a power
ground game, a feature that could easily get lost when playing fast.

Plus, with the Colts averaging 4.13 yards per first-down play, the
second-lowest average in the league, failing to consistently pick
up first downs could force the defense to stay on the field longer.
It’s a real concern for a team that has sabotaged itself with
drops, penalties and sacks allowed.

”It’s execution, it’s finishing a drive, it’s getting points,”
Luck said. ”Whatever’s called, we just have to execute it better.”

But if throwing a change-up at the Bears prevents Indy from falling
into another early deficit, enduring another bad first half or
dealing with another loss, then Pagano could make the perfect pitch.

”We’ve got to be better,” he said. ”If you’re 4-0, you’ve
probably got the same problems going on, but nobody’s talking about
it. When you’re 1-3, come on, what else are you going to talk
about, your great record? Let’s keep it real.”

Notes: After releasing starting inside linebacker Sio Moore on
Tuesday, Pagano said he expected veteran Josh McNary and rookie
Antonio Morrison to play the bulk of the snaps. Moore was the
Colts’ leading tackler. … Cornerback Darius Butler (hamstring),
right tackle Joe Reitz (back) and right guard Denzelle Good (back)
all did limited work at practice Wednesday. Running back Frank Gore
(chest) and outside linebacker Erik Walden (chest) did not
practice. … Backup offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison will not
play Sunday after having an appendectomy last week. Pagano is
hoping Harrison will return next week. … DT Art Jones spoke to
reporters for the first time in a month and said he’ll be ready to
play as soon as the team clears him. Jones returned Monday from a
four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on
performing-enhancing substances.

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