Can the Colts be an example for the Bears as they rebuild?
LAKE FOREST – If you think five wins last year was bad, you weren’t in Indianapolis in 2011.
When Peyton Manning was out with a neck injury, the victories went with it. Almost all of them.
It wasn’t till December that the Colts their first victory after losing the first 13 games of the season. The offense could produce little to no production and because of that the defense was mostly under productive.
Sorry Bears fans, five wins was nothing like what happened in Indianapolis four years ago and not really worth the comparison to the five-win campaign of 2014 under Marc Trestman. That was a lull. The Colts year was a full dive that required a massive rebuild.
But when the Bears go to face the Colts for a pair of practices this week and then a full game on Saturday, they’d do themselves a favor by taking a look at their path since that difficult year.
“It’s important to see other people. What they do, styles of play,” said Bears head coach John Fox when asked about the benefit of having a preseason practice against another team.
Perhaps they should look at what they’ve done since that bad year. With a new coach (Chuck Pagano) and quarterback (1st overall pick Andrew Luck) the Colts have made the playoffs in the last three seasons and have won 11 games in each of those years. Like clockwork they’ve advanced one round further in the playoffs each season, making it to the AFC Championship this past January.
Yes, a once-in-a-generation-talent like Luck has a lot to do with it and the NFC North is much more formidable than the AFC South, but the Colts found the recipe for quick success after a disastrous season.
“They have the model for what it is to be successful in this league,” said offensive guard Kyle Long of the Colts. “So it would be a good idea to see how they practice and how the go about their business and also get to see some other guys in a practice setting.
“We practice against them twice and then we get to play them on Saturday so that will be a really good experience for the younger guys and for all of us.”
Especially for the Colts defense who will get a workout from Luck’s offense. The group features Pagano originals (T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen) along with some new additions (Frank Gore, Andre Johnson) that add to an offense that averaged 28.6 points and 406.6 yards of total offense a game.
Cornerback Alan Ball saw that first hand with the Jaguars in 2013 and 2014-when his team failed to pick up a win over Indianapolis in four tries.
“Andrew Luck, he’s special back there,” said Ball. “They’ve got some good receivers that are consistent. You see what T.Y. Hilton is doing on the regular and they’ve got Andre Johnson now who’s a big factor no matter where he’s at. So they can make plays.”
But for a Bears defense that didn’t last year-that’s not a bad thing. Plus they get some extra time to get some work in on Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense that was just installed this spring.
“I’m really excited to get to work with those guys,” said Ball of the Colts. “They have a really good receiver group and I think it’s going to be a challenge for our guys to not only work with them in practice but also on the field on Saturday.”
Maybe the Colts will give the Bears a peek of their rebuilding syllabus while they’re at it.