The Indianapolis Colts have to spend the entire offseason being scorned, berated and laughed at for botching a golden opportunity to make the 2021 postseason. Sunday's blowout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who own the NFL's worst record, was the cherry on top of the embarrassment.
After a day to reflect on the loss, Colts coach Frank Reich owned the disaster, saying the only option is to learn, grow and ensure it doesn't happen again.
"When you start thinking about how this was all going to end, certainly no one including myself really ever thought it would end like it did the last two weeks," Reich said Monday, via the team's official website. "That's something that can't be undone. It's part of our record. It's part of my record. Not a shining moment, but the analogy and thought that came to my mind this morning was, it's a scar.
"You get injured, you go through an experience in life that you weren't anticipating and it hurt. You end up with a scar from that experience. That's essentially the way I'm looking at what happened this year in this particular last two weeks. There's no way to undo it. So, what are we going to do? How are we going to respond? How am I going to respond? Well, we're going to learn from it and get better."
It wasn't just Sunday's humiliating blowout loss to the disoriented Jags. The Colts flubbed two straight win-and-in scenarios.
The collapse set the stage for a grueling offseason in Indy.
The big question for most is what the Colts will do at quarterback, where Carson Wentz struggled mightily, particularly down the stretch. His 185-yard day Sunday with a TD and INT highlighted a season in with the QB could never take advantage of defenses. In 17 starts, Wentz went over the 300-yard mark twice (both in losses) and threw for fewer than 200 yards in eight contests.
The ordinarily supportive Reich notably did not commit to Wentz as the starter in 2022.
"We'll take it piece by piece," Reich said. "We'll evaluate (Wentz's) play. We'll evaluate how we're coaching him, how I'm coaching him, with each position in the pass game. Take it apart piece by piece, and then put it back together."
Reich noted he must evaluate everything after the struggles down the stretch and insisted the focus is on more than just the QB.
"We loved the team we had this year, we knew everyone we brought in this year, we expected to play winning football," Reich said when asked directly if Wentz is the starter moving forward. "Next year's roster will be next year's roster. I don't want to open it up about one player and then start talking about all of them."
Reich might want to avoid the QB questions as long as possible, but after the 2021 struggles, they'll be the burning topic in Indy for the next eight months.