There's nothing like a fruitless trip across the pond for forced introspection.
The latest London loser to wonder where it all went wrong, the Indianapolis Colts have already fired two players while fielding criticism of high-profile members of the organization such as quarterback Andrew Luck, coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.
Echoing the sentiments of Colts legend Reggie Wayne, NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner explained to Andrew Siciliano of Up to the Minute Live that Luck is carrying the burden of too much responsibility for his team's fortunes.
"Let's be honest here. Since Andrew Luck has been with the Colts, they have not had a great supporting cast around him in any way, shape or form," Warner said. "... He has to do so much for this football team if they're going to have any chance of winning. How many times have we seen him fight and bring this team back late in the game with big plays and give them opportunities to win?"
After three NFL seasons, Luck was on pace to shatter the record for come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter. As the talent around him dissolves, though, those dramatic comeback attempts tend to fall short -- just as they have against the Lions, Broncos and Jaguars in the season's first month.
"This kid has been really special at times," Warner continued. "But they've asked him to do a whole bunch within this organization, and I think they're asking him to do way too much to expect to be able to do that every time out with the guys around him.
"So I point the finger much more at things around him whether it be the organization, the general manager and putting the pieces together around him to succeed more than I point it at Andrew Luck, even though after the last year and a half he hasn't played his best football, either."
Are Wayne and Warner guilty of concocting elaborate excuses for a perenniallyover-hypedsignal-caller?
Quite the contrary.
Whereas an oft-injured Luck deserved a heaping helping of blame for the Colts' 2015 meltdown, he has been the team's brightest light through four games this year.
Luck took the Wembley Stadium field behind an offensive line that featured rookies at center, right guard and right tackle. His receivers dropped a handful of passes and had trouble separating against Jacksonville's defense. The Coltsstill scored 27 points and came within one fourth-down conversion of a game-tying field-goal attempt.
How many quarterbacks have more factors working against them? Luck leads the league in sacks absorbed. His second-leading target this season is undersized, undrafted rookie tailback Josh Ferguson. He hasn't played with a 100-yard rusher since Vick Ballard late in the 2012 season. His perennially porous defense ranks 30th in scoring.
It's preposterous that Luck finds himself on the receiving end of criticism this season. His ball placement and pocket movement were downright sublime in Weeks 1 and 3. He's been impeccable in the red zone, completing 15 of 20 passes (75.0 percent) for six touchdowns and a 123.8 passer rating. Through four games, only Oakland's Derek Carr boasts a higher quarterback grade from the analytics site Pro Football Focus.
In analyzing Luck's value, the case of Atlanta's Matt Ryan is instructive. Did Ryan take a magic pill that transformed him from a 2015 liability into a 2016 MVP favorite?
Football is the ultimate team sport. The performance of the quarterback cannot be extracted from that of his surrounding talent.
If you're seeking the root cause of the Colts' dismal September, start with the architect and the overseer of a threadbare roster.