Andrew Luck was supposed to play into the third quarter Saturday night versus the Philadelphia Eagles. Instead, coach Chuck Pagano yanked the starting quarterback at halftime.
When asked after the 33-23 loss how much the struggles of the offensive line factored into the decision to change gears, Pagano replied, "a lot."
General manager Ryan Grigson has drafted nine offensive linemen over the past four years, yet Luck continues to get beaten up. Saturday night Luck was sacked three times and pressured on 55.6 percent of his dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus.
"It's hard to get anything going (when) you are in second-and-long or you have a holding penalty and you are first-and-20, second-and-20, whatever it is," he said. "When you don't have a clean pocket then you don't have time to stand in there and push the ball down the field like we wanted to sometimes. There were some decent plays made here and there but we've got to be better obviously."
The Colts got good news Sunday regarding left guard Jack Mewhort. After fearing a torn ACL, further tests show teh offensive lineman will avoid surgery and miss two to four weeks. Mewhort's absence, even for a short time, will sting the left side of the line, which was supposed to be the bedrock of the blocking unit this season.
Rookie center Ryan Kelly was drafted to instantly upgrade the middle of the shaky group, but is going through a feeling-out process. Kelly surrendered a sack and two hurries on Saturday.
"Like I told them, I am disappointed like they are because we are better than that," Pagano said. "I know we can play better than that. Again, I'm not going to make any excuses, but we've got some guys out of there right now that have been in there. So from a continuity standpoint, it makes a difference having five guys in there that have been in there day after day and week after week playing together. You start playing musical chairs again and it's tough."
Offensive line troubles contributed heavily to Luck's dismal, injury-plagued 2015 season. We are seeing the start of the same story in 2016.