The Indianapolis Colts entered the season with massive expectations. In fact, some fans even thought they could be a dark-horse pick to win the AFC title, as they have a strong offensive line, a solid defense, great running backs, and (potentially) a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz. However, through the first three weeks of the season, Indy continuously beat itself time and time again, which led to a disappointing 0-3 start.
The players refused to fall to 0-4, though.
Following the team’s third loss of the season, which came at the hands of its division rival, the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis held a players-only meeting. It seems that it may have played a part in its Week 4 win over the Miami Dolphins. But it also maybe gave the Colts the spark they needed to get back into playoff contention.
Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts had an atrocious start to the 2021 season
Many fans can point to the plethora of injuries the Colts have had so far this year as to why they started 0-3. Carson Wentz dealt with a foot injury in training camp before spraining two ankles in a Week 2 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson also had a foot injury in training camp, and the team has since put him on IR due to an ankle injury. Starting offensive lineman Braden Smith has missed time as well, and former Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has yet to play this year.
But despite various starters being unavailable, Indianapolis has just played bad football.
Throughout the first three weeks, the offensive line, which is supposed to be the team’s strength, rarely gave Wentz time in the pocket; star running back Johnathan Taylor didn’t receive nearly as many carries as he should have, and the Colts’ defense looked horrible. To put it simply: Indianapolis looked nothing like the team that went to the playoffs in 2020.
It seems, though, that everyone in the building knew they weren’t playing up to the level they are capable of, which led to a players-only meeting.
The Colts held a players-only meeting before beating the Dolphins in Week 4
According to The Athletic, defensive end Kemoko Turay approached All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner on the Monday after Indy’s loss to the Titans, and Turay discussed the team’s struggles, including his own.
The conversation then played a role in Buckner and his teammates holding a players-only meeting.
During said meeting, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad essentially wanted his teammates to know that being hurt is different from being injured.
“If you’re hurt, you still have to practice,” he said, per The Athletic. “Everyone is hurting. We’re losing. We’re 0-3. We need to practice.”
All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard also told everyone to worry about their job, while Buckner wanted everyone to just stay the course.
Taylor called the meeting “intimate,” and tight end Mo Alie-Cox said, “the message hit.”
“Nobody took it personal. We’re all professionals here,” Alie-Cox said, per The Athletic.
It seems the meeting resulted in the Colts’ 27-17 win over the Dolphins in Week 4. They still struggled at times, but the performance was certainly an improvement over the previous weeks.
But will it be enough to turn their season around?
Can Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts turn their season around?
The players-only meeting wasn’t a first for the Colts in recent seasons. In 2018, Indy started 1-5 but ultimately went 10-6 that year and made it to the divisional round of the postseason.
But this 2021 team isn’t the 2018 team.
On paper, the Colts are more talented this year than they were in 2018. But Indy also had a healthy Andrew Luck that season. Wentz has played well so far, throwing for 920 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception through four games, but he hasn’t played at the level Luck did.
Indy also has a brutal schedule this season. After already playing the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, and Tennessee Titans, its upcoming opponents still consist of the Titans again, the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, and Las Vegas Raiders.
We will likely know whether the players-only meeting actually had an impact after seeing how the Colts fare in those games.
But looking on the bright side, while Indianapolis has dealt with a ton of injuries, the team is only one game back of first place in the AFC South thanks to the New York Jets’ upset win over the Titans in Week 4. If Wentz and company can just keep pace with Tennessee, they will give themselves a chance to make the playoffs at the end of the year.
Whether the Colts go on a run or not, though, it seems the players-only meeting kept them from falling into an insurmountable 0-4 hole. For now, it essentially saved their season.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference