Behind Enemy Lines

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Behind Enemy Lines: An Inside Look at the Colts

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans have won two straight, and this Sunday they'll face the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium.

The Titans beat the Browns 28-26 this past Sunday, while the Colts lost 26-23 in overtime to the Houston Texans.

The Titans (3-3) will be looking to snap a nine-game losing streak to the Colts (2-4), who lead the overall series 29-14.

This week I caught up with my buddy Mike Chappell, who has covered the Colts since they moved to Indianapolis in 1984. Chappell previously worked for the Indianapolis Star, and he's now he's with Fox59/CBS4.  You can follow him on Twitter, and join over 30,000 others, @mchappell51.

Wyatt: Hey Mike. I appreciate you doing this. First off, I have to ask you about the game on Sunday night. The Colts had that game in hand, with a two-touchdown lead, only to see the Texans come back and win it. What did that do to the psyche, and mood, of the team?

Chappell: I think initially they were probably stunned, dazed and confused. It was only the fourth time in team history they'd blown a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, going back to Baltimore. They were up 23-9, and Houston scored two touchdowns in the last three minutes, without even an onside kick for crying out loud. So they were stunned, because it looked like they have finally put together 60 minutes, and what they put together was 57 minutes and that is how this team is, it finds ways to lose. They've had all six games come down to the last two minutes, and I could argue very easily they could be 4-2. They had a 35-34 lead with 37 seconds to play against Detroit in the opener and the defense loses it. And here they have a two-touchdown lead with three minutes to play and the defense loses it, so it's not even a stretch to say they could be 4-2. If you are any kind of a team at all you have to find a way to win those games, and they couldn't do it.


Wyatt: I just looked at quarterback Andrew Luck's numbers and a few things stand out. I see he's already thrown for 1,721 yards and 11 touchdowns. But I also noticed he's been sacked 23 times already. How has he been playing so far?

Chappell: He has played pretty well. I am probably over the top in defense of him because they have so many other issues. The problem is, whenever he makes a mistake it is a killer. It is a killer because the team is not good enough to overcome it. He's had some balls he shouldn't have thrown, and it's hurt them. But if your team is good you can overcome some mistakes. The quarterbacks are going to make mistakes, and he has four interceptions, but to me they are not good enough to overcome his mistakes. The sacks, 23, the team record is 62. So they are probably on pace for just about that now. Some of it is him, because he has held the ball too long. But most of it is the offensive line. It is still coming together. They like the group they've got – they have two rookies starting, the center (Ryan Kelly), who is going to be pretty good. The right tackle (Joe Haeg) is going to be pretty good but he is not yet, he is still up and down. Denzelle Good, the right guard, this is his first year to play guard -- he was a tackle last year. So it is just coming together. Most of the game against Houston they held up pretty well, and then in three or four plays in the second half and fourth quarter and overtime they didn't. So that is what you get. But Andrew has played pretty well, and if I listed my five biggest concerns, he would be No.5. He has played well enough to win.


Wyatt: OK, so what would be atop your list of biggest concerns for the Colts after six games?

Chappell: The defense is not very good. And until they can get the defense fixed -- which they can't, because it's talent – I am not sure how good this team can be. The defense is on pace to be one of the worst in team history as far as yards and points. And again, not being able to hold two leads late in the game -- that is just awful. The defense has no playmakers. Vontae Davis is a quality corner, and he did a real good job on DeAndre Hopkins at Houston. Robert Mathis got his first sack of the season in the first series and has done very little after that. They're just a bunch of guys. The secondary is a mess because Patrick Robinson, who was one of their offseason acquisitions, has been in and out of the lineup and not doing well when he's been in it. Darius Butler, who is a nickel corner, has been hurt all year. It has been one thing after another. He has a fractured finger on his right hand – he played with a club on his hand against Houston. He needs to play. They have two good young safeties in T.J. Green and Clayton Geathers. Safety Mike Adams is getting up there in age, and he is wearing down. And the linebackers have been awful, they are just not very good, and that is where they are getting killed in the running game.


Wyatt: So what have been some of the bright spots for the Colts? I know T.Y. Hilton has put up some great numbers already (38 catches, 556 yards, 3 TDs) and it looks like running back Frank Gore (100 carries, 434 yards, 2 TDs) has been effective, too.

Chappell: Gore is playing well. He is not the problem. He had a couple of protection breakdowns the other day, but he is playing well, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. He got 100 yards against the Texans, and that was the first time a Colt had turned in a 100-yard game since Week 14 of 2012. It broke a streak of 56 straight regular season games without a 100-yard rusher. That is obscene. He is running hard, and he's on pace for 1,000 yards, which would be their first since 2007. T.Y. Hilton has been up and down. He's had a couple of really big games, and then some games where he has not been very effective. One thing to watch for is they are going to be without tight end Dwayne Allen this week, he has an ankle sprain, and he'll miss a couple of games. And also they finished the game without receivers Phillip Dorsett and Quan Bray, so they only had two healthy wide receivers at the end of the game. They are without Donte Moncreif, who is a big loss. He has a shoulder injury he's missed time with. But they are hurting at the skill positions. If Dorsett or Bray can't go, they are really getting thin at receiver.


Wyatt: OK, Mike. I have two more for you. The Colts have dominated this series of late, there's no getting around it. The Titans have momentum with two straight wins, while the Colts are coming off a heartbreaking loss. How do you think the Colts will respond this week against the Titans?

Chappell: I want to say they are going to respond well, but there is no reason to think that to be honest. The problem is, this is a bad matchup for the Colts. The Colts have given up back-to-back 100-yard games, and they just don't hold up against the run. I can just see long drives, I can see 8 plays, 70 yards. I can see 12 plays, 81 yards. I just see extended drives because these guys don't stand up to that. And them Marcus Mariota is going to fake it to DeMarco Murray and go for 30 yards. So I don't like the matchup. Maybe Luck can do enough to where Tennessee has to play catch-up. But these Colts have a lot of rookies on the roster, and a lot of guys who have no ties to the old regime that created the winning culture. So I have no idea how they are going to respond at all. But they are about one bad loss from really unraveling. I don't think (owner) Jim Irsay would fire anybody midseason, because what does that prove and who do you turn to? If you fire Chuck Pagano, what are you going to do, put Joe Philbin or Rob Chudzinski in charge? That wouldn't work. But they are about one bad loss from really unraveling. I don't know that Tennessee is the type of team that can put a 40-13 loss on them, but we'll see. One interesting note is last year midseason they set an NFL record for winning 16 straight division wins. Since then they have lost four out of five in the division, and the only one they won was against the Titans. I just think the talent level is not that good right now. But this is a monster game for the Colts.


Wyatt: Last thing, Mike. You've covered so many Titans-Colts games over the year. Any of them really stand out to you?

Chappell: If somebody says 'Colts-Titans' the one thing that sticks in my mind is a catch Colts receiver Marvin Harrison made there during his playing days. It was probably the best catch of his career, a diving catch, one-handed. But what sticks in my mind forever is Eddie George gashing the Colts in the playoffs (during the 1999 season). The newspaper ran a picture the next day that showed Eddie George running through the middle and there's like three Colts chasing him. So for whatever reason when I think if Colts-Titans I think of Peyton Manning's first playoff game that season against the Titans, but remember it most for Eddie George's long touchdown run that day.

TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series with the Indianapolis Colts. (AP Photos)

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