INDIANAPOLIS – The bad news: the dress rehearsal did not go according to plan.
The good news: two more weeks remain before the curtain will be drawn for real.
In the final preseason action for the starters, the Colts could not muster much from their starting units, on either side of the ball, Saturday night.
Philadelphia jumped out to a two touchdown halftime lead, and as starters began to exit the Eagles maintained their distance in the second half, winning 33-23 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Chuck Pagano pointed to the following reasons why the Colts struggled on Saturday:
-Pass Protection: After Andrew Luck was not hit in eight pass attempts last week, the pass protection could not sustain without starting right tackle Joe Reitz. In a half of football, Luck was sacked three times and hit six times by the Eagles on Saturday night.
-The run game: A theme of the preseason has been the Colts struggling to get anything going on the ground. On Saturday, they had 39 rushing yards on 18 carries. The Eagles had 130 rushing yards on 24 carries.
-Penalties: The Colts had nine penalties for 85 yards on Saturday, including a holding penalty which negated an 81-yard touchdown run by Robert Turbin.
-Turnovers: Miscommunication between Scott Tolzien and Donte Moncrief led to an end-zone interception on the first drive of the third quarter.
-Health: Although Pagano said the injuries are no excuse, the reality is the Colts have been hit square in the face with them this month. OG-Jack Mewhort (knee) and CB-Darius Butler (ankle) were added to the bevy of injuries on Saturday night. In total, the Colts had seven expected Week One defensive starters not on the field versus the Eagles.
Pagano admitted on Saturday night that he does not have a great idea of what this 2016 bunch will look like when things get real in two weeks.
"I would be lying to you if I said that I know what we are capable of," Pagano said after the Colts fell to 1-2 on the preseason, going into Thursday's preseason finale. "But I think you guys know from a talent standpoint what they are capable of."
The next time fans should expect to see the starters is Week One of the regular season.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, the Detroit Lions will be on the visiting sideline at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the days of dress rehearsals will be history.
Questions remain for the Colts.
Roster cuts are looming.
And with this team going from 90 players to 53 in less than a week, many of those answers lie in the Training Room, before the wins and losses actually matter.
"There are a lot of guys that are getting close," Pagano said about the dozen or so guys who missed Saturday night.
"They need to get close, really close in a hurry, like tonight or tomorrow and the next day. When we hit the field Monday, hopefully we can get the majority of those guys back."