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Expectations need to be tempered for young team


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After Week 1, here’s what we know about the Indianapolis Colts:

They are better than the Oakland Raiders (slightly).

They are not adept at protecting Andrew Luck.

They are mandated by their owner to play better in Week 2.

They are short-handed in the backfield.

They are hosting a considerably better opponent this week than last.

Only when the Week 2 dust clears might we have a clearer picture of how strong, or weak, the Colts truly are.

Last week simply didn’t reveal much.

On one hand, the Colts showed they are still masters of the fourth-quarter comeback.

On another, they showed vulnerability.

Winning was nice. But doing it in the fourth-quarter, against a perpetually rebuilding opponent, was unnerving.

But, hey, the result is what matters. It is the NFL, and the adage is true: There are no guarantees or gimmes. Any win is a good win.

Especially for a team that, its playoff pedigree notwithstanding, is still very much a work in progress. Or, dare we say, rebuilding.

Not wholesale, not basement to ceiling, not even first floor to second, but still — on a micro level — rebuilding.

You wouldn’t know it from the owner’s tweets (demanding perfection already), but the 2013 Colts are not the pre-2011 Colts. They are not a dynasty. They are not packed with Pro Bowlers.

They are not even the best team in the AFC South, let alone in the AFC.

But they are a good team. Should again be playoff team. If everything falls into place, could even be a contending team.

Yet they are not an automatic “win” team. And that’s important to keep in mind, whether Jim Irsay does or not.

True, he’s invested millions to upgrade the product. He’s to be commended for that. Expectations should be high.

But they also should be tempered by the reality there are going to be good weeks and bad weeks for a young team that is still finding its way. Experience isn’t exactly spilling over the roster.

Even Chuck Pagano, in what is truly his first full season as an NFL head coach, is still learning his craft.

Have we mentioned Vick Ballard?

He is (was) the Colts’ top running back. He is (was) in his second season — a season that is now over, thanks to an ACL tear suffered during Thursday’s practice.

So, as was the case last year, and is the case for just about everyone in the NFL, there is adversity to overcome. The Colts are no strangers to injuries and are no strangers to overcoming them.

Week 2 will provide a better glimpse of how much — or little — they’ve grown from last year’s remarkable 11-5 campaign. The Dolphins are a far-stiffer challenge than the Raiders and will apply far more pressure to Luck.

Exactly what kind of team are the Colts? We’re about to find out.

Just keep an eye on Twitter.

Rick Morwick is the sports editor of the Daily Journal. Send comments to rmorwick@dailyjournal.net.

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