Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/23/11
 2011 started much the way most of their years have: with a disappointing January playoff loss. Unlike previous years, the team was not able to bounce back. The Indianapolis Colts, perennial playoff contenders for the past decade, have endured their most tumultuous year in quite some time. Why? These 5 stories tell the reason.

Colts lose to Jets in Playoffs- One year after beating the New York Jets to make it to the Super Bowl, The Colts squared off against the Jets again. This time, Rex Ryan’s group kept Peyton Manning and company in check. The two teams waged a tough defensive battle until the end. Nick Folks 32 yard field goal as time expired sealed the deal. The Jets won 17-16.

Peyton Manning neck surgery- In May, Manning had surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck and was expected to back in time for the regular season. Instead, he had to have another surgery in September which effectively ended his and the Colts’ season.

Colts left unprepared- Prior to this season, Manning had started 227 consecutive games at quarterback for the Colts. As a result, the team never invested much into the backup position. When it became obvious the team would be without Manning’s services for most of the year, the team turned to Kerry Collins. Collins had recently retired but the Colts lured him out of retirement with a 4 million dollar contract. How did he do? In three games he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, never passed for more than 200 yards and fumbled the ball away three times. He was eventually placed on injured reserve with a concussion. Curtis Painter, Collins’ replacement didn’t fare much better.  In 8 starts, he threw 6 touchdowns vs. 9 interceptions.

No one else steps up- Football is often referred to as the ultimate team sport. The Colts proved that may not be entirely true. How else does one explain the fact the Colts opened the season on a thirteen game losing streak. The Colts were expected to struggle without Manning but most figured the team would be competitive with the likes Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney on the team. All are former Pro Bowlers. Clark’s lack of production can be attributed to injury and some might argue Wayne was hampered by the weakened play at quarterback. However, the team’s defensive stars have no such excuse. The Colt’s defense has never been prolific, but they have been opportunistic. However, they spent most of 2011 getting dragged up and down the field. As a result, they currently rank near the bottom in most statistical defensive categories.

Colts muck chance at luck?- Sitting at 0-13 it appeared the Colts were destined to lock up the number one draft choice in the 2012 draft. Most experts believe Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be taken first overall and that he could be the answer to the Colts’ Quarterback issues for the next decade. Then a strange thing happened. The Colts have gone on a two game win streak with Dan Orlovsky under center. The Colts now sit at 2-13, one win away from escaping the NFL cellar. However, if the team loses next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, they would be assured the number one pick. Would the team win by losing?  
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