Ugly as it was, and ugly as it’s been, not everything about the Indianapolis Colts is entirely ugly.
For a change, they have a backup quarterback who can at least manage and, believe it or not, win a game.
That’s progress, right?
Well, maybe not.
Indy won with someone other than Andrew Luck behind center, but the aesthetic was still the same: Ugly.
For the second straight week, the Colts looked really bad against a really bad AFC South rival, and won. Better than the alternative, to be sure, but hardly the stuff Super Bowl seasons are made of.
But there is good news on the horizon.
Up next is another really bad AFC South rival, affording the Colts another chance to take command of a really bad division that a really bad team is going to ultimately win.
Right now, it looks like it still will be the Colts.
Which brings us back to the backup quarterback.
With the short turnaround heading into Thursday night’s game at Houston (1-3), there is a chance Luck will sit out again, although that doesn’t seem likely. But If he does, there is a reasonably good chance the Colts still can win.
Because if Matt Hasselbeck proved nothing else against Jacksonville, it’s that he isn’t Curtis Painter — which means the offense is automatically in better hands when the starter can’t play.
Though not dazzling or inspiring, Hasselbeck was reasonably efficient with the same offensive weapons at Luck’s disposal, behind the same offensive line that got Luck hurt. He completed 30 of 47 attempts for 282 yards and one touchdown, no interceptions, and made just enough plays for the Colts to win a game they could not afford to lose to have any hope of salvaging their season.
If the Colts have to turn to the 40-year-old Hasselbeck against the Texans, and if he operates the same way as he did against the Jaguars, there’s a reasonably good chance they’ll win and take a bold step toward assuring the playoffs.
That was the encouraging, albeit the only encouraging, component of Sunday’s OT win against Jacksonville.
The offensive line wasn’t properly addressed during the offseason, free-agent money was wasted on Andre Johnson, and the running game still isn’t on track, but the Colts do — for the first time since Earl Morrall — have a serviceable backup quarterback.
That’s something to celebrate, right?
Beyond that, there isn’t much to get excited about, even when Luck returns. The Colts released backup quarterback Josh Johnson on Monday, a possible indicator Hasselbeck will be back on the bench Thursday. But Luck’s availability is still unknown.
Either way, the Colts simply don’t have the horses to contend for any sort of championship apart from the AFC South. Until or unless there is a miracle fix for the offensive line, health issues could be a season-long concern for Luck, or for whoever starts when he’s hurt.
If you’ve watched more than one game, you’ve seen the same issues: The Colts can’t run, can’t protect the quarterback, can’t stop pedestrian offenses and can’t beat average teams (think Buffalo and the New York Jets). They haven’t played a really good team yet, and heaven help them when they do.
Maybe we haven’t seen ugly yet, after all.
Rick Morwick is sports editor for the Daily Journal in Johnson County, a sister paper of the Daily Reporter. Send comments to rtorres@greenfield reporter.com.