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Andrew Luck's absence isn't the only thing holding back Colts' offense

INDIANAPOLIS -- The defense ahead of the offense?

That’s an idea that was unheard of for nearly the past 20 years inside the Indianapolis Colts organization while Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck were on the field. But that’s where things sit with the Colts as life without Luck continues for them.

Despite having 10 straight games with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, the Colts lack both an identity and consistent players on offense. An argument could be made the offense has regressed in recent weeks after looking like it was coming along. The issue has been in the second half of games.

The Colts have found a way to get away with their flaws in the first half of many of their games. It’s in the second half when their opponents have made adjustments and figured out ways to stop them.

After Sunday's 20-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Colts have lost five games in which they have led in the fourth quarter this season. They’ve lost six games when they’ve led in the second half.

“I don’t have a word for it,” Colts tight end Jack Doyle said. “It’s tough. Just stinks.”

The Colts are ranked 31st in the NFL in second-half total offense (135.2) and points (6.7) and they’re dead last in the league in red zone efficiency over the final 30 minutes of the game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In the first half, they’re 20th in yards and red zone efficiency and 17th in points.

Indianapolis, which is 3-8, has been outscored 182-71 in the second half of games this season.

Brissett isn’t running away from the possibility he's a culprit.

“Just focusing towards the end of the game and just taking care of our job, just staying on course with what we’ve been doing the whole game,” Brissett said. “We kind of get away from ourselves a little bit. We panic, but I’ve got to do a better job of calming everybody down.”

Brissett also has to make quicker decisions with the ball because too often he’s holding it too long, which in turn leads to a higher number of sacks. You can argue that half of Tennessee’s eight sacks on Sunday were due to Brissett’s poor decision-making.

“You understand, as a quarterback, I’ve got to be able to step up and be that leader,” Brissett said.

The easy response would be to say that things will be back to normal for the Colts once Luck returns next season. It’s not that simple for them anymore. Not only does Luck need to get back from his shoulder injury, the Colts need better talent around him because they can’t rely on him to carry the franchise.

So much emphasis has been put on general manager Chris Ballard’s desire to improve the team’s defense that the offense, minus the offensive line, has been overlooked in this process when the reality is that group needs some improvement too.

The smart teams are taking receiver T.Y. Hilton out of the game, leaving the mixture of Donte Moncrief, Chester Rogers and Kamar Aiken to pick up the slack at receiver. There’s been more failure than success out of those three. Flashes won’t cut it. Consistency is what’s needed. Doyle was the only player to have more than three receptions against the Titans.

The same can be said about the Colts on the ground. They have constantly struggled to establish a running game. It won't be surprising if finding some running backs, especially with Frank Gore being 34 years old, is also on Ballard's offseason to-do list.