Tough early schedule means Colts must find their footing fast

Colts coach Frank Reich on a tough opening schedule for his team: "As a coach you do break it down as far as quarters, and then obviously your goal for every quarter is go 3-1." Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL season is only a week old and there's still 15 games to play.

But for the Indianapolis Colts, a loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday -- on the road and in potentially a lot of rain -- could leave a lot of people wondering: When will the Colts get their first victory?

They squandered their first chance at a win when they were outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter of their 34-23 Week 1 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

"This is a brutal league and the losses are tough, especially the first one of the year, because you put so much into it," coach Frank Reich said. "But at the end of the day, we line up and half the teams in the league are in our same situation and we get ready to fire it up next week."

Starting 0-2 is nothing new to the Colts. They've done it in each of the past four years. That's why there's not an ounce of concern hovering inside the Colts locker room. At the same time, though, they've known what their schedule looks like to open the season since it came out nearly five months ago.

Five of the first eight games are on the road for a team that went 1-7 away from home last season.

"The schedule is the way it is," linebacker Najee Goode said. "You have to find a way to get them. The main thing is when you win away and you come back home, it makes everything that much smoother. And the stretch we play the first month of away games, it builds momentum. When you're playing at home you get comfortable, you can get up ... get in a certain type of rhythm. Away games put you in your own mindset, puts you up against everybody else."

Reich breaks the 16-game schedule into four quarters. The goal in each quarter is to go at least 3-1, but going 3-1 in the first quarter or 6-2 in the first half won't be an easy feat for a team that started five rookies in Week 1. After playing in Washington (1-0), the Colts stay on the road and play Philadelphia (1-0), the defending Super Bowl champions, before returning home to face Houston (0-1).

"It's always by quarters, it's always by quarters," Reich said. "I mean, well it's game-by-game. You break it down, right? The goal is to go 1-0 every week. That's every team's overriding philosophy and certainly ours, go 1-0. I mean, really nothing else matters, go 1-0. As a coach you do break it down as far as quarters, and then obviously your goal for every quarter is go 3-1. We are playing to win. Obviously you hope to go 4-0 in every quarter, but this is the NFL."

The second quarter of the season won't be an easy task, either, as the Colts travel to New England (1-0) on a short week to face the Patriots in Week 5 at Gillette Stadium for the first time since the 2014 AFC Championship Game. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck is 0-5 against the Patriots. That's followed by another road game at the New York Jets (1-0), a home game against Buffalo (0-1) and, yep, a road game out West in Oakland (0-1).

"A lot of places I've been have talked about the four quarters of the year, but as a player it's most beneficial to look at week in and week out," offensive lineman Matt Slauson said. "We have to move on now, get onto Washington now and after that game is over, get onto the next. You can't afford look back or look ahead. You have to reset everything every week. That gives you a chance."