The Happy Gilmore Theory for Colts’ Early Struggles, Come-from-Behind Wins

The good news is, they came from behind late after falling behind early, beating the Tennessee Titans on the road 30-27. The bad news is, they came from behind late after falling behind early…again. Which begs the question, why does this keep happening?


There are so many theories to why the Indianapolis Colts continue to find themselves in this predicament, why not one more?

The Happy Gilmore Theory…

In the movie, Happy Gilmore, Adam Sandler plays a failed hockey player who discovers on accident that he has the most powerful golf swing in history. He joins the P.G.A. tour to make just enough money to save his grandma’s foreclosed house. He continues to see himself as a hockey player, and rejects the notion that he is a golfer, despite the fact that he can’t skate, and despite the fact that his only success as a pro has come as a golfer.

A plot change here, a casting change there, and you have the 2013 Indianapolis Colts. It has been a season defined by early deficits and come-from-behind victories—that and a lot of head-scratching.


Like Gilmore, the Colts—and by “Colts” I mean Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton—cling to this foolhardy notion about what they are. They like to think they are a physical, run-the-ball-right-at-you team, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary.


They waste downs on predictable run plays that, more often than not, are bound for nowhere. They love short, dinky-dunky passes and quick screens, and they apparently love digging their way out of 3rd-and-7, 3rd-and-long, 3rd-and-not-gonna-happen. To their credit, they have engineered a very successful formula for 3-and-out.

It’s not until they’ve dug themselves into an almost insurmountable hole that reality takes over, and they begin playing to their strengths, which is Luck and the passing game. You see, it’s not that the Colts can’t run the ball; its that teams need to respect the pass before the run will come close to working.


Oh, and they need to realize the Donald Brown style of running is what works. Give Trent Richardson credit for trying. I don’t think anyone questions his effort. But after 127 attempts and a 3.0 yard-per-carry average to Brown’s 5.9, it is clear that something isn’t working right.

What they’re doing wrong is debatable. What they’re doing right is not–i.e., putting the ball into Luck’s hands and then letting the run game feed off that.

How is it that these professionals, who get paid millions to put the team in the best position to win, don’t see this? It reminds me of when the Colts refused to see that Rob Morris was not the answer at middle linebacker for all those years.

Maybe the season will have a Happy Gilmore ending. Maybe the Colts, like Gilmore, will finally accept that they aren’t who they thought they were, and get on with the business of playing to their strengths. That would make all of us, well, happy.