Worse than Expected: The 1993 Indianapolis Colts

Colts Bag HEad

While scrolling through some old Wikipedia pages of football teams along with a few ProFootballReference.com pages of the same nature, you’ll come across some things. Warren Moon and Earl Campbell were on the same team for a single season,  and went 3-13. The Rams once had three safeties in one quarter, and the Colts stunk for a while, particularly in 1997, 1998, 1986 and *gag* 1991. But delving slightly deeper, you can find one season that nobody seems to remember, but was one of the worst statistically for the team during their fourteen-year stretch of incompetence, bizarre injuries and bad luck. That year is 1993.

This isn’t an article for the “Worst Teams of All Time”, but consider it an honorable mention.

The 1993 Colts’ record (4-12) won’t make you double-take, but their numbers will. They played three games that ended in scores of 9-6, and went 3-0 in those games. The team scored only 8 more points than the 1-15 1990 Patriots. The team also ranked last in defensive yardage given up, first downs allowed and rushing yards allowed. Despite the record, this team reeked. Their W-L projection sits at 2.6-13.4.

Jeff George - Indianapolis Colts - File Photos

We need to start with the quarterback situation. The Colts had three quarterbacks on their roster: Jeff George, Jack Trudeau and Don Majkowski. Only one of them (George) finished with a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio, but it was a close shave. George completed 57.5% of his passes for 2,526 yards, only 8 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. Surprisingly, these numbers were put up using the Run ‘n Shoot scheme, an offensive playbook that typically allowed quarterbacks to pass for gaudy numbers and score tons of points. The former No.1 overall draft choice averaged less than 200 passing yards a game, finished with a rating of 76.3 and averaged only 10.8 yards-per-completion.

Jack Trudeau

Although Jack Trudeau was slightly better than a two-game stretch that occurred once in his career in which his quarterback rating stood at 15.0, Trudeau was by far the worst quarterback on the team. The Illinois grad completed a total of only 85 passes across five miserable starts, throwing for 992 yards, 2 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Trudeau starred in the team’s lone impressive win over Cleveland, but was awful in one of the team’s 9-6 squeakers over Cincinnati.

In a riveting game that starred a 4-12 team and a 3-13 team, the Colts won off of three Dean Biasucci field goals. Trudeau was 17 of 36 for 218 yards and two interceptions on the day, while his Cincinnati counterpart, David Klingler, went 16 of 37 for 146 yards and an interception.

Don Majkowski Colts

And finally, Don Majkowski rounds out the quarterbacks. A one-hit wonder in 1989, Majkowski didn’t start a game for the Colts but went 13 of 24 for 105 yards and an interception in three relief appearances.

Roosevelt Potts

Eric Dickerson was now gone, so Roosevelt Potts (great name) finished as the team’s leading rusher. He carried the ball 179 times for 711 yards for 0 touchdowns, and a fair yards-per-carry average of 4.0. He also caught 26 passes for 189 yards and no touchdowns. The problem here was turnovers, as Potts fumbled 8 times, leading the team in the category. Other guys in the rushing category are Anthony Johnson (95 carries, 331 yards, 1 touchdown, 5 fumbles), Rodney Culver (65 carries, 150 yards, 2.3 yards-per-carry average, 3 touchdowns, 3 fumbles), and the team’s punter, Ron Stark, who had a single carry for 11 yards.

In the receving category, Reggie “Foghorn” Langhorne actually had a good season. The former Brown caught 85 balls for 1,038 yards and 30% of the team’s passing touchdowns. After that, Jessie Hester (a crappy draft choice), caught 64 passes for 835 yards and 10% of the team’s passing touchdowns. After that, there’s a pretty big dropoff, as nobody on the team finished with more than 500 yards receiving. Other receivers who caught touchdowns include tight end Kerry Cash, Sean Dawkins, Rodney Culver and Clarence Verdin.

The offense sucked. There’s no sugarcoating it. They scored only 189 points, a total that ranked 27th/28th in the league, and scored only 14 offensive touchdowns, 10 of which were passing. If you total up their offensive touchdowns and fumbles, the fumbles outnumber the touchdowns by 20. How bad is that?

The team’s turnover differential finished as -14, and they ranked 27th/28th in passing touchdowns. They ranked last in rushing attempts and rushing yards, while ranking 26th in rushing touchdowns with only 4, and their 3.5 yards-per-carry as a team ranked 24th in the league. The team eclipsed 20 or more points only four times all season, while in half their games, they couldn’t even get past the 10 point mark. They were also shut out twice, by the Chargers and Patriots.

Don’t kid yourself, the defense slacked off as well. This wasn’t a silent offense ruining stark defensive efforts like the 1992 Seahawks, this was a namby-pamby offense taking the attention away from a sloppy, undisciplined defense. Apparently, the Colts were from “In-ianapolis”, because there was no D to be found with the Colts. They gave up the most yards in the league (5,638), the most first downs (334), and their 21 takeaways ranked 23rd in the league. The pass defense was relatively okay, ranking 12th in yards given up, but they ranked 21st in passing touchdowns allowed (22) and 25th in defensive interceptions (10). Their 6.6 yards-per-adjusted-attempt also ranked 25th. The team sacked opposing quarterbacks only 21 times.

The rushing defense was by far the league’s worst, permitting the most yards in the league (2,521) and the most attempts in the league (575). Their 20 rushing touchdowns allowed ranked 26th in the NFL, while their 4.4 yards-per-carry allowed was 24th. The team gave up 100 yards rushing to opposing teams fifteen times, holding only the 5-11 Patriots to fewer (they had 87). Curiously, the Patriots supplied the Colts with their best defensive rushing outing (Week 9) as well as their worst (Week 17). The defense gave up a season-high 257 rushing yards to the Pats in the late-season game, one they lost 38-0. The team allowed 200 rushing yards or more four times.

In all, this was a dreadful team that was a few missed field goals away from possibly finishing 2-14 or 1-15. Instead, they finished 4-12 and go under the radar for really terrible teams, a category they should be put in regardless of how they finished.

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