Brett Mock discusses the future implications of decisions facing the Indianapolis Colts and owner Jim Irsay on the first day of the Indy's 2012 off-season.
When the Indianapolis Colts fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, only one question was answered -- we know for sure that Indianapolis has secured the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Now, the season long buildup of speculation that dominated national and local media -- along with the Colts community itself -- regarding the team's future could begin to die down as Jim Irsay's actions take away the mystery.
How quickly can fans expect to see action? It became clear that moves would be quickly forthcoming when Phil B. of the Indy Star reported that Irsay already had a meeting planned with Bill and Chris Polian and head coach Jim Caldwell last night. One does not call such a meeting after a road game unless he intends to get down to business.
Shortly following Phil B.'s report, Jake Query of 1260 WNDE shared that he received a tip that head coach Jim Caldwell has already been let go. Unsurprisingly, he also mentioned that one Colts player did not know anything about it.
If Query's tip is correct, one has to believe that Jim Irsay and/or the Polians already have their eye on a coaching candidate and intend to get that candidate in Indianapolis soon. It makes little sense to allow the team to sit without a head coach for an extended period of time, and to fire the current head coach if there are not candidates available who have expressed interest in the position if an opening materializes.
Whoever the Colts choose for the head coaching position will likely indicate what direction the team is planning to take as it prepares for 2012. A coach with ties to the Polians will likely indicate that the Tampa-2 defense will remain and that much of the remaining coaching staff will stay intact. A coach without such ties could indicate that schematic overhauls and more widespread coaching changes could be in store as the team moves forward.
Although purely speculation, a signing that does not indicate widespread coaching and schematic changes logically corresponds with a greater likelihood that the team plans to stick with Manning as the starter -- while widespread coaching staff and schematic changes significantly increase the likelihood that Irsay intends to rebuild with a new star under center. The coaching choice could also significantly affect the likelihood that veteran players like wide receiver Reggie Wayne and defensive end Robert Mathis will return to the Colts.
Another step in the process of determining the future is Peyton Manning's imminent year-end physical. If he fails the physical -- he will -- as has already been suggested by Vice Chairman Bill Polian, he will quickly get to work with a lot of one-on-one attention from the entire team medical staff. There is no more significant factor in modifying Jim Irsay and the Polians actions prior to the April's draft than confidence regarding Manning's short- and long-term health.
Keep in mind that the speed of the actions from the front office may also indicate a lot of things. Quick decisions to re-sign veteran players will make a Manning return much more likely -- it will also indicate how much the team knows about Manning's health and how confident the team is based upon current information that he will return to MVP form to finish his career. Delayed decisions will indicate uncertainty in Manning's future, and leave the Colts community and team in limbo.
No team's actions will be more closely monitored and scrutinized than the Indianapolis Colts in the 2012 off-season. Grab some sunglasses, the spotlight isn't going anywhere for awhile.