Man, it is hard to describe how it feels to be a fan of the Colts going forward. Indy fans haven’t had to experience a season like this in 10 years and for many of us younger fans we don’t really remember the lean years all that well.
This is new territory for a lot of Colts fans that found their way to the nation in the post 1998 era. The pulse of the fans on this season appear to be in two different camps that aren’t necessarily clear cut from each other. The fan confidence waters are indeed murky.
As we sit here at the end of the season looking back at the last full year many of us are not only bothered by the results but disgusted. How can such a proclaimed talented team drop 14 games on the season? Where is all that talent? As many writers have covered how this season could happen if they were not “that bad” it is still hard to stomach. Now Colts fans will see fan favorites and lifetime Colts likely leave because of money and age. Going forward it is hard to find a sense of optimism in all of the doom and gloom. However, the Colts did show some sparks for the eternal optimists as well.
Donald Brown looked a lot more like an anti-bust than he did in his first two years. He performed so well this season that you can no longer call that pick a bust. Was it the greatest draft pick in the world? No. But Damn it Donald actually has some pretty good NFL value. At worst that first pick goes down as a C+ selection. Pat Angerer in the second round looks to be an A selection in his second year in the league. With some improved coverage skills over the next season the Colts essentially have their young Gary Brackett back for the next four years. On the other end Jerry Hughes still looked lost and Anthony Castonzo, though showing promise never really delivered on the whole after his hot start to the season. Add in nagging injuries from Nevis and Ijalana plus fumbleitis from Carter and the knee-jerk excitement for the 2011 draft has lost a bit of its shimmer.
Despite the struggles this season, the Colts showed some good stuff in the last three weeks, especially on defense. It looks like there is a good chance the Colts already have their defensive coordinator next season in Mike Murphy and he’s showed there is a foundation to build on. If not for this last loss leaving a bad taste in my mouth I would say I am completely looking forward for 2012 to start already. Bring back a QB and this team is competitive. So in that aspect fan confidence is higher.
On the other end of the spectrum, it is hard to feel super confident going into the offseason without Bill Polian at the helm. I understand that Chris Polian was likely taking the driver’s seat in the front office operations but it still was not too difficult to imagine success as long as Bill Polian was around. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that the Colts might be up a creek without specific key propulsion instruments. There is a whole other front office process now that is on the Colts docket. They now have to find a new GM to go with a coaching staff overhaul.
This was a draft that the Colts will absolutely have to get right and the last thing their focus is on a week after the season has ended is getting the draft right. I have no confidence in Jim Irsay as an individual making any judgment calls on personnel. We have seen through the years that he is loyal to a fault and that could carry over to 2012 and the draft if the GM spot isn’t filled soon. What should have been a straight forward off season has been turned into a tailspin because of what is essentially a PR move by the owner to sack a Hall of Fame general manager. Because of that, despite some of the previously named positives the current front office situation has fans everywhere concerned for the future. The future has the potential to be bright but plenty of franchises have failed to capitalize in similar situations. It isn’t so certain that this Indianapolis Colts one is different.
Nicely put. As a fan who dates back to the days when a flat-topped boot-wearing guy called the signals, I have more reasons for optimism now than I did in 1982, for example, or the early 90s. So to cheer people up, here's a few reasons:
In the past handful of years when we were without a first round draft choice (twice I think) and picked in the late 20s, we had one pick in the first roughly 85 selections. Hard to add a lot of young quality that way. This year we currenlty have two in the top 33, or if we do some down-trading, that could be four in the top 45 (or an extra 1st or 2nd next year as well). Yes, there are no sure things, but this is good news for the future.
We may well have a fully healthy Manning back (11 wins) or a diminished 18 back (9 wins). That'll be okay.
We may well end up with the next Manning--that's okay with me as well.
A new DC--great news. New STC--great news. Another year of seasoning for the bookend OTs? Super. Collie's head is not made of chalk--creat news. Yes, there are many negatives--some aging stars we'll miss, uncertainty. But 20 and 30 years ago, there were more problems.
Personally, I dont think this was EVER going to be a straightforward off season. Even with a Polian, drafting 1/1 is fraught with peril, the call on Manning is gonna be done with lots of crossed fingers and toes, shamrocks and rabbits feet. The decision whether to go for continuity of scheme/coaching styles to take advantage of existing personnel or to be scheme agnostic in new hires alone is a scary decision with wide ranging ramifications.