Brett Mock breaks down the heavily discussed quarterback quandary that now faces the Indianapolis Colts.
Prior to launching Colts Authority, I took the time to break down some of the issues that will face the Colts in the coming off-season as the team prepares for the 2012 NFL season. New developments, such as the firing of Bill and Chris Polian and hiring of new General Manager Ryan Grigson have occurred that make the stories worthy of re-publication and revision. We hope you will enjoy the series as the 2011 season moves closer to its conclusion.
For Indianapolis Colts fans, the 2011 season started on its head. Fans and experts all around the league were so unconcerned about Manning missing a start or meaningful game-time due to injury that the only conversation was really about whether or not he would play long enough to surpass Favre's consecutive games record. When Manning had neck surgery over the summer, few were really concerned that he wouldn't return to the field in time for the start of the season.
As preseason reached Week 3 and Manning still had not spent meaningful time in pactice, though, fan confidence rattled. When it was announced the Manning was undergoing spinal fusion surgery and that the team signed retired veteran Kerry Collins, most expected that Collins would be the best quarterback on the roster -- even with such little time to prepare for the regular season. Instead, Collins played horribly and Curtis Painter was thrust into the starting role. Props to Reggie Wayne for calling it all from the start.
Fast forward to today. It is clear that it was a mistake to sign Kerry Collins. It is also fair to speculate about how the team's record might be different if the Colts stuck with Dan Orlovsky, instead of Curtis Painter, at the start of the season. There are legitimate reasons to believe that the Collins' "concussion" was really an effort to save the veteran from embarrassment -- and possibly the since-departed front office as well.
Of course, the back story of the 2011 quarterback quandary is growing less relevant to the team's future. Now, the issue surrounds whether or not Manning will return healthy and capable of competing at an MVP level.
If the team feels he can play at an elite level for the duration of his five-year contract, what other decisions will be made as the draft approaches? Some suggest that the best option is to take Andrew Luck. Others say that keeping Manning with confidence that he will compete for another four years at an MVP level makes using the team's first selection on a quarterback as touted as Luck, only to sit him for four years, makes no sense.
Will there be another "Luck" by the time Manning's career comes to a close? One quarterback who is the recipient of a great deal of hype is Gunner Kiel, the top high school quarterback entering the NCAA -- who has committed to Notre Dame, which is just up the road from Indianapolis. Kiel could be ready to enter the draft in three or four years and may give Indianapolis a shot to grab a superstar down the road. Or... he could not pan out and fail to live up to the hype that surrounds him now -- or if he's as good as advertised and the Colts are successful with Manning, the team could miss out on the pick due to low draft positioning.
Financially, it is very difficult to justify carrying Manning's large contract and paying top pick money for his successor. Orlovsky would be a far more cost-effective option at backup quarterback, and it would allow the team to address other positions that are beginning to deal with age concerns.
The Colts front office will be forced choose the team's long-term fate when the 2011 season ends. If Andrew Luck is in the Colts plans, the only thing that makes any sense is to cut Manning -- using the one-year exit clause written into the contract to free up the remainder of the money. Doing so will very likely weaken the team's chances to get back to the Super Bowl in the next two or three years -- meaning veterans like Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, and Dwight Freeney could have the bulk of their remaining years as elite players squandered.
If the team chooses to stick with Manning, trading out of the top pick is the only thing that makes sense -- assuming there will be teams interested (there will be). Players like wide receiver Justin Blackmon, cornerback Morris Claiborne, or defensive end Quinton Coples would be huge talent infusions to the 2012 roster and they could be available as late as picks 5-10.
For the first time since Peyton Manning joined the team in 1998 Indianapolis has an uncertain future at the most important offensive position in football. How the team navigates through this dilemma will significantly alter the face of the team, the sports culture Indianapolis, and will likely change Manning's lasting legacy in NFL history books.
No pressure Mr. Grigson or Mr. Irsay. No pressure at all.
I woke up today and had an epiphany. The solution to this whole QB dilemma.......Tim Tebow. That's right Tim F-ing Tebow. Here me out now. With the questions surrounding Peytons health, Tim Tebow coming to the Colts. makes perfect sense. It's a 2 for 1 deal. You get Tim Tebow, who will happily sit behind Peyton for his remaining years. He may even learn how to throw a football. But you don't just bring in Tebow, you also get his main man JC. Now, with Jesus locked up under contract for the next 4 years it is a virtual certainty that Manning stays healthy, as His healing powers are well documented. Even with a team devoid of talent, a healthy Peyton Manning assures the Colts regular season success. And with Tebow and JC on the sideline for the playoffs, well let's just say a little divine intervention never hurt anyone. I could easily see the Colts winning the next 4 Superbowls under this senario. Are you reading this Mr. Irsay!
1) the odds of manning playing for 4 more years is very slim
2) the odds of manning every playing again arent great
3) you dont pass on a franchise qb. period. luck is a franchise qb
4) orlovsky sucks
5) trading the pick makes zero sense when we need a qb.
6) wayne wont be retained
The one thing I don't understand regarding the thought that the Colts could just get the next "once in a generation QB" a few years from now is the assumption seems to be that it's easy to land the #1 overall pick. It isn't. If the team will be built in the future like the Ravens where not a ton is asked from the QB and it's defense as the priority then maybe the team can find a serviceable QB a few years from now. But if they want a QB that could be the next one up there with Rodgers, Brady and close to what Peyton is then passing on Luck is probably passing on the best opportunity to grab one as pardon the pun, it takes a whole lot of luck to go with bad play to get that #1 overall pick.
Mr. Irsay continues to reference 1998, but with all due respect, this is nothing like 1998.
In '98 Irsay brought in a GM who already had a HOF resume, not a young director of Player Personnel with no GM experience.
An established NFL Head Coach was brought in immediately, didn't hang on to the old coach for a couple of weeks, and then go on a search for "Leadership" amongst the 600 people coaching in the NFL.
A young QB was brought in to replace a QB who, while very popular and pretty darn good, was no where near the G.O.A.T.
Nobody really knows how this all will turn out for our Indianapolis Colts, but the odds are likely against them becoming as successful, as quickly, as they did after 1998.
@omahacolt Since you state #3 with such unbridaled certainty, I can only assume that you can see the future. And since the only person in the world that I would even entertain the notion that they can see the future lives in Omaha... you must be Warren Buffet.
Had no idea you were a Colts fan.
@JohnGibson The other side to this is just because they take a QB with the #1 pick does not mean he is "once in a generation" or even any good. A lot of people are operating under the assumption that this is the Colts only chance to get a good QB because this may be the only time they draft this high in the near future. That is simply not true. I am still of the opinion that - even if Manning is not healthy and cannot play - that the Colts should trade the pick, provided they can get what "experts" say they can. Either get a QB later in this years draft (round 2 or 3) and pick up a retread or backup from another team.
@JohnGibson You've hit the nail on the head here.
@LeviFuller@JohnGibson Drafting a QB with the first pick might give you the best shot at drafting an elite talent there, but it´s not the only way to accomplish it either, and it seriously irks me when it is implied. Talking about Gunner Kiel as if it was realistic is way offbase; no one knows who great QB prospects in college will be 2 years before, let alone 4 years before (remember the crazed Jake Locker sweepstakes?). Wanting to draft Luck under that best-shot rationale is defendable, but it´s not the only thing that makes sense, especially given the talent it´s costing you at other positions considering you´re declining to bring in a bevy of picks. And as LeviFuller says, there is always a possibility that that special QB won´t be all that, or be an outright disappointment.