Reggie Hayes has become one of the better writers covering the Colts. Hard to do when you're not in Indy, but he's earned my respect. His latest article is a headshaker however when he attempts to compare the Detroit Lions to the great Indianapolis Colts teams:
Like the Colts first built around Peyton Manning, the Lions have a young quarterback with a seemingly limitless future in Matthew Stafford. His numbers in this, the undisputed year of the quarterback (sans Peyton), were phenomenal: 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns. He's one of four quarterbacks in NFL history with 5,000 yards, joining Dan Marino and two other guys who did it this year in Brees and Brady.
I love your work Reggie, but comparing Stafford and Manning is like comparing Matt Ryan and Tom Brady or Cam Newton and Drew Brees. It's not even close despite what the rules-inflated passing numbers say.
I've made this comparison before. It's not so much about player vs. player, but in the order they built them. Cowboys did something similar too. They got the WR first (Irvin/Harrison/Johnson), then the defensive-minded coach came, the QB was the No. 1 overall pick, and then they all had a bad season and got another high pick. Cowboys would get Emmitt, Colts would get Edge, and the Lions have tried to get Best/Leshoure, but have had injuries at that positon.
Lions also went receiver right after Stafford, just like Colts did with Manning, though Pettigrew is a much better player than Jerome Pathon ever was. They took Titus Young in the 2nd this year to try to get that secondary receiver, like how the Colts were looking for their Reggie Wayne for Manning. Cowboys would take Alvin Harper and Jimmy Smith high in the draft in years 3 & 4 for Aikman.
You could even compare the pick of Tarik Glenn (1st round OT taken one year before QB) to Detroit's pick of Cherilus in 2008.
The pattern is very much there, but the Lions have a long way to go to capture the kind of success those teams had. But they have been following a similar blueprint.