At the start of the season, most people had the Colts penciled under five wins, a rebuilding team with too many rookies and too little skill. No one expected Reggie Wayne to stick around, but when he decided to stay in Indy the general consensus was "I feel bad for him ... he should have just switched teams." Rebuilding teams are set up to burn out veterans; it's a chance for the owner to throw a plate of spaghetti at the wall just to see what sticks. Chances are, he turns around and says what everyone else sees:
"Now, it's garbage."
Expected to be a spoiler at best, the Indianapolis Colts of 2012 are far from garbage. They're set to win 9, maybe 10 games and pull into the AFC playoffs as a fifth seed (barring an AFC North takeover; regardless, three wins and the Colts clinch). Andrew Luck to TY Hilton became the story of the week, overshadowing Reggie Wayne's impressive record-setting day; none of this would have made sense in week one. Bob Kravitz puts it into words: this Luck-lead Colts team can't be considered a rebuilding group any more.
"Our guys just bought in, bought in totally, as early as OTAs," [Robert] Mathis said. "After 2-14, we were ready for a change. New attitude, new team, new everything. That rebuilding stuff, we're too old for that, even though we have a lot of young guys."
Even with this pressure, the Colts do hold the comeback story of the year: Chuck Pagano.
"When you play for a cause, you play together," interim coach Bruce Arians said. "It's all 53 guys for one common cause and that's to extend the season for Chuck. ... Chuck's illness has bonded our team and our coaching staff because we're going to do this for him."
It's smart drafting, a few lucky picks, or whatever you feel like calling it, but the Indianapolis Colts - far from perfect - are perfectly happy at 7-4. Us? We're perfectly happy to admit that, when it comes to rebuilding, they did too good a job.