As a life long Colts fan, I feel like I am obligated to share my thoughts on Peyton Manning officially becoming a Denver Bronco this week.
It’s impossible to be a Colts fan and not feel weird about seeing the official unveiling of his number 18 Manning jersey at their press conference. He’s only had one NFL team throughout his great career and, be honest, you probably thought years ago that he’d only wear Indy blue.
Last season was a giant wakeup call for the Colts. Not only did they prove that they were completely unprepared to have Manning go down with injury, they showed how great Manning really is. The number of weapons the Colts had offensively were a direct product of Manning’s ability. How many great plays did Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and the rest of the offensive skill position players make in the 2011 season? They were few and far between for sure.
I actually argued that if it weren’t for games played restrictions, Peyton Manning should have been the MVP of the 2011 season. I’m also dead serious about that. If the criteria is most valuable to your team, there’s no doubt Manning was.
I’ve had so many great memories watching Manning over the years, many games in person during our season ticket years. However, I agreed with Colts owner Jim Irsay when he said it was time to move on.
We know that Manning can play, but with his multiple neck surgeries, can we be absolutely certain of that? He’s on the wrong side of age 35 and won’t get better. As a Colts fan, would you want your team’s quarterback to go down with injury and have another 2 win season? I sure don’t.
After said season, you would be in the exact same spot you are now. Except this time, your star quarterback is a year older and you’ve done nothing for your future again.
To assume the Colts make the playoffs with Manning in 2012 is ignorant at best. The Colts were very old and spiraling fast. I can only imagine the backlash from fans if Indy went 8-8 or even worse, under .500 WITH Manning.
Manning signed for 5 years in Denver. There is no chance he plays 5 more seasons in the NFL. Injuries will become more prevalent and age will take a bigger toll on his body.
A factor the Colts were forced to look at was the incredible top two quarterbacks available in the draft, Andrew Luck of Stanford, and Robert Griffin III of Baylor. It is almost poetic for Indianapolis really. It can be argued that these are the best one-two QB’s out of college since the 1998 draft which featured Manning and Ryan Leaf out of Washington State. Indy had a massive decision to make. Obviously we know the results of both, but the point is that there hasn’t been a set of quarterbacks like this since that draft.
Every NFL franchise covets that long-time franchise quarterback and the Colts have the opportunity to do that this year. Will they be successful in 2012? Probably not. Manning went 3-13 in his rookie season, just one win more than last year.
So it is time to regroup, rebuild, and give our future a look. Every franchise has to go through it and fans have to learn to deal with it. It’ll be tough going through a couple of bad seasons, but if you were following the Indianapolis Colts prior to 1998, you’re used to it. The rewards will come in a few years, you’ll see. It might be even tougher watching the Broncos make a deep playoff run this year and next, but we’ll get over it.