It has been an offseason of high drama and constant change for the Colts. Nearly every day, the team has been in the national headlines, typically because of some hint of a rumor that Peyton Manning tossed his car keys to his wife “with good velocity”, or because Jim Irsay tweeted, “Sad, but true, do what you gotta do. Scooby Scooby do.”
Meanwhile, Irsay has so completely overhauled the front office and coaching staff that philosophically the team is completely unrecognizable. The combination of immovable object (March 8th deadline for Manning’s option to be exercised) and the irresistible force (Manning’s unparalleled, even insane desire to compete and dominate) have left the rest of the Colts roster in stasis.
The suspended animation of the Colts franchise has lead to no end of jibber-jabbering from every possible angle. Never has there been so much to talk about. Never has it mattered so little.
Peyton is going to go.
The Colts are going to draft Luck.
All the rest is noise.
The Colts’ true situation is fairly simple, yet impossible to analyze. This team has entered full rebuild mode. New coach + new GM typically means a complete tabula rasa for a franchise. Within in two years there will be precious little to recognize with the Colts roster. Right now, it’s impossible to speculate about any draft picks because the Colts need everything. Even potentially good players like Angerer and Nevis may be shuttled aside as scheme changes could make them square pegs in round holes.
The team isn’t going to be competitive in 2012, that much is a given. Talent wise, the roster will likely be purged of players like Saturday, Mathis, Brackett, Wayne, etcetera etcetera. The 2012 Colts, with the exception of the quarterback position, will be worse than the 2011 Colts. So there’s no real reason to worry about the upcoming season. If the team wins even 5 games it will be a massive surprise.
Because of that, new head coach Chuck Pagano is really under no pressure to fully install any one system. He can’t turn over the whole defensive roster in one offseason, so while you can be sure the team will draft players that fit his vision, it matters very little what that vision looks like in 2012. Any roster or scheme analysis for next season is perfunctory. The team won’t win, and whatever we witness will be just one phase in the evolution of the roster, so it’s not even all that useful to discuss the ins and outs of it for 2012.
One season is an eternity in the NFL, and two is an eon. The only issue that matters for the future of the Colts beyond 2012 is the development of Andrew Luck. Literally nothing else matters. Oh, it matters who the Colts take in later rounds of the upcoming draft, but none of us have any solid data to work with. We don’t know what Grigson likes. We don’t know who fits Pagano’s vision. We don’t know their trends. We don’t even know if they’ll be any good at drafting. Talking about the Colts draft is an exercise in futility. We can talk about what players are good, but we don’t really know who will fit what the Colts want to do, because we don’t know what the Colts want to do.
No. one. knows. anything.
I suppose could wring my hands over the totally artificial Luck versus RG3 debate. Of course, the vast majority of the NFL already knows the answer to this question, so any debate is purely for show. I’m sure the Colts will say lots of nice things about RG3. After all, they’d be crazy not to use him as leverage in contract talks with Luck. They can always try and engineer some crazy trade, but I can’t see that happening. Luck is as close to a Manning clone as it comes without actually being sired by Archie and Olivia. He’s the natural successor. He’s a slam dunk safe pick, and for a rookie GM (without a lot of juice), taking Luck is too much of a gift to pass up.
Oh, and then there’s Peyton. Everyone wants to read another article about that! Sigh. We get it. He’s trying to play. No one knows if he can. The Colts can’t pay $28 million on March 8. End of story.
Irsay will try to get him to come back for less. Manning will decide to do what he wants to do. For all the controversy surrounding where Peyton is health-wise, the one thing that absolutely no one disputes is that the Colts cannot pay him the $28 million bonus. They can’t afford it. He’s not close enough/certain enough to be able to play to make that a viable option. Now, if he decides to come back for less, then we can have lots of long, interesting conversations, but until then all the rest is just talk.
So the one singular issue truly facing the Colts is Andrew Luck. If he’s the next Hall of Fame quarterback, the Colts will be very good much much more quickly than some in the media seem to realize. If he’s more in the Eli range (perennial top 10, occasionally top 5) guy, then the team will be competitive eventually, though maybe not in 2013. If he’s anything less than Eli, then the team will languish in the lower middle-class of the NFL. Of course, there’s no good way to project that. Luck looks like he’ll translate instantly to the NFL game. But no one knows.
We’re just guessing.
It’s why I find this offseason tedious and boring.
So much to talk about.
So little to say.