The Blame Game

For today, I was planning on another Notes and Quotes to start the day: hear from the players how their feeling, and add some notes from Sunday's game.

Instead, I've decided to push Notes and Quotes back, and wait for further game analysis until I get the game tape. The reason for this is because as I scan the web for Colts news, watch my Twitter feed go by, and talk to Colts fans from all over the country, I've noticed something very unsettling.

Now, this isn't something that is unexpected, I mean, I knew it would happen eventually, and right after a loss to the Cleveland Browns is an opportune time. Still, I had more faith in Colts fans than this. I knew that the Colts have a large bandwagon following; being one of the most successful teams in NFL history, with arguably its greatest quarterback, will do that to you. I knew that when hard times came, this would happen. I just didn't know that it would be this soon.

What is happening? What is going on that pains me so much? Colts fans are panicking.

After two games (pitiful as they may have been) in the NFL season, Colts fans are panicking. Now, panicking in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. If people were just upset and began to worry that the Colts were going to lose every game this season, I would be ok with that.

As fans, we are unreasonable. We have our homer glasses on when the team is winning, only seeing the good. We overreact to a loss, overreact to a free agent signing, overreact to a big win. It's impossible to ask a fan to be completely logical at all times. If you were, you would be a follower, not a fan.

I don't blame fans for panicking. I do blame fans for losing all sense of intelligence along with their panicking. Panicking is fine if you don't do something stupid because of it. Unfortunately, the stupidity I have seen over the last two days is painful to watch.

Led by a few misguided analysts and their own fear of being a fan of a losing team, droves of Colts fans have fallen into a despicable trap. It's called the blame game. Colts fans have turned from supporting the team when it needs them most, to blaming everyone inside the organization for everything and anything that may go wrong this season.

In reality, the Colts run had to end, or at least be interrupted, eventually. The last 12 years has been one of the most successful runs by an NFL team in history. I realize that it's hard to see for many fans, simply because they are used to winning. Nevertheless, history doesn't lie.

There are only a handful of teams that have managed to even come close to the continuous success the Colts have managed over the last 12 years. Pittsburgh, Dallas, Green Bay, San Fransisco, and New England (Philadelphia as an honorable mention). Guess what all of those teams have in common? They've all missed the playoffs at least twice since 2002.

Guess who hasn't missed in that time. Only 12 teams make the playoffs. Generally only four to six of those teams are legitimate title contenders. The Colts have been in both of those categories for the better part of 12 years. They were bound to have bad season eventually.

Now that one has come along (and only because of a freak injury to the central cog of the team) fans have decided to lose it. It's the sign of an elitist, self-entitled, bandwagon fan with no sense of perspective. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if the Colts were the worst team in the league in 2011.

But does one terrible season mean that the Colts front office should be completely replaced? How many other teams can say their front office has been as successful as the Colts? New England, Pittsburgh, maybe Green Bay? Who would Colts fans rather see running this team? I've lived in Arizona and Michigan for extensive periods of time.

You want to see a front office/owner that runs their team into the ground? Check out what Matt Millen did to Detroit, or what the Bidwells have done to the Cardinals. I've seen fans blame the front office for not having a decent back up quarterback. It's a stupid claim.

Many fans blame the front office for drafting poorly. I'll have a post on this possibly later this week. It's a big project, the most extensive review of the last 13 Colts' drafts that has ever been made. Let's just say that there are millions of other fans who would laugh at Colts fans' whining. First round picks are not the end all be all.

One Colts' blogger questioned why the Colts would run an offensive system that is inoperable to quarterback not named Peyton Manning. It's simple. Because it's been the best offense for the last 12 years.

It's not like anyone can be surprised by this. We've known for years that Manning was the centerpiece, the engine, the cornerstone of the Colts' offense. His mastery makes the whole thing effective.

Nobody was complaining when he was healthy! I never, not once in the last thirteen years, heard somebody say: "The Colts really should scale back their offense so when Manning eventually leaves, somebody can take over."

The offensive system has been based upon the incredible skills of Peyton Manning to maximize its effectiveness. And guess what, it's worked. To blame the front office for an injury situation that nobody expected is ridiculous.

I'm not saying we can't be critical. The Colts front office has made mistakes to be sure.

I didn't, and still don't, like the Donald Brown drafting. That was a big mistake. I have never liked Coach Caldwell. I don't like Clyde Christensen. Larry Coyer needs to be fired. Kelvin Hayden's contract was a mistake. I am a big doubter of this coaching staff. Coaching additions in the last two years have been terrible, in my opinion. The coaching staff receives far more criticism than the Polians, and I wouldn't mind if the whole staff were replaced. If you want to blame the coaching situation on the Polians, then do that.

But don't be an idiot. As long as the Colts plan on having Manning, then they will be linked to him. With him, they'll be incredibly successful. Without him, they will falter. Once it's apparent that Manning is done, then it will be appropriate to expect the front office to transition, to change. But to expect the Colts to be effective this year without Manning is to be delusional. To expect the Colts to be effective in any of the past 12 years without Manning is delusional.

Fans need to lower their expectations, and enjoy the 2011 season for what it's going to be. It's going to be a down season. Get over it. Take from it what you will.

Without Manning, this team isn't made to win. And until now, that's never been a bad thing. Pony up for the season. Support the Colts, if you have the stones. It's easy to complain and whine when things are going bad. It's never hard to find fault with others. It's hard to keep supporting. It's hard to keep writing blog post after blog post on a losing team.

Somehow, fan bases in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Seattle, Arizona, Buffalo, and Jacksonville have done it for years. Why can't we do it for one season? Grow up.

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.

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