Jim Irsay was on the tweet path again this morning, this time tweeting (presumably seriously) that the Colts have come to terms with Kerry Collins. It is widely believed that it will take Colts fans significantly longer to come to terms with Kerry Collins.
The move itself is relatively confusing – Kerry Collins has been available the entire off-season. If the Colts were going to bring him in, it would seem to make more sense to bring him in as soon as they were allowed, rather than waiting until two weeks before the season. It is not as if they are using their QB roster spots on young projects that they hope to turn into trade chips. Hartline and Orlovsky are obviously camp fodder and the Colts would have lost nothing by cutting either of them. Why bring him in now?
I have been saying, both on Coltzilla.com and my over-used Twitter feed, that the Colts are saying they are concerned about Manning, but were acting as if they expected him to play. The signing of Collins is the first action that indicates they are not entirely sure. I still hold out hope that this move says more about Painter and Orlovsky than it does Manning. Perhaps the front office is just now realizing what we all have known for more than a year: Painter is not a legitimate NFL quarterback.
Manning is older, and perhaps the front office is coming to an understanding that there is a significantly higher chance that Manning misses time at some point during this season, and they want insurance for that situation. If that is the case, bringing Collins in now may not be an issue. Barring a catastrophe in Week 1, Collins would have ample time to learn the system, get to know the players, and be ready if he should need to fill in.
What is the outlook should Collins start one or more games this year? Put simply: not good. Collins is a significantly more talented quarterback than the trio of Painter, Orlovsky and Hartline, even at the ripe old age of crusty. But Collins took a lot of abuse last year in Tennessee, behind a significantly better offensive line, because he was unable to avoid the rush. I worry that Collins could be in line to miss some time due to injury behind the Swiss cheese the Colts would put out in front of him. The Colts would put up more points with Collins, but in the end still lose those games.
In the end, I continue to reserve judgment on the Colts until Week 1. If Manning starts, which I still believe will happen, then none of this will matter in the grand scheme of things. They will have significantly improved the backup quarterback position and helped local business out (by increasing liquor sales) in the process. If Manning does miss Week 1, however, my assessment of the Colts front office will change. My calmness has been a direct result of their actions, or lack thereof, regarding Manning’s health.
If Manning does not start on opening day, the fact that they will have acted so casual towards THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITION IN THE NFL will be mind numbingly horrific. I have always put great faith in anything that Bill Polian has done, but it will take me quite some time to come to terms with how he has handled this situation.