Another day, another Jim Irsay tweet polling the Colts fans. This time, Jim Irsay asked fans what veteran quarterbacks the team should be interested, noting that the team had to be prepared to start the season without Manning. Here is his tweet, unedited:
We r evaluating the QB sitch,#18 healing but we got 2 b prepared 4 early season possibility without him,defense has 2 pick it up,big time!
Not taking Pryor…what VET QB would u vote 4 to sign that’s out there? If sum1 has 2 hold the fort early season,who u going with?
The tweets understandably sent fans into a tizzy. Is it possible that Manning could miss the start of the regular season? Will the team sign a veteran quarterback to “hold the fort?” If you bleed horseshoes should you start panicking? Yes, but only because of a freaky blood disorder. When it comes to the health of the franchise, you should remain calm, and here’s why:
First, the Colts recently signed Manning to a $90MM contract, including a large chunk of guaranteed money. If the team had any serious concern over his health, they would have kept him under control with an unsigned franchise tag (which would not kill their cap) and wait it out. If they were reasonably sure that there were a health concern of any significance, they would have removed the tag.
Second, the Colts have known about the problems with Manning’s neck for months. They’ve been able to sit around and formulate a plan. They understand the complexity of what their offense requires. Two weeks before the season starts is not the time you start considering bringing in a veteran QB. The same QBs who were available weeks and/or months ago are the same ones available now. The quarterback market is probably not going to change all that much during the preseason and through cut downs. I am unaware of any situation that will be cutting a starting-caliber quarterback in the near future.
Third, remember back to 2008. Manning was clearly not fully recovered from the two surgeries on his leg. I do not believe he was truly ready to play. His injury severely hampered his underrated mobility and prevented him from avoiding hits. He took more hits in those opening weeks than throughout any other time in his career (until last year, when he took an alarming number of hits). He forced himself on the field despite not only his limited mobility, but the shakiness of an offensive line that was without C Jeff Saturday. He continued to play through the punishment and the losing.
Fourth, the problem with his neck is not structural. It is my understanding that he is not risking further injury to his neck through contact. The only issue, as I understand it, is the rehab process. This rehab process would involve the strength of the arm. Here’s what we know, circumstantially, about that process: Peyton was seen throwing in Denver over a month ago. He was seen throwing at the start of camp. He continued to throw over a long period of time, started becoming more visible with the team, and was making trips with the team. All signs, rehab wise, seem to point towards continual progress.
Fifth, the Colts are extremely tight-lipped about injuries. I do not believe that they woke up this morning and decided, “We should use twitter to enlighten the world about our injuries, and, you know, our first case with this new method should really be the most important player on the team.” I do not believe anything the team says regarding any injury. I take their actions much more seriously than I take their words. So far, their actions indicate that they expect Manning to be ready for the opener.
Finally, a few weeks ago Irsay’s twitter feed was viewed as an entertaining, eccentric feed. It was not viewed as an outlet for team news. People laughed and had a lot of fun with the various things Mr. Irsay tweeted. Throughout the summer, he has polled fans on what the Super Bowl entertainment should be. He has vented frustration over the Manning contract. He has declared that the Colts are not in the market for Moss, Owens, etc… but then polled the fan base on which aging receiver the team should sign. Irsay also referred to the need for a veteran QB earlier in training camp, and nothing came of it back then.
I love Jim Irsay. I believe he is one of, if not the best owner in the league. He has done a lot for the city. I find him honest, sincere, and I really do believe he cares about his team, his players, his fans and the community. All that said, I am not going to start panicking over the things he says on twitter. For me, I will let the Colts actions speak louder than their words.
And if you really do feel like panicking, go back and watch the Colts’ defense play against the Redskins.