Naturally, the most terrifying thing for an Indianapolis Colts fan is the prospect of starting a quarterback not named Manning. So, when so little meaningful information has been made available on the full nature of Peyton Manning’s injury, and team owner Jim Irsay is tweeting about finding a veteran quarterback and preparing to play without Manning in the first week of the regular season, nothing could be worse than validating those fears by signing a retired veteran quarterback who started as recently as 2010.
The problem with all of this goes back to the first part of the equation. There has been so little specificity with regards to Manning’s injury from anyone — including Manning, Irsay, the Polians, or Head Coach Jim Caldwell — that knowing what the signing signifies is impossible. Of course the biggest way to generate news and buzz is to prepare for the worst possibility and assume that the move means that the Colts legitimately believe Manning will not be ready to go.
The problem is that even Irsay’s tweet above is about being prepared for that possibility — it isn’t about a certainty. No one has indicated that Manning is not on-schedule to play in the first game. However, he is still on the physically unable to perform list, he has been ruled out of any preseason competition, and will only have days following the final preseason game to get active and prepare for the Texans in Houston. In many ways, the problems with the suggestions that Manning will be unable to play were spelled out as good as they could be spelled out by Coltzilla’s Jacob Crocker earlier this morning.
It should be known, though, that if Manning does fail to start and play against the Texans, much of the team fan base will be out for blood. There is absolutely no viable excuse for fans to not be made aware of an issue that is so serious the team’s franchise quarterback that he could miss time during the regular season. If his injury is so serious that it affects his play to the point that he is unable to go, it was not made clear to anyone at any time. Even now, no indication has been made that the injury is that serious — unless people are simply expected to read between the lines.
Worse, if the team knew this was a possibility and did not make a more concerted effort to bring in a veteran quarterback to learn the Colts system until a few weeks prior to the season and only days before the third preseason game, it is an absolute travesty of mismanagement and poor judgment. It is really hard to believe that an owner and front office could have been that obtuse, that uninformed, or that inept. These people have helped form a team that has set NFL records for regular season success, won a Super Bowl, gone to two, and is widely regarded as one of the most professional front offices in league history (let alone in the NFL now).
The only POSSIBLE excuse for the front office if it turns out that Manning’s injury, surgery, and recovery were so serious that it could keep him from competing during the regular season was explained in the Check it to Pancakes podcast by Coltzilla’s Laura Calaway. There is a CHANCE that Manning has somehow experienced a setback in his recovery. Greg Cowan indicated that if the issue is “nerve-related” as some reports suggest it seems potentially silly to think that a nerve was repairing itself and then decides to start breaking back down again. However, Dr. Blue is right, a setback of some kind cannot be completely ruled out.
What makes the issue more interesting is something that few Colts fans will be able to appropriately understand. Reggie Wayne reacted to the signing in a way that tends to show very little confidence in Collins and even defends current backup Curtis Painter.
We don’t even know him, we ain’t vanilla, man, we ain’t no simple offense. So for him to come in here and be the starter, I don’t see it. I think that’s a step back.
(The Colts front office) needs to do what they need to do I guess. I’ll tell you one thing. I’m letting it all hang out for Painter. Like I said before training camp, I’m a Painter fan. I’m going to do what I’ve got to do to make Painter look good.
I don’t want to make it seem like I’m not welcoming or having open arms to anybody that comes to our organization. If they open the doors for Kerry Collins to come, then that’s fine. I can’t do (anything) about that anyways. But I’ll be damned if we’re going to open the doors for someone else, and just drop our heads on who we already have. The Colts are big on protecting their own, so I’m (going to) help protect our own.
The problem with all of this, of course, is that Curtis Painter has looked horrific throughout his entire professional career. A lot of fans were willing to give Painter a chance to look good during the 2011 preseason and disprove his naysayers after he had three full weeks of work with the first team during training camp, but that has not happened. Ask Dallas Clark if he feels comfortable with Painter throwing to him after he was unable to get the ball close enough to him to make a catch against a horrific offensive first half against the Redskins.
I thought Dan Orlovsky looked much more in tune with the offense when he took the field in the second half than Painter has in the first two games. Even though Orlovsky has been working with the team throughout the entirety of training camp, he does not receive the same support. Loyalty to teammates and within an organization is certainly good for team chemistry, and I am sure Wayne will come around if Collins is able to be productive or if he does take the field at some point during the season, but that it was in the name of Painter is befuddling.
No matter the reason for the Collins signing, it is quite clearly causing an uproar amongst fans, players, and journalists. It would behoove the Colts organization to release more details about Peyton Manning’s injury, surgery, and recovery to get things settled down and allow the team to return to football. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if players are reacting to the Collins signing with the same knowledge of Manning’s status as a lot of fans. Right now, there is nothing good coming from being quiet.