Let’s Talk: Indianapolis Colts

New G.M. in Town

Owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, decided to move on from Bill and Chris Polian. With all the changes taking place, many wonder if they move on from the injured franchise quarterback, Peyton Manning. Irsay found his new general manager in Philadelphia, Ryan Grigson. Grigson was a scout for St. Louis before and directing collegiate scouting for the Eagles. You can rest assure that he had a role in acquiring talent for Andy Reid’s Eagles, such as: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy to name a few. Grigson steps into a unique role and an interesting position. The Colts became competitive in the early 2000s, winning division titles, contending in the playoffs, winning the Superbowl, and now they have the first pick of the draft. And then you have quarterback Peyton Manning.

New Coach in Town

Chuck Pagano replaces Mike Caldwell. After multiple candidates were linked to the Colts and interviewed, this may have been their target all along. The holdup? Well, Pagano was defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, whom were still in the playoffs. Last year, and a week ago to be exact, he was named defensive coordinator for Baltimore. A year later, coaching the 3rd ranked defense got him a head coaching gig and here we are. Most people know about the Ravens’ defense, finishing 2nd against the run and 4th against the pass. Before that, he was a secondary coach for Cleveland, Oakland, and Baltimore.

I love this move. Sure, he only had one year of experience as a defensive coordinator at the NFL level, but he learned behind Rex Ryan and did a tremendous job, resulting in his new role. The franchise goes from an offensive philosophy to a defensive-minded coach, which would benefit Peyton Manning or whoever is at the helm. Look for the Colts to add defensive personnel through free agency and the draft. Offensively they have solid players at the skills positions, but they must address and bolster the offensive line.

Last But Not Least, Peyton Manning

Manning is without a doubt a first-ballot Hall of Fame player. He turns 36-years old in March, and as we all know, is recovering from a serious neck injury. I was one of the few bold people last summer, expecting him to miss the season. Well his absence was felt and the team went 2-14, rewarded with the first pick of the draft. We will touch on that later.

I won’t go as far to say that Manning will never play another down. It is a realistic option, because Peyton is an intelligent individual with the personality to be on television if he wanted. But back to when he was on the field, most overlook his knee issues and think he will come back to elite status. Knee issues never go away. Although he’s not a mobile quarterback, you have to step into your throws and move around in the pocket. Hopefully he has recovered from that and can focus on rehabilitating his neck.

Last season, the team went to the playoffs with a 10-win season, but Manning wasn’t entirely there. I saw his level of play incrementally dropping, which is common with aging athletes, but this guy is an iron man that plays through a lot even if you don’t hear about it. Throwing for yards is one thing, but not everything. In 2010, his last playing season, he averaged 42 passes a game. Of course a quarterback is going to throw for some yards, especially when the offense is one-dimensional like the Colts were. He had his lowest rating since 2002, and most interceptions since 2002 as well. His completion percentage and touchdowns were usual for a quarterback of his stature, but I don’t expect him to dominate from day one. And that’s if he is healthy and jogs back on the field.

Look, hee is a great leader, teammate, and watches all the film in the world, but when it comes to working out and practicing, he is going to be sore. He doesn’t have to get sacked to take a hit. He will get hit and I respect him so much to say that he will always get up. But for how long?  There will be questions regarding Peyton Manning’s health for the rest of his career, and it’s understandable. No one gets younger and time catches up with everyone eventually. Will the Colts want that on their plate? Of course another team would take the risk.

Maybe we will get an answer soon, because if Manning is on the roster he is due a $28 million bonus on March 8. We will be able to read a lot into what the Colts do, when they make their decisions on veterans like Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne.