Remember when the Indianapolis Colts kicked Peyton Manning out the back door? Remember when they kicked him to the curb like he was useless trash?
Its 6 years later but we have had some time to access and we have to wonder if they regret that decision to go all in on Andrew Luck while saying goodbye to one of the NFLs greatest Quarterbacks of all time.
The Colts had the number 1 pick in the 2012 draft and Peyton Manning had missed the entire 2011 due to a lingering neck injury but instead of taking their time to see if Manning will play again they quickly abandoned him and went after their new shiny toy in 1st overall pick Andrew Luck.
Its a bit hard to blame the Colts who were in a predicament, Luck was seen as the best Quarterback to come out of the draft since Manning and Elway and other greats, he was hyped and talked about like hes was next best thing since sliced breaD so if they didn’t take him and Manning couldn’t play again then they would have looked really stupid and would have had to swallow the pill of missing out on a future generational star that every single person had as the number 1 pick in the draft so they felt they had to take that chance and let Manning go for Luck.
It started off well for Luck reaching the playoffs in his first three seasons and even got as far as the AFC Championship game, he led the Colts to the second greatest come back in NFL history coming back from 28 points down vs the chiefs although eventually falling to the Patriots (like everyone else does) finishing one game shy of the superbowl but he looked like he would be back in the mix the next season and for years to come and would be the guy to eventually get the colts back to the promised land.
However the injuries started to pile up, as good as he was early in his career he was taking to many hits trying to do to much for his team as he would often run the ball into defenders on a regular basis instead of sliding or running out of bounds due to his size and competitive nature.
He also has never had a good Offensive Line and constantly took beatings behind the line of scrimmage and it seemed like a position the Colts never fully addressed and they missed on the lineman they brought in through the draft or free agency, he has underrated athletic ability so it was part of his game to also run but its not an easy way to make a living in the NFL and fans grew more and more concerned with how much more he would be able to take.
Hes a tough competitor who would play through injuries and because the Colts didn’t have a great roster or supporting cast around him he was tasked with going above and beyond for his team and as predicted his body started to break down slowly.
He started to get hurt often and would constantly push himself to rush back into the line up playing injured alot of the time but as the injuries started to pile up it became clear that he would either have to change his game or the Colts would finally have to address the line but neither happened and even though he still had the Colts in contention we could all see that something bad was going to happen.
Well the worst has happened, after a much published injury riddled 2015 and 2016 season he finally had to have surgery in the off season to fix his shoulder and rehab other injuries, he was expected to be back for training camp or at the very least be ready for the 2017 regular season but all off season long questions about his health and delays in his rehab schedule started to surface and he ended up missing the whole 2017 season. The reports were inconsistent and some were lead to believe he might be ready at some point during the season but eventually he was completely shut down to fully rehab and target a return for the 2018 season.
But as we are entering early off season work outs its still unclear when he will be ready to take the field and hes still yet to even throw a football yet alone be ready for workouts, this is a huge deal because he should have been ready by now or at least have a timetable for a return but this off season is shaping up alot like last year surrounded by uncertainty and concerns are starting to grow on whether he will even play ever again and if he did play will he ever be the same player he used to be? This was not the plan when they drafted him to be the ”Next Peyton Manning” and it certainly wasn’t the plan when they signed him to a 140m mega deal 2 seasons back and while the panic button might have not been pressed just yet you can be sure that the tools to break the glass are on deck.
Meanwhile Peyton Manning who signed with the Denver Broncos after being released by the Colts had a great run with his new team, he won 4 division titles went to two superbowls and hosted the Lombardi trophy in his last season, he set the NFL record which still stands today at 55 touchdowns in his second year with the team clearly showing that he still had a few years left and that it could have been a mistake to doubt him and let him go so early.
Some people say its still a good deal for the Colts because they would rather have potentially 15 years of Luck rather then 4 years of Manning but this game is about winning superbowls and Manning has been to two and won one since his release and Luck hasnt even been to the superbowl and we dont even know when he will be back or what kind of player he will be when he does return so from where i sit i would still rather have the superbowl in that span and if that meant Luck wasnt on the roster i would take my chances and find a Quarterback elsewhere after Manning retired. Really and truly they could have had both and had Luck sit on the bench for a couple of seasons as the quarterback rookie pay scale is manageable these days just like Aaron Rodgers sitting behind Farve for a few seasons and i cant think of a better mentor to sit and learn behind then the great Peyton Manning.
Its all hindsight but i cant help but wonder if the Colts regret the decision but if Luck can come back better then ever and win a couple of superbowls and have a great career then nobody will even remember all the games hes missed but also keep in mind the Colts aren’t a great team right now so even if Luck does come back fully healthy i still don’t think he alone can turn this franchise back around just yet, they are in rebuilding mode and need a much better supporting cast and on top of that they have a new head coach so theres alot working against this team to win the division or make the playoffs.
Also as good Luck was he always turned the ball over way to much, this could be a result of him trying to hard and forcing plays as he was forced to do everything for the Colts but again he doesn’t have the defense or enough pieces in place to cover up those mistakes so if he is to have any chance of making a playoff run during this rebuilding period he must cut down the turnovers and play smarter football.
Another thing that adds to the story line is the rest of the division, the Colts ran the AFC South for more then a decade and the division rivals didn’t offer much competition during Mannings time or during Lucks first few years but now they have caught up. The Texans Jaguars and Titans are all potentially playoff teams who are on the rise and i honestly think with or without Luck they are at best the 3rd best team in that division so no more cake walks to the playoffs for the Colts.
If healthy he is still the best most experienced Quarterback in the division so they at least have a chance to make some noise but all things considered including the uncertainty of his health i change my mind….its time to panic