Steve Walsh, Mark Rypien, Brock Huard, Jim Sorgi and Curtis Painter. That is a list of some of the players that held a backup quarterback position in Indianapolis while Peyton Manning was on the roster.
A list of journeymen who were past their prime and guys who the Colts probably hoped never
had to play in a meaningful situation. In fact, none of them ever started a game unless it was due to the coaching staff shutting the starters down for a Super Bowl run.
So in that time, how much mentoring did Peyton Manning actually do? The team knew he didn't really need to take on that role because he was going to be the quarterback of that team for as long as he wanted to.
That was until the 2011 season.
With Peyton suffering from a career altering neck injury, the team had to shut him down for the entire season. The backup was Curtis Painter, one of those guys the Colts probably didn't want to have to rely on.
This was evidenced by the fact that just before the season started, the team signed long-time veteran Kerry Collins, a move that drew questioning from within the team.
Collins didn't perform well in the three games he played before suffering a concussion, ending his season.
In stepped Painter and the pressure was on. But in nine games, he threw nine interceptions and had a QB rating of 66.6 as the team got off to an awful 0-13 start.
They plugged in Dan Orlovsky over the final three games and that was the only time the team won.
It was an ugly finish for a team that had long been a perennial playoff contender. It was hard for Colts fans to digest the way the season went, not being used to such below-average quarterback play.
It's a testament to both Manning's talent and his durability that up to that point, Colts fans were never faced with that problem.
And an argument can be made that if the Colts would have found a way to beat Jacksonville in the season finale and avoided the No. 1 overall pick, Manning may have never left town and may still be a Colt today.
After an emotional press conference leaving Indianapolis, Manning became a free agent, finally settling on the Denver Broncos. But in Denver, things will be a little different for Manning.
Denver Broncos fans know they are getting one of the game's all-time elite passers. But they also should know that they're only getting him briefly.
Manning is now 36 years old so he won't don the orange and blue colors for long. That is why the Broncos selected 6'7" prospect Brock Osweiler in the second round of last week's NFL Draft.
The Broncos clearly want Osweiler to come in and soak up everything he can from Peyton Manning because by selecting him in the second round, the Broncos showed they want Osweiler to be the guy in the future.
So, how can Manning help that cause? Is it even his responsibility? Well, no, it's not.
But Manning is the type of player who wants to help the team he plays for and that is evident.
Where was Peyton during Indy's dismal 2-14 season last year?
Was he at home sulking about his injuries?
No, he was on the sidelines, occupying a roster spot when the Colts easily could have put him on I/R, coaching up the quarterbacks.
Whether it was Collins or Painter or Orlovsky, Peyton was in their ear the entire game, trying to coach them up. Peyton was interested in seeing the team succeed.
Even during the last game of the season against the Jaguars, Manning was strolling the sideline and pumping his fists, trying to rally his team because he knew what a defeat likely meant.
Behind Manning, Osweiler can become a very successful quarterback. He possesses a very strong arm and can make all the NFL throws. He hits the short, intermediate passes well, something this offense is likely to thrive on.
But what Osweiler can also gain from Manning is his ability to read defenses at the line of scrimmage and his knowledge of a no-huddle offense.
Peyton Manning need not take a "hands on" approach to mentoring Osweiler, that is not his job nor his responsibility.
But Osweiler will be able to gain invaluable knowledge of the position and how to be good at it by simply watching and studying one of the game's all-time greats.
He just happens to be his teammate, running the same offense he will one day be able to slide right into, prepared for success.
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