2009 Colts: Stumbling Out of the Gates

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2009 Colts: Stumbling Out of the Gates
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Colts are undergoing the biggest coaching staff shake-up the team has faced in a decade.

The impact of these changes is Indy's biggest question mark entering a season which otherwise would be met with a great deal of optimism.

If it wasn't enough that the Colts were entering a season with a new head coach, defensive coordinator, and special teams coordinator, NFL pension changes have led two long-time Colts coaches to retire, Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore and Offensive Line Coach Howard Mudd.

A loophole in NFL pension and contract rules has allowed retiring coaches to accept their full pension in one lump sum, only to return to the team as paid consultants. 

Questions about the role played by a "paid consultant" are now front-and-center in the ongoing uncertainty about Moore and Mudd's future with the team.

It is understandable and, to a degree, acceptable that Colts fans would be in the dark on some of the NFL's small-print rules and regulations. What is disconcerting is that a team in transition would be further burdened with a breakdown in communication in-house.

Peyton Manning is not known for making negative public statements about the Colts franchise or front-office.  To the contrary, Manning is the face of the franchise and is often very careful to present a unified front to media and fans on the condition of his team.

All the more reason to be concerned when Manning refers to confusion about Moore and Mudd's future roles with the team by saying:

"It's not a situation that I'm just thrilled about. I think the communication has been pretty poor, in my opinion ... I'm not sure everybody's on the same page in this building."

Colts President Bill Polian responded to Manning's public remarks explaining the reason for the lack of in-house communication when he said:

"We're confused, too. The people that are supposed to have answers still don't have answers. Whether we can bring them back, when we can bring them back, remains to be seen."

Even if the Colts brass is unsure about Moore and Mudd's future, there is no excuse for players heading into summer training activities to not be given the most up-to-date information regarding who, or in what capacity their coaches will be leading them in the coming season.

Someone in the front office dropped the ball by not at least assuring players that the issue was in-hand and that any new information will be brought to their attention as soon as it can be confirmed. Instead, the Colts front office appears disjointed, chaotic, and in complete disarray.

Head Coach Jim Caldwell is facing his first major road bump.

It would be relatively easy for Colts fans to have confidence in their team's new leader if he was handed the reins to his new team free of conflict or controversy.

In the face of this summer's coaching shake-up and on-going uncertainty, Caldwell will be presented with his first opportunity to show that he is really ready to take on his new responsibility.

No horse race is won right out of the gate.  Accordingly, Colts fans nor players should go into a state of panic just yet.

It will be up to Caldwell to bring his team together, solidify his coaching staff, and alleviate the concerns of his players. Only then will the Colts be able to hit their stride.

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