With the 2009 NFL season quickly approaching, it's understandable that Colts fans would begin to wonder what the 2009 season holds for their beloved Indianapolis Colts. It's also logical to assume that one would wonder what the 2009 season will hold for Peyton Manning.
Many might be inclined to believe that the answer to the two above mentioned questions would (or should) be the same according the overall result.
But it wouldn't be.
In an age when many people tend to blend individual success with team accomplishment, it's often easy to lose sight of how well an individual player might perform.
Football is a team game, we all know that.
We also all know that no one gets there by themselves, so before cries of unwarranted homerism begin to bombard this article, first understand that the recognition and appreciation for Peyton's (or any other player's) individual work is never meant as any knock towards how the Colts (or a specific team) have performed as a whole.
I believe that six consecutive seasons with 12 or more victories speaks for itself.
Regardless of what many people like to say about the Colts' postseason success, no team (successful or not in the postseason) has ever done what the Colts have done for the better part of this decade.
And believe me, don't think that each and every team isn't trying to do as well as the Colts have, regardless of the date on the calender.
But back to the original question I posed—What is in store for Peyton Manning in the 2009 season?
Last year, we saw Peyton Manning capture his third league MVP award, and while many people might try to knock his accomplishment as meaningless, they fail to understand the circumstances surrounding the award.
It's ironic—while many people try to say that "numbers don't tell the whole story" in an effort to knock Peyton's superior production over the years, the same people are the first to point to his "numbers" in a means to discredit his MVP award-winning season in 2009.
Of course, people will be quick to point out the statistics that are only a drop in production by the Manning-standard, but how often do you hear about Manning setting the NFL record for completion percentage in a single month?
Manning's completion percentage in the month of December of 2008 was higher than any quarterback's completion percentage in any month in NFL history.
So as we look forward to 2009, what can we expect from Peyton Manning?
The reality of the situation is that if Peyton produced on the field at the Hall of Fame level that he has for the majority of his career but the Colts fail to win a championship, it is very likely that his individual contributions will be knocked for not having translated into team success, the level of his own individual performance.
Let's say for instance that Peyton's numbers look as follows...
355 of 562 (63.1 percent) for 4,250 yards, 30 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
95.1 quarterback rating.
...But the Colts go 11-5 with a 15th ranked defense and lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Most people would criticize Manning for his failure to get the job done when it matters the most.
Especially if the defense were to play an average game in the Wild Card round—the blame would rest on Manning's shoulders for not being able to replicate his prior performance, even if the game he played wasn't bad by any other quarterback's standards.
How often do you hear people saying that the Colts would have never won 11 games had Manning not played at that level? Or perhaps, they would have went 8-8 had Manning thrown for only 3,200 yards and 23 touchdowns?
Again, if history is to repeat itself, Manning will take the blame for failing to produce in a game that the team would have never reached had he not performed as well as he did over the course of an entire season.
This season, I do feel that the Colts have a chance to play as well as any other team in the league.
If they can play well-rounded enough (offense, defense, and special teams), I think that they can advance in the playoffs even without Peyton producing at his typical level.
As we all know, the teams that win championships are either the most well-rounded, or they get hot at the right time of the year.
Will that be the case for the Colts this coming season?