2011 Colts: Proving Peyton Manning's Greatness Even More

Michael BurkeContributor IIISeptember 16, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 26: Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts looks on during the first half of an NFL preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 26, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

As long as the Colts continue to play as badly as they did in Houston last night, they will just continue to prove just how valuable Peyton Manning is.  

If you recall, when Tom Brady missed the entire 2008 NFL Season, the Patriots were still able to go 11-5 with Matt Cassel.  While they missed the postseason, 11-5 is still a very respectable record, especially without a future Hall-of-Famer like Brady under center.

Without Manning in their season opener, the Colts looked like one of the worst teams in the league while playing an Arian Foster-less Texans team.  

Now, granted, Matt Cassel is a better quarterback than Kerry Collins, who had to be lured out of his retirement chair with a $4 million incentive, but even with Cassel pulling the strings in the Colts' backfield, they'd be in trouble. The Colts had just 236 yards of total offense on Sunday, compared to 463 yards in last season’s season opener in Houston.  

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the Colts are next to nothing without Peyton running the offense.  
Peyton has been putting on a show in Indianapolis for quite some time now, as the Colts have made the playoffs the past nine seasons.  

Throughout his career, Manning has made guys who really don’t have any business starting in an NFL game look like potential stars.  Just last season, a season in which the Colts were absolutely plagued with injuries, Manning was able to get outstanding contributions out of guys like Jacob Tamme and Blair White.  You never heard of those guys until last season? Yeah, you aren’t alone.

He has had guys like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne in his career, but you can even make the argument that they were products of Manning. I think they could have had solid careers elsewhere, but nowhere near as good as careers they had with Peyton.

What cannot be argued, however, is the fact that the Colts never had much of a running game, and never had a good defense.  

The past nine seasons (all seasons in which they went to the playoffs), the Colts have had the 26th, 19th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 18th, 31st, 32nd, and 29th best running games.  Sure, they had a few average running games here and there, but for the most part were pretty awful, and were even dead last in the league when the Colts went to the Super Bowl in 2009.

The Colts had good defenses here and there during the past decade, but they also had pretty terrible ones, and they certainly were never reliable.

When a team has as inconsistent of running games and defenses as the Colts have the past nine seasons,  it is pretty hard to be successful, let alone go on one of the most impressive streaks of playoff appearances in sports history.

The only reason the Colts were able to do this was because of the great Peyton Manning, and without him that streak is more likely than not going to end.

He is easily the most valuable, and best, quarterback there is in the NFL right now.  None of these teams with the elite quarterbacks (the Saints, Packers, Patriots) would be as bad without their quarterbacks as the Colts are without Manning.  Now it is really just time to argue whether or not he is the best of all time.

If this is indeed the end of his thrilling career, which I don’t believe it is, it has been one hell of a ride that us Colts fans will never forget.