Steelers vs. Colts: Indianapolis Must Looks Elsewhere After QBs Cost Colts Win

Brandon GalvinFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 19:  Mike Hartline #9, Dan Orlovsky#6  and Curtis Painter #7 of the Indianapolis Colts look at play sheets during the game against the Washington Redskins at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts would have pulled off the improbable upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers if they had an effective quarterback.

Kerry Collins may have the veteran experience, leadership and poise the Colts desperately need, but he is far too erratic in the pocket and fails to get the receivers the rock on time.

Backup Curtis Painter has the understanding of the game plan and the receivers, but he does not have the necessary skill set to lead the offense.

If the Colts merely had somebody who could combine the features they’re looking for, they would have handed the Steelers a devastating loss and stayed in the AFC South division title race without future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

Manning will not walk through the door this year. Colts owner Jim Irsay did not rule him out for the season, but it is a foregone conclusion at this point that Indy will not risk losing their franchise cornerstone for the rest of his career, especially if the Colts are out of the playoff race.

Irsay is clearly hoping his team can crawl back into the race despite an 0-3 start, but how will they get there?

It certainly won’t be with Collins, who was ousted from Week 3 with a concussion, or Painter, who was wildly ineffective.

Joseph Addai ran strong through the contest. He put the team on his back and showed the determination to carry the offense for the rest of the season. Veteran center Jeff Saturday led an inconsistent and inexperienced offensive line to dominate Pittsburgh’s defensive line.

More importantly, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis led a supercharged defense at home. They each sacked and forced Ben Roethlisberger to fumble the rock. They dominated Pittsburgh’s lackluster offensive line on nearly every single down.

Freeney’s forced fumble led to a defensive touchdown by Jamaal Anderson. The problem is that Mathis’ first forced fumble and recovery did not score and only led to an opportunity by the offense.

Collins failed to lead the team into the end zone inside the 10-yard line and was forced to kick a field goal. Had they scored there, they presumably would have won the contest.

This game should have been a blowout, but the Colts’ offense failed to capitalize on the opportunities provided by the defense.

It is impossible to think Freeney and Mathis can lead the way like this every single week. This defense is not built for a slobber-knocker like we saw against Pittsburgh, and they won’t carry the team. This unit will quickly lose confidence as the offense fails to put points on the board.

The Colts need to bring in a seasoned veteran who knows the ins and outs of the AFC. Head coach Jim Caldwell already conceded that he is considering a change at QB even if Collins is ruled healthy for Week 4, according to ESPN’s Staff.

David Garrard was inexplicably cut by Jacksonville after the Jaguars’ preseason finale. Garrard is still a quality game manager who will be able to maneuver behind Indy’s offensive line.

He has the accuracy and arm strength to get the ball down the field. He is a consummate professional and will put in the time and effort to gain immediate chemistry with Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and the Colts’ receivers.

Despite an 0-3 start to the season, it is not unthinkable that Garrard could come in and help lead the Colts into a tight division title race.

The Colts battle the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay next week on Monday Night Football, so expect an 0-4 start. After that, the only presumable losses would be at the hands of Atlanta, New England and Baltimore. With Garrard, the Colts could win every other contest and still finish with an 8-8 record.

Indianapolis still has five division games left and don’t play their next until Week 8 against Tennessee. The team also finishes the season with three games against division opponents, including the regular-season finale in Jacksonville.

Garrard should have been signed by the Colts immediately after he was cut. It is imperative they don’t waste any time in the wake of Collins’ concussion and Painter’s obvious ineffectiveness and sign Garrard.

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