There comes a time when all of the talking stops, the gloves come off, the lights come on and you either put up or shut up. That day has come for Indianapolis Colts "starting quarterback" Curtis Painter.
Monday night, Curtis Painter will step under center against the Tampa Bay Bucs, in his true debut as a starting quarterback in this league. Veteran journeyman quarterback Kerry Collins left last Sunday's game vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers early, apparently suffering a concussion after a nasty hit from James Farrior, who was fined $15,000 by the league for the hit on Collins earlier this week.
Painter's moment in the spotlight comes amid much scrutiny and debate. It is, however, one that I am glad has arrived for the player I have since dubbed "the kid."
Painter's reputation with the Colts has been somewhat laughable. Many jeers, jokes and insults plague social media and work break rooms about how awful Curtis Painter is. This is based on his disastrous showings in games past.
However, I'm not buying it. As I've said before, many of Painter's moments thus far have unfairly been unwinnable situations in which many quarterbacks would struggle. Never mind the fact that he's still basically a rookie.
In 2009, a fresh and green Curtis Painter stepped in after a 14-0 season start for a future legend against a hungry and aggressive New York Jets team to lead an offense that appears can't be run by anyone other than the exceptional quarterback for whom it was designed. The Colts' 17-6 lead quickly became a 29-17 loss, and it was a disaster that set his reputation in motion.
Should Curtis Painter be the starter for the rest of the 2011 season?
However, Painter has a few years under his belt. Now mind you, that doesn't mean games. Painter played in the final three games of the 2009 season and did not play last year.
This year, Painter showed signs of maturity in the preseason. Why? Because he finally had time with the first team offense. He had a chance to practice, take control a little bit and to begin to build a bond with his players. This bond is extremely important for a quarterback and his receivers.
Then, last week, even after Kerry Collins was brought in and put in front of the kid, he answered when his name was called. In a veteran type performance, Painter lead his team on a solid 80-yard drive to tie the game with two minutes left in the game. Painter was 5-for-7 for 60 yards on that game-tying drive, on Sunday Night Football, against the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers with the entire nation watching.
Was it a fluke? I don't know. But I do know that he's survived a storm, worked hard, gotten some reps and patiently waited. Now, it's time. Let's see what the kid can do.