This season for the Indianapolis Colts has been thwarted by injuries and disappointment. The surgery to Peyton Manning before the start of the season made everyone worry but never expect what became of the season.
The Colts opened up in Houston getting dismantled, looking like a High School team losing 34-0 at halftime.
Indianapolis also saw the effects of the lockout in one major facet, which is injuries. In the first four weeks they have lost both of their defensive captains, Melvin Bullitt and Gary Brackett, for the season. On top of that the Colts have practice squad call-ups playing on Monday night on both the defensive and offensive lines.
With all the adversary, the Colts looked like a team who could win the past two weeks. Curtis Painter looked like an average starting quarterback on Monday, going 13-30 for 281 yards and two scores. With Painter getting more exposure to the first string offense a question raises, do the Colts want him to save their season?
For nine straight seasons, the Colts have won 10 or more games. They have been a consistent winner in the NFL, something that the Colts organization as well as their fans take pride in. While some teams go out and make flashy deals to bring in stars, the Colts build their team and get behind 18.
The season is only four games in, there is no real time to panic completely. Understand that only one team has ever made the playoffs from starting out 0-4, but how much would finishing 8-8 do for the defense's moral and confidence if the Colts can finish strong behind them, rather than Peyton?
The Colts have shown in the past two weeks that they have a stronger defense than many give them credit for, especially against the run. The Colts were in position to win this game if they were to just shut down two late big plays.
For the Indianapolis Colts, a moral victory on the season might turn into a bigger win than selling out and giving up on the season.
This may sound like a stretch, but let's at least explore the options. We have 12 games left on the season, with a lot of winnable games left in that stretch. Curtis Painter showed at times that he has the arm to play in the NFL, he just needs to get comfortable and get some time to throw.
With all the injuries to the offensive line, the Bucs ran countless blitz packages to try to disrupt Painter, with a lot of success.
While his numbers weren't flashy from an accuracy standpoint, take a look at the Colts offense as a whole and notice how easy they can make it for him to make the next step. When the offensive line gets healthy, they have the potential to be very good, anchored by one of the best centers in football, Jeff Saturday.
While the running game is a little shaky, Joseph Addai is a very good pass blocker and has shown at times that he is capable of being a solid running back. The main reason why he has the chance to take the next step is the receiving core.
They are led by Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, two of the best at their respected positions, but are also complimented by solid receivers such as Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie.
Painter has not had a lot of time getting reps because Manning has never been in jeopardy of anything until this year. Being the backup for Peyton has always been one where you aren't going to get more attention in practice.
Give it some time and he might pay off by the end of the season.
What do the Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks all have in common? All are in the thick of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. All the hype and credentials for Luck are well known around the football community, comparing him to a certain member of the Colts who they are missing the most.
Some people even go to comparing him to another Stanford legend, saying he is the best prospect since John Elway.
Interesting connection between the three of them could arise though if the Colts do end up with the number one pick. All three could be number one selections from the Colts. While Elway demanded a trade out, which led to the Colts eventually getting Manning down the line from continued losing, Manning's injury might open the door for the Colts to get Luck.
While Painter may have the keys to the offense right now, I think the consensus answer should be to play the season out, hoping that we have the opportunity for the successor to Manning. Painter has been in the offense for three seasons now and they had so little confidence in him that they signed Kerry Collins before the season to start Week 1.
The best hope for the future of the team is to take Luck, given the opportunity, and see what happens to Peyton after the season. If he comes back, he will likely only have a season or two left before his body completely breaks down.
Let Luck learn the offense and turn the keys over to continue the winning tradition, minus the year they tanked to get him.
While giving up on the season to take Andrew Luck might be the sexy thing to do, the Colts might have too many holes on their team other than the heir apparent to Manning. If Painter were not able to save the season and the Colts hold the No. 1 pick, they have all the cards in their hand.
Many teams are going to be trying to give an arm and a leg to get Luck and the Colts could benefit from a Ricky Williams type deal.
If the Colts could use the pick of Andrew Luck as a bartering chip, they could bolster their running game, their offensive line even more, help their secondary, and maybe even get a bigger linebacker to be a physical threat for the opposing run game.
To me, there is just too much that the Colts could gain in the next two years that they might be able to get the help outside of Luck and improve quicker than banking in one player.
I do not doubt that Luck can lead a team, we have all seen it at Stanford, however there are some other options at quarterback in the draft that are viable that could translate into the NFL.
If the Colts could trade the pick, they could still end up with a Landry Jones or even my personal favorite, Kellen Moore. Moore is the most accurate quarterback I have seen in the college game in the past few years and is just a winner.
If the Colts were to trade back, they could take him in the second round and have three picks ahead of that to bolster the rest of their team, dependent on a trade.
While this may depend on how big of a hardcore fan you are, I for one just cannot see much benefit out of Painter saving the season.
The potential benefits for the long-term future of the team, along with the amount of injuries and the apparent lack of depth we have just makes it obvious to me that the Colts need to bolster their team, and whether it is through Luck and six others at the top of each round, or through trading the rights to him, they need to take that chance.
Painter is too inaccurate right now, completing less than 50 percent of his passes on Monday night, which doesn't make the fans very optimistic about his future as the heir to the throne of one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game.
When the opportunity comes to get the guy who people say is the next Peyton Manning and you are in line to have a chance at getting him, I'm on board with taking a season of pain for a decade of dominance.