We knew Peyton Manning was valuable.
“Indispensable” has been the word most often applied.
We knew the rest of the Colts were not very talented, but heck, with Manning, most turned a blind eye to poor coaching, poor drafting, lack of improvement, lack of talent...
With Manning, it just didn't matter.
So much so that Colts owner Jim Irsay was able to play oblivious in front of the camera, going as far as to refer to his Colts as a "great franchise," pretending to be baffled as to why Manning wasn't so eager to jump on board for more of the same.
You'd have to give me a reason why, you know, it wouldn't get done. In other words, you can't think of one negative you know: to be with a great franchise, with a legacy city. You know, I know those things mean a lot to him. The money is there. I'm already offering more than any player that's being paid in the league. So why wouldn't it get done? You know, you'd have to ask yourself or them.
I knew Irsay had to have been more aware than that, though even I overestimated the caliber of Indianapolis' Manning-less Colts. It was Ray Lewis who actually proved to be more informed than the rest of us, referring to a team that was just coming off a Super Bowl appearance as a "very below-average ball club" sans its star quarterback.
You can put in whatever piece you want with 18, 18 will make it work; all he says is just find your way open, I'll get the ball there. And that's where the Reggie Wayne's, the Dallas Clark's, the Marvin Harrison's; that's how dominant he is. If you take him out of the game, no disrespect to nobody else on the Colts, but you make them a very below-average ball club.
"Very below-average ball club" would be putting it mildly.
With an injured Manning at the helm, sometimes throwing to practice-squad players the likes of the sensational Blair White, the Colts ranked first in passing in 2010.
With the return of both Dallas Clark and Austin Collie this season, they've displayed what another quarterback could do with "all of Manning's weapons," as they are currently ranked 28th in passing in 2011.
The Colts rank 30th in scoring and sport the 32nd-ranked scoring defense, allowing a regurgitative 31.4 points per game.
Not hard to do when you've been outscored 120-24 in the past three games.
With Manning's weapons the likes of Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Dallas Clark to throw to, Curtis Painter has dominated during the past three weeks by completing 48 of 93 passes for 415 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions (posting a 45.8 quarterback rating).
Stats are for losers, anyway.
Manning was always about the big numbers; I say he really owes his success to the explosive power of his dangerous weapons and the cerebral coaching of one of the most cunning minds in the NFL today: the great Coach Caldwell.
We all know if Manning were to come back, senseless Colts fans would try to do as they've always done and give him all of the credit.
The Colts will be fine without him; they just have to work out the kinks a bit.
They’re a great franchise—Jim Irsay even told us so.
For the Colts' sake, I say spare us the "Peyton Manning problem."
Trade No. 18, release him—it really doesn’t matter—and watch Andrew Luck win this “great franchise” a Super Bowl in 2012.
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