Where to start? A winless team ranks 29th in points scored and is dead last in points allowed.
And in that sentence you have the reasoning why Peyton Manning, who hasn’t taken a snap this year and may never play again, might be the true MVP of the 2011 NFL season.
With Manning being Manning—calling plays at the line of scrimmage, deciphering defenses as the play clock winds down and then getting the ball to the right player at the right time—there’s little doubt that the Colts would have had more wins. I’m not saying they’d be a playoff team, but they wouldn’t be winless.
So, again, we learn a critical lesson about the NFL: When your offense is good enough to get early leads, your defense becomes so much better. Put another way: Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are much better chasing down comeback-focused quarterbacks than they are gearing up to stop the power off-tackle play on first-and-10.
The defense is 30th in yards per rush attempt and last in turnovers with 10.
What does it all mean? The glaring weakness of the Colts is that they are not the Colts of the last 10 years without Manning, which also is something that Denver might learn all too quickly.
In other words, no one does what Manning did. Few ever could. Now that this Hall of Famer has to face the possible end of his career, it’s time for the Colts to look elsewhere around their team.
The defense is built for speed and the pass rush. The Colts get more runs against them than any other team, which is the result of many things, but two stand out: The offense can’t stay on the field and the defense can’t stop anyone, nor force a turnover.
The result is an offense that plays from behind with a quarterback who is incapable of doing what has been done to make it successful, a la Manning.
Oh, and one other thing hurts the Colts. A decade’s worth of double-digit wins eventually takes its toll; their draft position is always in the high 20s, so the team has little chance of getting that elite left tackle, the first-rate receiver, the stud running back.
So, in all, overall weakness: Letting too much success catch up to an aging team.
Warning: Why would Andrew Luck want to come to Indy? The offensive line needs help.
Not that this will happen, but consider that Luck is smart enough to do his own negotiating. He doesn’t need marketing via the combine. He won’t need to hire an agent, therefore keeping his eligibility for his final year at Stanford alive.
The Colts may draft him, but he can use a return to Stanford as a chip to get him shipped to another team. This happened to a team waaaaay back in the past. The coach was Frank Kush. The team was the Colts. The player was John Elway, who had no more eligibility but he was a good enough baseball player to be drafted by the Yankees.