All is not well in the land of the horse—perhaps not since Tom Moore and Howard Mudd decided to enter (were backhandedly forced by) the NFL’s redesigned pension system into retirement.
Definitely not since Peyton Manning publicly aired his concerns Tuesday, expressing his displeasure at the lack of communication regarding the entire state of affairs.
"It's not a situation that I'm just thrilled about,'' Manning told the Indianapolis Star on Tuesday. "I think the communication has been pretty poor in my opinion. Somebody says one thing, then somebody else says another thing.”
Losing Moore and Mudd was bad, but it was basically beyond anyone’s control. The NFL changed the pension system rather radically, and both coaches would likely have been negatively affected by the new policy.
Still, the problem of replacing two men who were looking at year 12 with the Colts—two men who were crucial to Indianapolis’ prodigious offense—was going to be the offseason’s greatest challenge.
Things clearly aren’t going well.
Assistant head and receivers coach Clyde Christensen is the de facto offensive coordinator, while Mudd’s former assistant, Pete Metzelaars, has assumed offensive line duties. Manning isn’t impressed.
"It's not normal not having a full coaching staff,'' Manning told the Star. "I know we hired a couple of guys to come in, but these guys are learning. They're not offering a lot of coaching out there, I can assure you of that.''
The problem here isn’t so much that Mudd and Moore are gone—Colts owner Jim Irsay will likely have them back as consultants in training camp.
The problem is that your organization’s face, perhaps the second-most popular Colt ever behind only Johnny Unitas, is so frustrated that he’s taking his grievances to the press.
Manning has never been one to pull punches or keep his feelings to himself. His now-famous shot across Mike Vanderjagt’s bow after the kicker criticized him in 2002 is evidence of that.
But Manning doesn’t run his mouth off whenever the cameras turn on.
When he has something that he thinks, as a team leader, needs to be said, he says it without mincing words.
To repeat: “I know we hired a couple of guys to come in, but these guys are learning. They’re not offering a lot of coaching out there, I can assure you of that.”
That is in no way what you want your franchise quarterback, one of the most noticeable faces in all of football and a future Hall-of-Famer, saying to anyone, much less the press. There’s a hierarchy that must be respected on every football team.
If a coach doesn’t have the respect of his owner or general manager, then that trickles down and others begin to lose confidence in that coach.
And if a coach doesn’t have the respect of his players—particularly one of Manning’s stature—then there is virtually no way he can win the respect of an entire offensive unit.
Manning had every right to say what he said. He felt something was wrong and that he needed to bring attention to that problem for the good of his team.
The Colts, as an organization, need to see this as a symptom and not the disease. Manning’s concerns and subsequent comments aren’t important issues here, the coaching situation is.
This needs to be a wake-up call, because it’s not too late to right this ship. But it will be soon.