Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck signed a new six-year $140 million contract to stay with the team that drafted him in 2012. I believe you are worth whatever someone will pay you in the NFL. Thus, I say good for him. However, an all-too-familiar script, is unfolding Indianapolis and it does not end well.
The Colts have had a few different general managers over the last 25 years or so. However, Jim Irsay’s family has always been among the most visible and outspoken owners in the league. So, the nature of the decision-making has not changed much.
Colts management had Peyton Manning for 13 years including all but one of his peak years. They won one Super Bowl against Rex Grossman and the Bears in a rainstorm. The quarterback is the most important position in the game of football, and when you have one of the all-time greats for 13 years, only winning one Super Bowl is a massive disappointment.
For some reason, Manning takes all the heat, the truth is they had no defense. I can name three defenders on all of the Manning led Colts teams. Safety Bob Sanders, who was always hurt, and pass rushers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. It seemed like every playoff game Manning was ever in with the Colts, and the offense had to put up 35 points to win. Heck, even in the AFC championship game against the Patriots the year they won the Super Bowl, they were down 21-3 late in the first half.
Perhaps the greatest proof of just how inept Colts management can be is what the Broncos did with Manning in just four years. He was past his prime in three of them. They went to two Super Bowls and won one this past year despite Manning leading the league in interceptions and missing a large chunk of the season. So, let’s review
Manning with Colts: 13 years, two Super Bowl apperences, one win, 9-10 playoff record
Manning with Broncos: four years, two Super Bowl apperences, one win. 5-3 playoff record.
Do you really think those numbers can all be attributed to Manning? I don’t think so. They are more of a reflection of the team around him than anything else. Luck has done a great job in carrying this team out of the ashes of the Peyton Manning era. What most thought was a four or five year rebuild, was not rebuild it all. The Colts were playoff team in Luck’s rookie season.
However, ever since then Luck and the Colts have hit the same playoff glass ceiling as they often did when Manning was there. Manning’s biggest obstacle in Indianapolis was his own team’s defense. Luck’s problem is the entire roster, apart from him. They tried to resurrect the 2008 Pro Bowl roster by bringing in running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson to bolster the offense last season. This was all fine and dandy, but it is 2016. Also, the offensive line could not block anyone. They gave up over two sacks per game in use four different starting quarterbacks due to injuries. It does not matter what kind of “skill position” players you have, you are not going to win many games that way. Actually, it is a wonder Indianapolis managed to finish .500. To their credit, the Colts did draft four offensive lineman.
The way I see it, Colts management is on the verge of wasting/not maximizing the potential of another once in a generation quarterback talent. Luck did get the better of Manning in their head-to-head meetings. Despite what that may suggest, Luck’s talent level is a notch below Manning’s. I am not sure he can carry a franchise to the Super Bowl the way “The Sheriff” did in Indianapolis. Unless Luck’s new record-breaking contract includes a younger and better supporting cast, it will not lead to any Super Bowl rings.