INDIANAPOLIS IN - JANUARY 08: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts talks with head coach Jim Caldwell against the New York Jets during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8 2011 in Indianapolis Indiana. The Jets won 17-16. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Many of you have asked me, in emails and in the comments, what do YOU think the Colts should do in 2011? After spending much of 2010 being critical of Bill Polian, Jim Caldwell, and the Colts organization in general, it seems only fair that if one is critical that one should have some general sense as to what the solutions should be to the many problems facing the Colts.
Thus, some of you asking, 'OK smart guy, what would YOU do to fix this?'
Fair question. The answer I have for you right now is: I don't know.
Now, before you attack me for not having any clue, let me further explain that the reason I don't know is that none of us has any idea what kind of NFL we will have in 2011. I certainly have an idea of how the Colts should fix themselves using the same free agency-revenue sharing model the NFL utilized for the last 15 years or so. And I'll be honest in saying that, if that model were retained in 2011, the solution would involve purging the Polians from the front office, firing Jim Caldwell, and replacing all of them with fresh faces that can, hopefully, get Peyton one more ring before he rides off into the sunset.
I don't say this because I have some sort of personal hatred against Bill Polian. Just because I am critical of his decisions does not mean I hate the man. But, the reason I don't think he should continue in his capacity as president of the Colts that, in my opinion, he hasn't been very good at his job over the last four years.
But, this article isn't about why Polian should be fired. If anything, it's about how Polian and Caldwell won't be fired and the very legitimate reasons why they will be retained in 2011.
Put simply, we have no idea what kind of league we are going to have next year. With such an uncertain future ahead of us, why make it even more chaotic by dumping the team president, the personnel department, and the coaching staff?
Like many of you, I'm not happy with how Bill Polian, Chris Polian, Tom Telesco, and Jim Caldwell have run this ship the last two years. I've lost faith in Caldwell's ability to effectively manage games, and Bill Polian is simply not as good at drafting college players as he used to be.
But, to junk all that at a time when we could see a very dramatic shift in the NFL framework next season could be disastrous for this franchise.
Consider what is going on in these labor arguments:
- Owners are seemingly at each others throats over revenue sharing. Vultures like Jerry Jones want it gone because he is tired of subsidizing small market teams. Meanwhile, owners like Jim Irsay and the Rooney Family in Pittsburgh are fighting for revenue sharing because, without it, teams in Indianapolis and Green Bay simply cannot compete with markets like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
- Because revenue sharing might be going away, owners want the players to give up a slice of the pie they have enjoyed for over 15 years. This way, jerk-offs like Jones not only don't have to share revenue, but they also get more money from the TV contract pie.
- Naturally, the players are like, WTF? Um, no. We aren't giving up our share of revenue. The owners responded that they are now poor and losing money, even though all signs point to that being a load of crap.
- The other way for owners to gain more money is to increase the season to 18 games. Be doing this (and decreasing pre-season to only two games), the owners can take those two extra games and charge regular season prices (and regular season advertising time). Meanwhile, despite two additional games, the owners still want the players to take a pay cut. There is also, of course, the hypocrisy of owners wanting increased safety for the players while, at the same time, making them play more actual games.
- Because of the labor uncertainty, we have college stars like Andrew Luck at Stanford and Michael Floyd at Notre Dame staying in school an extra year. Make no mistake, the fog hovering over the NFL in 2011 absolutely factored into their decisions to stay in school.
- With no CBA in place for 2011, free agency will not happen until after the draft. Obviously, this is greatly affect what players certain teams pick.
- In 2011 there might be no salary floor or a salary cap. Basically, without a cap or a floor, coupled with a lack of revenue sharing, the NFL becomes as useless and dull as Major League Baseball and the NBA.
The wildcard in all this could be Peyton Manning's new contract. He will very likely be given the biggest chunk of cash ever for an NFL player. That he is soon-to-be 35 years of age will add even more intrigue into the mix because it will most certainly be the standard for which a 28-year-old Matt Ryan, or a 27-year-old Joe Flacco, will command when they become free agents a few years from now.
If there is no salary cap or revenue sharing, how can small market teams compete for the services of such players? How could they keep them when larger markets can afford them? Like in baseball, the small market clubs essentially become little more than farm teams for the bigger markets.
Because of all this insanity, it makes no sense for the Colts to junk their coaching and personnel staff at this time. This is why you aren't seeing more teams make a play for people like Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden. Owners, like Jerry Richardson in Carolina, are being cheap by hiring one-time assistants like Ron Rivera because they simply don't know what is going to happen in 2011.
Now, as is often the case in any labor dispute, things can change very quickly. When they do, and when we get some kind of framework for how the NFL will be going forward, it's at that time you will see movement for better coaching options. Until we know, it's best to stand pat and see what happens rather than make wholesale changes.