The last time the Colts started 0-8 was the 1997 season, the year before Peyton Manning was drafted. Following that '97 season, Jim Irsay assumed control of the organization and had the head coach and top football executive sacked. This year, an 0-8 start (which includes two embarrassing loses to the Saints and Titans) has Jim Irsay taking to Twitter (something he didn't have in 1997) and saying:
Penalties,special teams,turnovers,lack of execution;BAD1rstHalf,put us in a hole/This type of performance isn't gonna cut it/BetterDays2come
NO EXCUSES,NO EXPLANATIONS...We're gonna get thru this n rise again/I told ColtFans we'd do great things in '97 when I became Owner,n WE did
We'll b back on top,keep the FAITH...we're a lot tougher than these bitter times..I told u 2 months ago,the next 18 months would b turbulent
The last one caught my attention because... well, because the tweet Irsay is referring to from two months ago made no mention of 'turbulent' times, let alone 0-8 records, overall football futility, team being laughing stock of the league, etc.
Here is what Irsay posted on Twitter back on September 12th, one day after the Colts embarrassing Week One loss to the Houston Texans:
There will b some shocking,dramatic,inspiring,unimaginable things happening n Coltsland the next 18 months...buckle up,stay faithful,BELIEVE
While I'm sure 'turbulent' could define the 'shocking' and 'unimaginable' things Irsay was soothsaying back in September, there isn't anything in there that suggests the Colts were going to have an 0-8 start to the 2011 season. Bill Polian certainly did not expect this season to spiral out of control as it did. If he did, why'd he give $4 million dollars to Kerry Collins, or draft offensive linemen Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana when he could have taken someone like TCU quarterback Andy Dalton?
I guess my point here is that Irsay is trying to say, 'Hey, I warned you this season would suck,' and I'm calling B.S. on that. Irsay kind of left out the part where, during these 18 months, a potential 0-16 season would get sandwiched in there.
I was tweeting about this last night, and with Irsay waffling now on Twitter, I guess it's a good chance to bring this up here: It's time to stop thinking of the Colts as an elite franchise and of Jim Irsay as an owner truly in control of it.
Elite teams, like the Patriots, Steelers, and Ravens, don't start seasons 0-8. And, as we have all seen, they are indeed elite teams, not a collection of nobodys propped up by a Superman at quarterback, as the Colts clearly are.
The last time the Patriots started anything close to 0-8 was in 1992, before Bob Kraft took over majority ownership of the team. The Steelers haven't started 0-8 in forever, and the closest to 0-8 they started was in 1968. They were 0-6 that year. Even the Cowboys, a team that has just one playoff victory since the Bill Clinton administration, haven't started 0-8 since 1989, the year Jerry Jones took over as owner. The Ravens have never started 0-8. Never.
Those are 'elite' franchises (at least, the AFC ones mentioned). They have a collection of talent where, should something happen to the QB, or any key player, the team can still win and be competitive. Indianapolis isn't in that category, and we as fans need to realistically accept the fact that the Colts are no longer 'elite.'
Maybe they never were.
Irsay says in his tweets last night that 'I told ColtFans we'd do great things in '97 when I became Owner,n WE did.' Again, I don't get this 'we' bullcrap. Who is 'we'? 'We' didn't win all those football games. 'We' didn't bring Indy the Lombardi Trophy.
Peyton Manning did.
If anything, this season proved to everyone (skeptic and fanatic alike) that the Colts were always a mishmash of inferior talent made to look better because they played on the same team as the greatest QB in the universe. It's the closest equivalent to the NBA that the NFL can get. One guy made a bunch of scrubs look good, and without him, they have been exposed.
So, again, what's this 'we' crap, Mr. Irsay?
You didn't do anything. I looks as if Bill Polian didn't do anything. All that was done was the team drafted Peyton Manning with the No. 1 overall pick (a no-brainer then as it is today), and then he just did his thing. Now, maybe I'm just frustrated. Maybe this 0-8 start is just getting to me. Maybe I'm sick of local media in Indianapolis falling all over themselves to protect Jeff Saturday despite his comments last week being utterly ridiculous. Maybe all these things have me seeing bright red when I should have a broader, rosier perspective.
But, I don't see any 'we' in the accomplishments of the Colts since '97, Mr. Irsay.
I see Peyton Manning propping up a bunch of undeserving scrubs, and I see a period of time lost and wasted. From 1999-2010, the Colts won a ton of regular season games, division titles, and made the playoffs seemingly every year. They were also one-and-done in the playoffs during that stretch an astounding seven times, and only won one Super Bowl despite seven straight seasons of twelve or more wins each year. Greatness in the NFL is defined by championships. No one cares how many games or division titles you win. Losers count up wins in from September to December and consider such things an 'accomplishment.'
In the end, it's about the rings. Nothing else matters when measuring the greatness of a franchise.
The Colts have just one trophy. Meanwhile, we've seen the truly elite teams in New England and Pittsburgh lose their QBs during seasons and continue to win games. 2011 has pulled off the Scoopy-Doo mask from the Colts franchise and exposed them as frauds. This was never an 'elite' team. It was a backwater organization made to look elite because they had the best QB in the world on it.
Without him, this franchise is the worst in football, no different now than they were in '97 before they got him. Sad when you think about from that perspective, but, during these 'turbulent' times, that seems to be the truth of it.