Wow, if feels good to have that win feeling again. We had gotten to used to it, I think, that winning was good, and losing was terrible. I think for the most of us, that feeling has done a 180. I'm reminded why I've stuck by these Colts since I was a kid (mid 1970's).
If you watched the game on NFL network, you know that Jim Irsay stopped upstairs to talk about his Colts, and he provided some pretty definitive information on where this franchise is going. Whether you like what he said, or not, he didn't come across as a drugged up, spineless owner who was at the beck and call of the Polians. Here are some tidbits of information he let spill, after the jump:
On Peyton Manning:
"I think the situation is if he's back and he's healthy, I see him coming back and playing here, I think the hope is that his health is in the position where he could return again. That remains uncertain and that's something that's first and foremost on my mind." In other words, if there's any chance he can play, he coming back. And I think that makes sense and will be good for the franchise. As others have pointed out, the Irsay's made mistakes when they let Unitas and Elway go. Those folks were the faces of the franchise. Manning certainly is a Colt and must play here if he can deliver wins. It's not just his ability, but his personality, leadership and sportsmanship that brings positive things to this team and to Indianapolis.
Of course the second concern is the cost to keep Manning, and whether that will inhibit the team from winning. First, if you've watched Manning throughout this season, standing on the sidelines, you know he's a competitor. He doesn't just want to play, he wants to WIN. His head looked like it would explode a few times last night on the sideline. When that crazy pass bounced around and was caught by the Texans, he fell to his knees and then fell over. This guy clearly wants to play, and to WIN. He's already restructured his contract once. He will do it again to help Irsay get a good team around him. When asked about the financial side, Jim's thoughts were:
"I don't see that being an issue," Irsay said. "I paid him $26 million this season and he didn't play and I knew it was an iffy situation. If he's healthy and he can play, he'll be back here."
Irsay went on to say whatever position they end up with in the draft, they will pick the best person available. Those of us who don't think the Polians are "the second coming of Satan", and the rest of the NFL, know that Bill has done a good job with picks, having to pick so low in the draft. With this opportunity to pick first, second or third, we're going to get some quality, franchise folks. We also know that the need for a back QB is a big one, secondarily a need to a successor. Orlovsky, though he's improved, is not our long term guy. But he could be our short term one next year. But beyond Andrew Luck, there are other QB's coming out next year that would fit in nicely.
Irsay wrapped up the conversation with an observation that the whole team needs to be reevaluated. There are plenty of folks who are important to the team, but older. There are folks who are in their last year of their contract. Irsay suggested that he would sit down with the coaches and Polian and review the entire team. There are certainly folks who are somewhat long in the tooth, but a few contract extensions might be in order rather than a wholesale gut. I think what they'll do is based on the quality and position of folks we get in the draft.
And here's one that will raise the ire of a certain colored Shoe. If you are wondering whether Caldwell will be back, while the prospects may be iffy, and while he may not be back as the coach but maybe as a coordinator, Irsay was pretty clear that he liked continuity. I'll reserve my comments about Caldwell because I think he brings just enough to this team without upsetting the chemistry. We know that teams like the Steelers have only had 3 coaches in 30 years. Cowher had up and down times. Mike Tomlin has had good and bad times. Irsay summed it up as:
"I'm concerned we came out and lost 13 games, We certainly were looking to do better. In terms of evaluating things, I think you have to look at the Texans. Last year, their coach was under great fire, Bob McNair stuck with him and now he's very popular in Houston. So when the season ends, I will evaluate everything. You know I love continuity.As for me, I say the Colts need to destroy the Jags. You have to send a message. If we were furious that they sat the last two games of the potentially perfect system, then we need to be furious if the purposely tank. I don't believe the team every purposely tanked any games. I'm sure, like most carbon-based-life-forms, these guys have feelings. I'm sure they went into some games feeling lower than low, especially with fans claiming they were purposely playing poorly. But I don't think they ever threw in the towel. Let's torch the Jags and remind them of what's to come next year.
And when you think of the little nuggets of joy we have in Angerer, Brown, Bethea, Castonzo, Collie, Conner, Garcon, Eldridge, Freeney, Tamme, Clark (maybe), Johnson, Lefeged, Mathis, Freeney, Moala, Nevis, Wheeler, and so on, there's a LOT of good folks on this team. Shore up a few things, clean out some coaches, and we're in the SuperBowl next year.