Unlike back-ups in the past, I think it's safe to say that Collins is not here to solely carry a clipboard for Peyton Manning. One does not unretire just so one can scribble notes on the sideline and breakdown film. A 38-year-old vet like Collins can do stuff like that from his couch.
Collins agreed to sign with Indianapolis because, in his mind, there is a strong likelihood he will play.
I personally believe that he came to Indy because his old buddies, Bill Polian (who drafted him in Carolina back in 1995) and Jim Caldwell (who was his QB coach at Penn State), told him he would play. But, that's speculation on my part.
With guys like Painter, the Colts never viewed him as a viable option to come in and help the team win a game. They might have publicly said they thought of him that way, but I don't buy that. Despite my frequent critiques of Bill Polian and his sons, I do not think they are so blind as to believe that Painter can come into a game and dissect a real NFL defense. Nothing on film shows he can, and no matter how much Reggie Wayne vouches for Painter, the Collins signing is all one needs to know when attempting to assess how the team truly values Painter.
So, on some level, this signing is an acknowledgment that Painter is no longer in the Colts plans, which makes me smile. Nothing against Painter. He's a nice guy, and he seems to be handling all this with class. But, the bottom line is winning football games, and Painter does not give the Colts much chance of doing that at quarterback.
However, the other message the Collins signing sends is that Peyton Manning will not play Week One against the Texans.
Sure, this could be an 'insurance policy' signing. But, for the last three years or so, Peyton has come out of the off-season recovering some kind of surgery. In 2008, it was his knee. Last year, it was his non-throwing shoulder. In both those instances, the Colts didn't feel the need to sign a back-up quarterback worth a damn. Now, two weeks before the start of the NFL regular season, you're telling me that the Colts have convinced a starting-caliber quarterback to unretire 'just in case?' Sorry, don't buy it.
Collins is in Indy because the front office is legitimately scared Peyton will not be ready for Houston. If anyone had suggested move of this kind to Colts brass back in July, it would have been dismissed. Remember, Bill Polian said he had 'little to no worry' about Peyton's injury back in May. Gonna say that the level of worry has reached the 'OMG WE'RE SCREWED' level.
As we posted yesterday, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported, via Adam Schefter on twitter:
@mortreport reporting Colts' braintrust does not believe Peyton Manning will be ready for regular-season opener in Houston. Manning hopeful.
For those that don't know, Mort has a direct line to Bill Polian. It was Mort that got Polians comments on Peyton's heath this past weekend. Bill Polian just doesn't talk to anyone, and Mortensen is not known as someone who asks tough questions. He's an information guy. His job is to gain exclusive access, not investigative reporting or anything like that. Whatever Bill Polian tells him, no matter how ridiculous, Mort will report it.
Thus, Mort's report on the uneasiness of the brain trust at West 56th Street likely comes from Bill Polian himself.
Obviously, if Peyton cannot play, his current streak of 208 straight game started would end, and if he is not ready to throw a football in practice (something he hasn't done since the lockout ended), he could start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list (or, P.U.P.). This means he would not be eligible to practice or play until after Week Six.
Again, as I said yesterday, I personally like that Collins is on the roster. He was an unappreciated player for the Titans for five years, and he was the best quarterback they've had since Steve McNair lead them into the post-season back in 2003. Collins was always a steady, reliable player there, and considering he had utter garbage to throw to (Bo Scaife, Justin Gage, and the immortal Brandon Jones), that he managed to toss 33 touchdowns to 29 INTs in 42 starts is worthy of respect.
Should he have to start Week One, he'll likely have Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, and Joseph Addai to toss the football to. That collection of talent is better than anything he ever had in Tennessee. Collins also has extensive knowledge of the AFC South. It's worth noting that he has struggled against the Texans. He's tossed 6 TDs to 9 INTs, completing just 53% of his passes.
For those expecting to see him play Friday night, sorry, but he's not likely to take snaps.
Still, overall, Collins gives the Colts a better chance to win should Peyton not play, and right now that is looking more and more like a certainty come Week One in Houston.