First, let me start by saying that I am a displaced Colts fan living in San Diego. I grew up in Indianapolis and the Marine Corps has managed to keep me in Southern California for a long time now. I have been a Colts fan since I was old enough to know what a Colt was. I love our Colts, even when they were the proverbial Detroit Lions in the early 90’s, and I watch every single game whether I am here or in Afghanistan. I get home from work every day wanting only to read more things about our glorious team, good or bad. I want to say that I am getting a little disappointed in the Curtis Painter hating that I am seeing non-stop on site.
Let’s start by talking a little bit about our savior, Peyton Manning. It’s no secret that he is the greatest reason for the success we’ve had during the last decade. Our offense is completely built around him, our O-line is built to protect him, not block for our running backs, and our defense is built to keep the opposing team from scoring more than 30 points, in hopes that Peyton hangs 35-40 on them. Peyton Manning, in my opinion, will go down as the greatest quarterback in history when he stops playing. The man can see the game in a way that others can’t, that’s why he’s so good. We have been spoiled over the past decade having this man-beast playing the hardest position in any sport. We expect him to play every game, and I think he probably expects the same of himself. He would probably play with an eyeball hanging out of the socket, and win, if the team doctors would let him.
I can certainly understand the reason everyone is worried about him playing, and who will be the starting quarterback on game day, but I don’t believe that is any reason to just talk complete and total trash about other players on our team. Yes, we always want the best players playing, and we always want to be competitive, but let’s have a little bit of loyalty and respect as well. This is where we get to the Curtis Painter situation.
Curtis Painter has certainly not played well during the games he has played. Let’s first look at why he was drafted. The man was drafted to hold a clipboard and tell Peyton "that was a great TD." He knows, as well as everyone else, that the chance of him playing a meaningful game is slim to none. He is here to literally keep the team from forfeiting a game if Manning can’t play. Painter has played college football at a division I school, and was drafted by a team in the NFL, so he obviously understands football, yes not at the level of Manning, but he has the understanding, as well as the physical skills needed to play the game. He was never meant to be a starting quarterback. No one ever believed that he would be groomed for 10 years to play once Manning stops, that’s ridiculous.
So let’s look at the games he’s played in. He has played in games that have meant absolutely nothing to the team. And don’t try to say they did mean something, because the starters would play the whole game if they did. How is he supposed to build his confidence when he is only placed in meaningless games and until lately hasn’t received a good amount of 1st team reps at practice. This is no fault of Painter’s, its due to the success of Manning and the team. One of the first games he played in, against the Jet’s after we had locked up our playoff seed, the crowd proceeds to boo Painter because everyone wanted to see us go for the undefeated season. Unacceptable, absolutely disgusting. Why can’t we let our younger, inexperienced players get some playing time against first team defenses when there’s nothing on the line? The Patriots went undefeated a couple seasons ago, then lost in the Super Bowl, and I haven’t heard the season mentioned since.
The first two preseason games Painter played this year were not great. The timing was off; he was making bad reads, and wasn’t getting the ball out quick enough. Manning has a much quicker release and is able to read the defense much faster, which means the O-line knows how much time they need to keep players away from the quarterback. With Painter in, the O-line needs to hold for longer, which they haven’t been doing, and Painter needs to improve the timer in his head to get the ball out quicker. I believe he played better the 3rd game because he has received all the 1st team reps in practice as well as the majority of playing time in the games. It’s going to take some time to get the timing right when other teams are coming at you, trying to kill you. If you believe for one minute that Painter is afraid of the Colts D in practice, you are wrong; it’s a different speed during the game. Once the timing was down, he started to make some good throws. You also have to admit that a lot of players were also dropping passes that hit them in the hands. Everybody was talking trash that he kept staring down and throwing at Wayne, but he was catching the passes and was Painter’s security blanket. When he threw an excellent TD to Wayne, everyone jumped his case and said it was blown coverage and that’s the only reason he was able to make it. Well yeah, the coverage was blown; he actually looked off Reggie, which is what brought the safety down, and then tossed it to a wide open Wayne. You don’t think Peyton would have made that same throw? But I guess everyone would just attribute that to Peyton’s greatness, right? If I remember right, Peyton’s first season was 3-13, good thing we didn’t toss him after the preseason games.
I truly think we need to give Painter a chance during the regular season if Peyton isn’t available. Let’s be serious, even a veteran QB won’t put up the same numbers as Peyton, allowing us to when games when our defense is going to give up 20-30 points a game. I believe Curtis would put up better numbers than some of the starters around the league, like Alex Smith, David Garrard, or Jason Campbell. I would have much rather seen the front office go out and spend that 4 million they are paying Kerry Collins on some quality CB’s that can tackle and not give WR’s a 10 yard cushion on 3rd and 3’s. What would happen if Curtis played the first games and we went 0-3? Would all hope be lost? Would we be destined to finish 0-16? No, we all know that wouldn’t happen. I say we give him a chance and see what he can do. If he can’t hang with what other starters around the league, excluding the Bree’s, Rodger’s, and Brady’s of the NFL, then we can cut him loose, but I think he deserves a chance to have that kind of pressure, he hasn’t experienced it yet.
We are, and always have been a classy team with classy fans. We’re not a team of thugs and haters, like Oakland, nor should we as fans act like that. I think a lot of our success comes from the fact that we have players of good character, sure we have idiots that jump into canals naked, and have shootings at clubs they own, but we don’t have idiots changing their names to stupid foreign spellings of their number, or carrying loaded weapons in their sweatpants, or raping women in bathrooms. I’m pretty proud of that fact. Let’s act like classy fans and throw our support behind an athlete that definitely needs it. If this team’s fan base is a when at all costs type of fan base, then that’s not something I want to identify with. Thanks for reading, I know this was a little wordy, but it was bothering me and I wanted to get it out there. I probably have to watch the playoffs from Afghanistan this year, but trust me, I think we will end up being the first team to play a Super Bowl in their own city, beating Green Bay, 24-17. Ambitious, but totally possible.