Happy New Year. Here's to an excellent year for everyone, the Colts included.
It's been a whirlwind of news, speculation and rumors surrounding the Colts the last 24 hours. For the most part, the firing of Bill and Chris Polian was readily welcomed, perhaps even with cheers or a sigh of relief. One person who didn't take the announcement quite as well, was Peyton Manning.
Manning's reaction to news of Bill Polian's firing was rather honest and rather revealing.
Speaking to ESPN's Chris Mortensen Peyton Manning said,
"I was stunned, I was surprised, I was saddened and just disappointed that it all happened this way..."Bill and I and Chris Polian has been here the whole time, too, had a great ride with tremendous highs and it makes me very sad that this ends on such a negative note. "I knew when the Colts hired Bill with his track record in Buffalo and Carolina, that I would be very happy to be a part of an organization he ran. And that proved to be true. I knew he would hire the best coaches, provide the best possible surroundings, give me great teammates and he did that and I will be forever indebted to him."
Manning's statement shows that while many were probably on board with the Polian firing, he was not. Manning is a creature of habit, undoubtedly loyal and does not appreciate turmoil and turnover (The ironic thing is that many of Peyton's favorite long time coaches - Tom Moore, Gene Huey and Howard Mudd - were forced out by Chris Polian).
With a new GM still to be named and Jim Caldwell's fate still undetermined, these are uncertain times in Indiana. The move to get rid of the Polians suggests that there may be some indecision when it comes to the future of the quarterback position as well.
With no reason to doubt Jim Irsay, one would be hard pressed not to take the Colts owner at his word that should Manning be healthy come March, he will be an Indianapolis Colt.
That being said, with a new GM and a possible new head coach and the first pick in the draft secured, it's equally difficult to see the Colts willing to pass on Andrew Luck.
Can the two star quarterbacks co-exist? Probably. Is it best for the team? Maybe not.
The argument for keeping Manning and essentially trading the rights to Andrew Luck is that a Colts team with Peyton Manning will win 10+ games and challenge for the Super Bowl. The Colts would likely be gearing up for the Bengals this year with #18 behind center so the addition of two first round picks and another high second round draft choice would mean the Colts would once again have the talent to be considered elite.
The argument for taking Luck is that he is the quarterback of the future, the next cornerstone of the franchise and will guarantee the Colts will be at least somewhat relevant for the next decade.
Keeping Manning and drafting Luck falls somewhere between win now and prepare for the future. If the Colts draft Luck, they can't bolster there talent as much to help Manning but are still playing for the present. The Colts will likely make the playoffs but would still be a player or two short defensively (depending on who they resign) from being able to really contend. A few years down the road Luck would eventually take the reigns but would be left with a roster without such stalwarts as Wayne, Addai, Clark (assuming they are brought back at Peyton's request to begin with).
Obviously, if you are Peyton Manning, you want as many good players surrounding you as possible and passing on multiple draft picks by taking Luck doesn't help you accomplish such a goal.
Therefore was Manning speaking as a friend when asked about Polian? Was he being his typical loyal self? Or was there more? Was it a warning to Irsay to voice his displeasure and to perhaps even leave Caldwell alone and keep him on as head coach and to let Irsay know that Manning is still the sherif in town?
Clearly Manning is displeased. Then again, after this season, we all are. Whatever the case maybe, Jim Irsay and the new Colts front office will be faced with monumentally difficult decisions this offseason that could shape the face of the Colts franchise and determine if the Colts rebound and maintain their tradition of winning.