One thing I've sort of harped on this offseason is the difference between Colts fans and Peyton Manning fans. If you are a fan of Peyton's, and he was the reason you rooted for the horseshoe in Indianapolis, then this offseason has kind of sucked for you.
If you are a Colts fan, and you root for this team regardless of whether Peyton Manning or Dudley Dooright were the quarterback, then you have to love what has happened with this roster since the new league year started.
Let's go through the checklist of improvements, shall we:
- New front office actually dives into free agency, gets good talent at cheap prices
- Stronger emphasis on talent along offensive line
- Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne re-signed to cap-friendly deals
- Dwight Freeney retained
- Donnie Avery signed, adding speed to WR corps
- A trade for Drew Stanton, an actual backup quarterback with gameday experience
- Defensive line upgraded with Cory Redding signing
- Safety position upgraded with someone who is not historically injury prone
Impressive list of changes, right? Take note: None of these moves happen if Peyton Manning were still on the Colts roster after March 8th. None.
Now, I'm not saying that adding these players will put Indy into a Super Bowl in 2012. I'm just saying that these sorts of moves are exactly the ones people like us have been screaming for for years. It was obvious to anyone with even a micron of objectivity that players like Mike Pollak and Jerry Hughes were busts. Building solely through the draft was a meaningless endeavor if the front office kept busting first round picks.
Thus, free agency.
What also drove me a bit nuts was some Colts fans adopting the insanely ridiculous notion the free agency was TEH SATAN! There is nothing wrong with dipping into free agency to augment the roster, especially if the price is right. In the case of the Colts, players like Tom Zbikowski, Mike McGlynn, Samson Satele, Winston Justice, and Cory Redding were low risk, high reward signings.
And if the Colts had retained Manning and his cap-killing 2012 salary, none of these signings happen. Mathis and Wayne aren't likely to get resigned either, and Freeney is most certainly cut.
Thus, we have the line of demarcation, folks. The point where you decide whether you like the moves that were made, or you don't. The moment where you see that cutting Peyton Manning was in the best interests of the Colts team because, as you have often seen me write, the Colts are bigger than Peyton Manning. The franchise will go on, and thrive, without him.
If you think otherwise, if you feel the Colts were nothing without Manning, then you are simply not a Colts fan. You are a Manning fan. There's nothing wrong with that. Just don't go looking for a sympathetic voice here. We're about Colts football here. Not Manning football. We've moved on without him, and, for me, the moves we have made since terminating his contract have done much more to help this franchise than if Jim Irsay had followed his heart and kept No. 18.