Things Can Change Quickly in the NFL

FOXBORO, MA - FILE: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts watches the action in the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. It was reported that Peyton Manning will be released from his contract with the Indianapolis Colts and is expected to make an announcement tomorrow at a news conference in Indianapolis March 6, 2012. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Today we were reminded just how quickly things can change in the National Football League. Mike Chappell wrote this morning about how a year ago today, we thought Peyton Manning was a Colt for life. He signed a five year deal that everyone figured would take him right up to retirement, or at least another deal with Indianapolis. A year ago today, the Colts were among the super bowl favorites, but their window was closing.

Now, just one year later, the Colts window is being opened, but by a different quarterback. And Peyton Manning is quarterbacking the Denver Broncos, who ever since they signed the future hall of famer have had super bowl hopes.

In just one year, the Colts cleaned house. Because of one injury (and the lack of preparation for it), the Colts fired their general manager (quite possibly a future hall of famer), their head coach, and many of their most popular players. My, how quickly things can change in the NFL. From playoff team to worst in the league, in one year.

But as I was contemplating how quickly the collapse of the Indianapolis Colts came, I also thought about how quickly things can change for the better. The 2008 Miami Dolphins went 11-5, one year after finishing 1-15. Or what about the 1999 St. Louis Rams, who finished the year 13-3 and won the super bowl a year after going 4-12. That same year, in Indianapolis, a young QB named Peyton Manning led the Colts to a 10 win turnaround, from 3-13 in 1998 to 13-3 in 1999. The 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers went 15-1, one year after going 6-10. There are many stories of teams making incredible turnarounds very quickly. The one thing that links many of them is a new quarterback. For a turnaround to happen, the single most important ingredient is a quarterback.

The Colts have that quarterback. Now, I'm not saying the 2012 Colts will make an incredible turnaround like these teams did. But I was reminded about how quickly change can happen in this crazy league we follow. I have been saying all along that in three years the Colts could be contending. But it could be less. It could be in one year. Because, as I was reminded today, the one year anniversary of Peyton Manning's contract for life with the Colts, change can happen quickly in the National Football League.

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