ANDERSON, IN - JULY 29: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts works out during training camp at Anderson University on July 29, 2012 in Anderson, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Ryan Grigson says he has butterflies. I'll bet he does.
The first year G.M. and his first year coach (Chuck Pagano) will take their completely overhauled roster out on the field today for their first preseason game of 2012. Oh, and leading them will be a rookie quarterback drafted No. 1 overall, Andrew Luck.
Butterflies abound, I'm sure.
Today's preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams is the end of one journey and the beginning of another. The last football game we saw featuring the Colts, Bill Polian was still reigning terror over the organization. Jim Caldwell was his willing stooge, and the fate of Peyton Manning's professional career was very much in doubt. Today, Polian is no longer associated with the team. Caldwell was sent packing as well, and Manning is in Denver proving that reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. In Indianapolis, a strange and tumultuous offseason resulted in a complete turnover of the roster. 50 of the team's current 90 players have either an R, 1, or 2 next to their names in the "years experience" column. There are new defensive and offense systems in place.
No more no-huddle.
No more Tampa-2.
No more "take care of the little things" style catch phrases, which stopped having meaning the moment it was obvious that the problems facing the Indianapolis franchise were too big to require tiny fixes.
There is new blood in the franchise. New ideas. Yes, the owner is still the same; still a batsh*t crazy nutball who keeps stumbling all over himself. A clown who doesn't realize his shoes are too big to dance in. Yet, despite his buffoonish tactics, Jim Irsay has managed to do what few have the guts in this business to see through: A full and complete change within a franchise, top to bottom, in less than 8 months!
Today's game at 1:30 PM ET is the first real taste we fans will have of this "new era" Colts team. It's an important step for an owner and a franchise that has serious wounds to heal with the local community and fanbase. Questions still abound:
- Will Andrew Luck replace Peyton Manning?
- Is Chuck Pagano truly a head coach, or just another glorified assistant who is in over his head, ala Jim Caldwell?
- How will the changes affect veteran players?
- Will this team be improved over last year?
- Will more fans in Indianapolis care about the Broncos than they do about the Colts?
After an offseason of bitter silliness, I, for one, and very relieved we've made it to the games. Yes, they are phoney games. Preseason goofiness. However, unlike the previous 14 years, these games now have meaning. They have a true purpose. They are the first real answers to the questions listed above.
Let's enjoy them together.