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Some 'Silver-Lining' Thoughts On Peyton Manning, Kerry Collins, And The 2011 Colts

So, what stage are you in?

I was in depression on Tuesday when pretty much every 'source' I had was telling me Peyton Manning would have some kind of procedure either this weekend or next week. Turns out Jon Michael Vincent was the one who got this thing correct. Peyton had surgery yesterday, but I don't think anyone was expecting 'spinal fusion' to part of the procedure.

But, it is what it is, and I'm now in the acceptance phase.

We've written about the injury so much I'm starting to think MY neck needs fusing. From what we know in reading and watching opinions from various doctors, the idea of Peyton Manning returning to play in 2011 is a pipe dream. He isn't taking snaps from under center in a game in 2011. Not happening. Don't hold onto that expectation because it is simply unrealistic.

Like Phil Wilson and many others have reported, this is a surgery that takes a minimum of three months to recover from. And that's being SUPER optimistic. There is also no guarantee that the nerve in his throwing arm will regenerate. If it does, his arm is obviously weak and needs lots of treatment.

So many questions. Very few answers.

Thus, let's just dismiss any talk of Peyton returning in 2011. I honestly don't understand why he hasn't been placed on IR. My guess is the Colts are afraid that, should they do this, fans will give up on the season and start selling their tickets to other fans for opposing teams. They pulled this nonsense with Marvin Harrison in 2007, and with Bob Sanders last year. It basically means the Colts are operating with a 52-man roster, not 53. It's dumb, but that's just me.

Despite the idiocy of keeping Peyton on the active roster, I do think there are some very positive 'silver-lining' type stories here surrounding the 'Manningless Colts' for 2011. Obviously, this team is not Super Bowl caliber. It isn't even playoff caliber right now. But, that doesn't mean there aren't stories worth following in relation to this team. After the jump, we discuss the first in series I will post today...

Is Jim Caldwell A Real Coach?

Entering his third year, the meme on Jim Caldwell is still the same: He is a cheap copy of Tony Dungy who lacks Dungy's overall ability to effectively lead men. Caldwell is also viewed as a stooge for Bill Polian, and when he is not acting as a lackey for the team's vice chairman, the perception is he doesn't coach the team. Peyton Manning does.

Again, these are the perceptions, fair or unfair (mostly fair, in my humble opinion).

With Peyton effectively done for 2011, this is Caldwell's opportunity to prove he is a real coach. Kerry Collins, the man replacing Peyton this season, is someone Jim Caldwell mentored at Penn State. They know each other very well. The Colts defense is coached by Caldwell's former mentor at Iowa, Larry Coyer. Longtime assistants Gene Huey, Howard Mudd and Tom Moore are gone, replaced with people Caldwell handpicked.

This is now Caldwell's team, not Dungy's on loan

Thus, how this team responds to the loss of Manning will definitely reflect on Caldwell. This is his moment to shine. It is now that true leaders stand up and prove themselves. Caldwell is already on thin ice with both the media (who can't stand him) and with fans (who think he's incompetent). If the Colts start losing, and losing badly, Caldwell will not be able to hide behind any excuses. If this team looks sloppy, unfocused, or quits in the face of adversity, Caldwell will be (rightly) blamed.

However, should this team rise up and surprise people, should it win some games no one expects them to, people will start to view Caldwell in a different light. I, for one, am interested to see what he will do to make this team competitive. My expectations are low, but my curiosity is high. Personally, I think Caldwell is coaching for his job this year. Another former Collins coach (Jeff Fisher) is sitting out there looking for a job in 2012, and we already know he likes the Colts.

Next up: Pressure On The Front Office.