With a lot of changes taking place in Indiana this offseason there are a lot of unknowns about the future of the Colts and of course Peyton Manning.
For the perspective of someone with deep knowledge of the organization I turned to longtime Colts scout Mike Butler who spent 19 seasons with the Colts including serving as Director of College Scouting from the Colts great run from 2000-2006. In a wide ranging interview, we talked about the future for Peyton, comparisons between Luck and Manning, Mike's greatest scouting accomplishments in Indy and his desire to again work for Jim Irsay.
The interview after the jump:
Do you think Peyton will play again?
I don't know, to be honest I am not privileged to any information on his recovery. It's a tough situation and Jim (Irsay) has a really tough decision ahead of him. I don't envy being in his shoes and having to make the call. Peyton is so important to the city. He helped restore the franchise, led the Colts to a Super Bowl and his success was instrumental in bringing this year's Super Bowl to Indy. I would hate to see him play anywhere else. So it will be a difficult decision for sure, but Jim will make the right call.
A lot has been said about the talent deficiency the Colts are facing. Can the Colts win with Peyton?
When Peyton is playing, I'd never count them out. He's one of the best the game has ever seen. It's a team sport, but Peyton is one of the few players in the league who can compensate for the deficiencies on both sides of the ball. The Colts would have likely been a playoff team this season.
What are some of the similarities between Luck and Manning coming into the League?
I haven't scouted or studied Luck a whole lot besides besides watching him play on T.V. but they both have a great concept of the offense, they both know the responsibilities and both understand where everybody else on the offense needs to be. Their ability to decipher play calls and read the defense is uncanny. Physically they are big, strong and can make every throw. It's hard to say that Luck is the next Manning, but he is as good a prospect that has come out in some time.
Switching to the defensive side of the ball... It looks like under new coach Chuck Pagnano the Colts may institute a 3-4 set. Do you think that's the right move and how will Freeney and Mathis react?
I am sure Mathis and Freeney can make the transition no problem. In fact, I would guess they will love it. Coming off the edge plays right into their strengths and I expect them to be just as productive if not more so.
Can you talk about the Colts drafting philosophy under Dungy? And how was it different from the rest of the league?
Tony told us to look for fast explosive guys. He wanted speed, explosiveness and production and was willing to sacrifice size. If they were big that was icing on the cake.
We (the Colts) didn't belong to a combine (note: combine is a scouting service that provided player's stats and measurables) so we had one of the league's bigger staffs of about 10 scouts total. We preferred regional staffs who knew an area really well and scouted the smaller schools as well. It helped us to find guys like Dominic Rhodes.
Because the Colts invested so much money in their star players like Manning, Wayne, Clark, Freeney etc, we were really relied upon to find quality depth at each position as the turnover was always so high. We needed guys that could come in and play right away. Overall we valued speed and intelligence. Being smart and fast are two qualities that you can't coach and were necessary for our team to be ready from day one.
What were some of your greatest finds?
Well the selection process is really a team effort but I guess a few that I am proud of and fought for would be Marvin Harrison and Tony Saragusa. In terms of Tony Saragusa, I kept fighting for him and even had to go against the personnel director at the time who had concerns over his dinged up knee he had coming out of college. I kept pushing and fought all the way and eventually he (the personnel director) told me "If you sign him he's on your head." He basically came in as a body for camp but made the roster and worked his way into the rotation.
I also fought hard for Marvin since I had seen him play as a regional scout since his freshman year. It was between Harrison and some receiver who went in the second round (note: Bobby Engram) and a lot of people in the organization were worried that Harrison was too small and frail and that the other guy (Engram) was a bigger more physical receiver. I'd watched Harrison for four years and new he was an unique talent that had an unbelievable ability to get open.
(Note: Ingram had 650 catches and 8 TDs compared to Harrison's 1,102 catches and 128 scores. Pretty good call I would say).
Lastly, should the Colts call, would you like to go back to Indy? and what do you think of Jim Irsay?
Absolutely. I'd go back in a heartbeat. I still bleed blue. I still have all my colts sweats and shorts and jackets in my closet and we still even have our house in Indy. The Colts were a great organization to work.
I love Jim. He grew up in the business, has his fingers on the pulse of not only the players and the coaches but also the city. He really cares about the organization and all his employees. Everyone enjoyed working for him and being a part of the team. He was a great boss to work for.