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If I Were The Colts Gm...



The trick is to take a step back and remove emotion from the equation. Review the past ten seasons and what do we see? What worked? What hasn't worked?

Obviously the loss of Peyton Manning was huge, which exposed a significant weakness. We can't allow our defense to be based on a single player (no matter which side of the ball he plays on). Building a defense that's designed to "play with a lead" is unwise. Too many times we've seen the defense in the past seasons make tremendous stops on first and second down, only to let the opponent gain 10 or more yards on third down (this is a direct result in my opinion of allowing short yardage passes in a "play with a lead" focus).

We need to work on defense, both in the secondary and on the line (run prevention).

However, knowing Peyton (as I would were I the GM), I know if anyone can come back from this injury it's him. I would ignore the vocal crowd that says to release him, and not for emotional reasons. Peyton Manning is a weapon, both on the field and off. If 2010 was his last season as a player, I want him on my staff as a coach. He has an understanding of the game surpassed by few, if any. I would review my current coaching roster to determine the best spot, but there would be a spot, guaranteed.

Whether Peyton comes back or not, a true success of the team has been at the QB position. Perhaps it'll be a long time before we see another Peyton Manning, but Andrew Luck is clearly a fine young QB. Peyton is aging, a fact of life. I want Mr. Luck to tutor under Peyton (I'm thinking in the same style as Aaron Rogers did with Green Bay, and look how successful that was). So I talk with Mr. Luck and tell him he's the future of this team, but we want him to both stay healthy (unlike poor Sam Bradford) and learn the finesse of the game from a Jedi Master. While he may not start for some undetermined time, he'll benefit greatly from Peyton's tutilage, better health, and all-around time to season and grow. I shift Curtis to the practice squad. I'm not impressed, but we need someone around that knows the offensive playbook

Defense. Clearly we need to look for support in the secondary, so I look for a good corner prospect. I also look for a good D-line prospect. I liked Booger and what he did for stopping the run, so I'm looking for another big D-line tackle. (I'm a Nebraska grad, and sportsmanship and maturity issues aside, look at what Ndamukong Suh has done for Detroit...worst to, well not first, but in the running).

Offense. We had some problems with pass protection. We have some young guns that have shown true promise, so I talk with Ryan and nudge him to step up leadership behind Jeff and continue to move these guys along. My gut tells me next season will be better given a season under their belts.

I'm concerned, however, about the running game. We either don't open holes we need to, or we're not making it through holes that open. Joseph is a tremendous protection player and does catch dump-off passes, but (let's face it) his yardage this past season, and for the past several, is dismal. I like Donald, but we're still not really making the grade. I look to see if I can find the next coming of LT, Bush, or Sproles. We need a guy that can accelerate quickly but yet have good lateral movement. I'm looking for a Coke machine with a Corvette LS-1 engine...someone who is quick but has the mass to hit holes, shake tacklers, and inflict pain. Maybe this person doesn't exist and I'm dreaming, but I'd be looking. We've unearthed diamonds in the rough before.

I want to keep Reggie, and keep him happy. I also want Pierre and Austin. They've all produced, and produced well. I'm not happy with Gonzo at the moment, but I'm (personally) not sure whether that's due to injuries or some other issue. He's not risen to the level of his draft pick. So I keep him but put him on notice that he's on the bubble.

Special Teams. The kicking game was a bright spot this year. But the return game was its usual awful. I understand kick returns. But, punts... I liked seeing Pierre in for punt returns, but sadly that wasn't as effective as I'd like to see. I'm looking for the right player to catch the ball and actually advance it when caught. I'd consider a specialty player if a young guy was out there that perhaps didn't get drafted, or I could draft long for a good price.

Coaching. The elephant in the room is will we or won't we fire Jim. Jim's a nice guy and a great person, but from a purely business perspective, do we keep him? I'm not sure I like Fisher or Groden, so our options are somewhat limited if we do need a replacement. I think I give him one more year, but we have a frank discussion that team leadership starts with him, and we are results-oriented. I heard too many times from Jim (radio interviews, post game) that "we need to do better," or "we need to work harder." Well...and...? I'm waiting. I'm not happy to be waiting.

The bottom line is building a team isn't about one player. It's about the entire team. Review what when right, what went wrong (even very wrong), and make the necessary adjustments. Get those feelers out for the difference-making players that don't get the press the big guns get (I thought Bill was actually pretty good at that).

But change is coming. Change needs to come, is good, and should not be feared. Embrace the opportunity to make changes and usher in a new era of Colts greatness. (Oh, to have a chance to help usher it in...!)


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