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In two days, the Indianapolis Colts take the field in their first game against real competition. Even though it is preseason, it is still the maiden event for what has become a completely revamped franchise. One would have to draw some very sketchy comparisons to find a team historically that has changed so many aspects in just one off-season. In review, this franchise lost it's franchise QB to injury and that loss was followed by poor team play, questionable coaching decisions, head scratching coordinator approaches, and overall lack of team confidence. What was a franchise that was feared, was now a team that was almost a lock to get the next years first pick before the season was half over. In short, it was like a plane running out of fuel and the descent gained moment as it plummeted towards the #32 spot in the league. No disrespect to those players who still fought their tail off all season. Far from it. They were simply not put into a position where they could succeed despite the circumstances. Fast forward to the present, we now stand on the edge of a new era. Gone are the gushing articles of praise, heaped weekly upon the Colts as result of their undeniable ability to win and win often. Twelve wins was always a possibility, tens wins was likely, and 8 wins was a given that bordered on ridiculousness when questioned. Gone is the media attention as a whole. What we have now are questions, but there is excitement around the questions. How will the team play? Will we run the football? Will we be tough on defense? Will our coach be animated? Will we do anything like we did before...or will we have a whole new identity? Just the notion that these questions, and many many more just like it are about to be answered, has the beginning of this new era busting with potential, possibilities, and hope. As we talk about what could happen, express concern about how long it might take to get there, and shamelessly heap vast expectations upon this new Colt era to help us get past our own disappointments, this writer hopes that we acknowledge the challenges that this franchise has had to emerge from, and move on. I see article after article about how Andrew Luck is expected to replace Mr. Manning, or how this team needs or wants to erase the ugliness of the past season. I could not disagree more. Like a reawakening of the soul.....player, coach, owner, and fan alike have had their mental framework reset about who the Colts are. The choice belongs to each and every one of us. Tabula Rasa. Blank slate. We can see the success of the past as a reminder of what we no longer have. We can see any failure or challenge that the team faces this season as an example of what this team no longer is. We can also view those challenges and failures through a filter of excitement, hope, and fierce pride, as one who has emerged from the fire. This team, this year, can be the start of the best Colt era ever.....and it can exist, without diminishing or lessening a single accomplishment that any Colt player or team has given their fans in the past. And it can exist without the responsibility of replacing or erasing anything from the past. They are quite simply, two different eras. Bon voyage, Colts. May the journey be a memorable one.
This upcoming offseason is really important which is why I hope the Colts find the right GM for the job. It is probably the most important offseason since the '97 offseason when Manning was drafted. The Colts now have to make a decision on him and many other veterans who's contracts are expiring. I recently have been thinking through scenarios about what the major decisions could cause. 1. Manning's future: One of the decisions the Colts could make is to keep him do nothing about his contract. But there are still uncertainties with that choice. What about FA's? Are we going to continue to base the team around him even after this season's results? I don't think so, what could they do to sign some FA's and still keep Manning? The most welcome way is to restructure Manning's contract to make it more cap friendly but what about other options? Another option that I recently thought of is they could resign the younger guys and maybe sign one veteran, they still would be building the team for the future but they would lose much of the veteran leadership. Of course the Colts could let him go, he would probably retire and the colts would draft Luck but some problems and uncertainties still arise from that scenario. Who has ever seen Luck play in an NFL game.... No one has so how do we know how that will turn out? Some names come to mind (Ryan Leaf, Jamarcus Russell, Vince Young) and if that is true we pretty much sacrificed that season and maybe more after that. But there are still some positives that come out of that scenario, more money to resign and sign FA's, and it creates a team ready for the future. I personally think Manning will stay on the team. 2. Head Coaching Position This is obviously just as big of a decision as #1. One scenario is that the Colts fire Caldwell and hire a veteran coach like Fisher or Cower. The only concern is that they hire the wrong one for the job. There are quite a few of benefits. They could build a strong overall team, they could also focus on specific needs(which could be good or bad) I do believe this is the way to go, not that Caldwell did a poor job he just didn't do a great job. They could also keep Caldwell, but that does carry a lot of uncertainty. We have seen what injuries has done the past 2 years will that happen again? Maybe we don't have injury problems and win a Super Bowl? It just carries too much unknown effects. I personally think we should hire Jeff Fisher. Well I only talked about two topics but there are many more, how will the Colts build for the future? What will be their focus on how to prepare for the future? Who will be the new GM? The list goes on and on. Which just proves how important the next couple months are.
Replacing Bill Polian, a legend in the NFL, an icon. Tough challenge, firstly because it's been "his" team for 14 years, and i won't be easy making it "your" team. First off; the HC dilemma: Word on Twitter(and everywhere else) is that the players worked their butts off for Caldwell. Problem is, his game management leaves much to desire. However, I would do my best convincing him to be reassigned to his former job as a QB-coach, as P-Money and Caldwell has a great relationship. I would look for a defensive HC, Jeff Fisher will be coveted by a lot of teams, and he might be gone by the time you're hired as GM. Bill Cowher is another option, as P-Money clearly is an established QB. The outside pick, could be Rob Ryan from the Cowboys. Assuming Jeff Fisher is available, he would be my pick. He knows the team, the staff and his philosophy matches the roster. A change of scheme would be a nightmare, due to the player material. He would have his hands free to get the coordinators he wants, but i think a person like Mike Murphy would be allowed to keep his job as DC. He impressed late in the season, and he has huge knowledge of the cover-2. He would be a great guy to have around, at least in a transition period, as Fisher's scheme is similar in many ways, but the small o-line will be new to him, and an experienced hand would be a good thing. Clyde Christensen would be replaced. His playcalling this year has not been satisfactory. Problem is, he has strong ties to P-Money. I think i would be a little unorthodox. A name like Mike Martz, would be a nice addition in my opinion. Martz' pass heavy offense would match the skills of P-Money perfectly, and could become "the greatest show on turf" v2.0. Second big decision; The Peyton Manning situation: Actually, this is Jim Irsay's decision. I would keep him, this would be a great cornerstone on at team with a former DC as HC. P-Money can take care of the offense with Martz, and Fisher can start rebuilding the offense, making sure the next couple of seasons will be better than the one we just left. I truly think it's the right decision, and as Irsay have strong ties to him, i would be surprised if he leaves. Of course, this is assuming his health has been cleared by the medical staff. If he can't play 100%, he should be cut. Many propose a trade, but he has a 28 mil bonus march 8. so the decision has to be made before that, and the league doesn't allow trades until march 13. If he were to be cut or traded after march 8., it would be a cap suicide. "#Pleasepeytonplay" Third big decision; The Draft and the #1 overall Pick: I truly believe the right thing to do, is trading the pick to the highest bidder. According to Adam Schefter a trade would be worth 3 1st rounders and 2 2nd rounders. On top of that, the word on the street is that The Browns aren't sold on Colt McCoy, and could have luck on their radar. Again, this is Irsay's decision, but i believe it is the right choice. Assuming this trade goes through, it would give us 2 1st rounders and two 2nd rounders this year. This would be a huge boost to Fisher's new defense, and replace some of the FA's on offense. I won't put any names up, I'm not that experienced in the scouting world.(although as The Colts GM, i actually should be) next big decisions; Free Agency: I won't make a huge deal of this, as a lot of it depends on the draft. No matter what, i would do my best to keep Robert Mathis an Pierre Garcon. Payers like Jeff Saturday, Anthony Gonzalez, and Reggie Wayne, would be evaluated and compared to drafted players, and may be retained if the price is right. And then, your first season as the Colts GM would begin. If they did like i say, they'd probably go 0-16 but hey, this is just one amateur colts fans opinion.