With the start of the football season, I will be adding in some football posts to my blog. Being a Colts fan, I will be focusing the majority of these posts on Colts football. I’ll mark each of them in the title so those of you who are following my blog for the politics and social issues can ignore them.
I’ve figured out what people have been working on for decades. The Mayan calendar says that this year is the end of a world age and beginning of another. The scholars just misunderstood. The date was actually supposed to be August 12, 2012 and it was the end of a football age and the beginning of another.
With yesterday’s first preseason game against the Rams, the Colts have really started a new era in Indy. Of course, all eyes were on Andrew Luck, but I’m going to start with something that kind of bothers me.
The year 1998 was a big year for me. I graduated from high school and Peyton Manning was drafted by the Colts, changing professional football in Indiana as we know it. He brought us a Super Bowl championship and was a factor in the decision to allow Indy to host a Super Bowl. Now we are even likely to get another chance to host the big game. He is a legend and undoubtedly the greatest quarterback to play the game…very likely the greatest player ever.
When the decision about whether or not to let him go came up, it divided the fans like nothing I have ever seen. I saw so many people who wore his jersey and claimed to be Manning fans completely turn their backs on him when the prospect of a new, young quarterback became available. Statements like, “he’s getting old,” and “move on,” became common from many fans. These people completely forgot about what this man did for Indy, not just in football, but in charitable contributions and business as well. Do you not think the prestige of a first class professional football team with a legend at quarterback was a factor for businesses that came to Indy in the last 14 years?
With Luck’s performance yesterday I saw many people still dismissing Peyton as their new boy showed his chops. The complete lack of loyalty to a man who took football in Indy on his shoulders and carried it for 14 years makes me ill. I’m not saying that people should be downing the achievements of Luck or the Colts. But, we don’t have to dismiss Peyton to be fans of the Colts and Luck. Except for when he is playing against the Colts, or his victory would hurt the Colts, I will be cheering for Peyton Manning as if he was still a quarterback in my hometown. I am a Colts fan, I am a Luck fan, and I am still a Manning fan. No poor decision by Irsay or great performance by Luck will change that.
On Luck and the Colts:
As I just said, I am very much a fan of Andrew Luck. I do believe that he is the new face of football in Indy and that he will be able to build on the foundations that Peyton set over the last 14 years. I actually laughed yesterday when his first pass in the NFL went for a touchdown. It’s amazing that we happened to be in a position to take a quarterback who is probably the best player to come out of the draft since we took Peyton in 1998. It’s even more amazing that Luck began his career with the Colts in such a similar fashion to Peyton. Luck threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Donald Brown on his first play from scrimmage yesterday. Peyton threw a 48-yard pass to Marvin Harrison for a touchdown on his first play from scrimmage in the NFL. It’s a good omen for Colts fans.
What is even more impressive is what I saw from Luck, and the rest of the team in that game. Luck and the offense engineered 430 yards of total offense. They had 314 yards passing and 116 yards rushing. Yes, that’s over 100 yards rushing in Indy. The defense held the Rams to 215 total yards and only 3 points on a field goal that came after a long pass interference call. I saw the team blitzing on third down. I saw a one yard run for a touchdown (instead of a pass). I saw long drives that resulted in touchdowns. All of this from a team that was almost completely deconstructed and re-built in the offseason.
Andrew Luck almost looked like a seasoned quarterback in his first preseason game. His football acumen is undeniable. He was impressive as a rookie quarterback taking over for a legend. In fact, of his six incompletions, three were drops by the receivers and two were throwaways (which again show his intelligence). I will say that he owes Donald Brown and the rest of the starting offense a steak dinner for that first play for a touchdown as it was a short pass and a long run (of course, Peyton’s was similar).
It doesn’t escape me that this was a preseason game, and it was the Rams, not the Packers or the Patriots. Luck was under some pressure. I fully expect him to spend a fair amount of time staring at the lights from his back this season. But what an impressive start.
One thing really stood out to me in this game. The Colts finished it. We have become accustomed to watching the Colts lose preseason games. They always do pretty well when Peyton and the starters are in, but falter when they are replaced by the backups. Until last year, we were lucky that it never really became an issue during the season. However, last year, that weakness became the downfall of our team. Having strong starters with weak backup is okay if your starters never go down. When they do, you will fail miserably. I’m not talking about one or two guys who can step up when the starter goes down. I’m talking about the backups as a whole. When our backups went into previous preseason games, the other team crushed them. Most of the time, the other team also had their backups in the game.
When the starters were taken out of the game yesterday, it was almost as if the Colts didn’t miss a beat. The offense continued to score, the defense continued to stop them. The Colts ended up winning the preseason opener in impressive fashion. This showed that we actually have the beginnings of a real team. A team that can rest our starters and not worry that we’re going to throw a game away. Couple this with the fact that Luck was so impressive, and I’m beginning to get really excited about the future prospects for this team. I’m not saying I’m looking for the playoffs in the next year or two, but what I expected to be a two or three win season could easily shock me with a seven to nine win season. It’s even within the realm of possibility that we could see playoffs in the next couple of years.
There will be growing pains. There will be heartbreak and disappointment. There will be excitement and elation. There will be Colts football. Through it all we will live ColtStrong!