The Indianapolis Colts endured a bittersweet Sunday. The Colts won their first game of the season, but also learned Peyton Manning is officially done for the 2011 season.
Manning suited up last week for the first time this year since undergoing three offseason neck surgeries, but the Colts’ coaching and training staff agreed he is not ready to play in an NFL game. With only two games left this season, Manning officially will not play a single snap in 2011.
Last week, Manning put on pads and threw to Colts receivers after a practice, but did not convince his coaches he is ready to return to action. Colts vice chairman Bill Polian confirmed Manning’s status, but would not elaborate on the team’s plans as far as his future is concerned.
“On Thursday, we met with the doctors and the rehabilitation folks, and the strength and conditioning folks and our training staff, and in that meeting we outlined where Peyton was and where he might be expected to go in the future,” Polian said. “With respect to that meeting, it was determined by the doctors that there was no chance he would play this year. His rehabilitation has not come far enough to make it prudent for him to step on the field in game action.”
The Colts have already committed publicly to taking Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall selection of the 2012 NFL draft. However, no one involved in the organization will comment on how that affects Manning’s status as the team’s starting quarterback in 2012.
It’s hard to say what the Colts should do in this situation. Obviously, Indy has to draft Luck; he’s the next Manning and an opportunity like this comes along maybe once in a millennium. This team went 14-2 two years ago and played in the Super Bowl. With a stud quarterback, this currently 1-13 unit could easily be a title-contending team once again.
Keeping both Manning and Luck would be ideal; the Colts could let the youngster learn from arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the sport before taking the reigns as the leader of the team. However, that would be an extremely expensive luxury and one that’s maybe impossibly from a financial standpoint. Manning not being able to play at all this year really puts the Colts in a tough situation. It will be interesting to see how the organization handles this dilemma.
Follow Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin