After the lockout, many teams had high hopes for the 2011 football season; it was no different with the Indianapolis Colts. However, the Colts had more questions surrounding them than most.
During the offseason last year, their injury-free quarterback, Peyton Manning, had neck surgery. So, all the talk coming into the season was if Manning would be able to play and how effective would he be.
After the lockout, training camp and preseason started with the status of Manning still up in the air. A few weeks later, the season started and for the first time since 1998, the starting quarterback for the Colts was not Manning. The Colts went through three different quarterbacks this season. They started the season with Kerry Collins under center, moved on with Curtis Painter at quarterback, and ended the season with Dan Orlovsky leading the offense. Orlovsky was the only quarterback to achieve one or more wins this season, beating the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans in back to back weeks. After going 10-6 in 2010, the Colts finished 2-14 in 2011.
Could Manning mean this much to the Colts? The Colts averaged 15.2 points per game, which was close to half of what they were averaging with Manning as a starting quarterback. The running game was not there, just as it has not been there in the past; the only difference is the Colts had Manning make up for the rest. Reggie Wayne had 70 receptions with only one touchdown which came in a late, fourth-quarter win against the Texans. With Manning not playing, the Colts truly showed their weak points, and you could see just how important Manning is to the Colts.
The defense was just as bad as the offense. They struggled to keep games close, which is what needed to happen with a young, inexperienced quarterback. When the Colts had Dwight Freeney coming off the edge, he is a weapon they needed to use. However, when you are behind and the opposing offense is running the ball, the speedy rushers can just tee off on the quarterback. In the years past, Manning would get a good lead, and opposing teams would have to throw the ball to keep the game close; that did not happen this year.
In this horrible season, there were some good points. The Colts had a comeback win in Week 15 against the Texans with Wayne catching the game-winning touchdown. Freeney was the lone Colt selected to the Pro Bowl. In a season full of losing, those are a few things to build on.
The facts are there for the season: a 2-14 record, a 35-year-old quarterback with an unsure future, and a standout wide receiver that is a free agent this offseason. Due to having the worst record in the league, the Colts will have the number one pick in April’s draft, so the question is who do they select? With these questions there needs to be answers fast.
Colts owner Jim Irsay fired the Polians and hired Ryan Grigson to run the front office. There have already been so many changes throughout the team, and there are only more to come. With the Grigson hire, it begs the question of how long before Jim Cadwell will be around?
There are so many questions when it comes to these Colts, and only time will tell what will happen. The biggest question is with 35-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning and whether or not he will be healthy enough to play in the 2012 season.