If I were to ask you which quarterback the following statistics – 2,404 passing yards, 300.5 passing yards per game and leading their team to a 5-3 record – belong to: four-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl winner Peyton Manning, or 2012 number-one overall draft pick Andrew Luck, who would you say? The answer is both. Yes, that’s right, both the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback for the Denver Broncos and the fresh face on the scene behind center for the Indianapolis Colts have identical numbers in those three categories mid-way through the 2012 campaign, which leads me to believe that Colts owner Jim Irsay made the right decision.
Granted, Manning has superior numbers in the remainder of the quarterback statistical categories between the two, including touchdown passes (20 to Luck’s 10), interceptions (six to Luck’s eight), completion percentage (69.5% to Luck’s 56.5%), and quarterback rating (108.6 to Luck’s 79); but hey, this is still Luck’s rookie season after all, and they are tied in what matters most, the win column.
Luck has plenty of time to catch up to Manning in those other categories, but what he has shown the world in the process of just eight NFL games is that the Colts made the right decision. When word first came out that the Colts were releasing Manning in favor of drafting Luck, instead of having both on the roster and allowing Luck to learn from Manning while sitting behind him on the bench, many including myself simply couldn’t believe it; but, Irsay and his brain trust obviously knew something that we didn’t.
Now take into consideration that this is coming from a supporter of Manning’s historic career, and someone who has even gone on record seconding ESPN’s Skip Bayless‘ claim that Manning is in fact the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history.
Stating that now, even looking at everything considered after eight games, the Colts made the right decision.
Sure, a few of the Colts victories this season can be attributed to the fact that the are playing emotionally-charged football, due to the fact that their head coach Chuck Pagano is battling with leukemia; but this is a pretty decent looking football team – much better than the team that went just 2-14 a season ago with Manning not taking a single snap that year.
Not to mention now Luck has had his rookie season under his belt, he should only continue to thrive for the next decade or so barring any major injuries. Imagine if Luck would have had to sit behind Manning this season and maybe a few more after? Sure, Luck would have learned a thing (or a hundred) from Manning, but there is also a strong possibility that Luck wouldn’t have wanted to re-sign with the Colts following his rookie deal expiring due to the fact that the Colts didn’t show confidence in him initially. Or, it’s even possible that his confidence could’ve been damaged due to not receiving any significant playing time. These are definitely major factors to consider, and it’s possible that Irsay and company did so before making the series of decisions they did that has caused things to unfold in the way they have to prompt myself to writing this article.
There is still plenty of time left in the season, and there is no telling if the Colts will finish up strong and even possibly clinch a playoff berth (as they are currently on pace to do); but even if they go on to lose their remaining games of the year and finish 5-11, releasing Manning and handing the keys to the franchise over to Luck was still the right decision to make – not only for this season, but for the future of the franchise. Just imagine the storylines that would arise if Luck can lead them to the playoffs, and the Colts are scheduled to meet Manning and the Broncos in the opening round of the postseason; one can only hope and dream.