Most people consider 2012 as the start of a new era for the Indianapolis Colts. It was the first official year that Peyton Manning wasn’t on the roster, since 1998. However, the whole transition process actually started about two years ago. Once word started leaking out on just how many surgeries Manning really had on his neck, and it was clear that he wouldn’t be touching the field, most saw the writing on the wall.
There were solid arguments for keeping him and moving on, but ultimately the Colts opted to start over. The irony is, that only by virtue of Manning’s surgically repaired neck, were the Colts able to land Andrew Luck No. 1 overall in last year’s draft.
We all knew how good Luck supposedly was coming into the NFL, but the Colts weren’t projected to finish anywhere near the postseason. I figured they’d win a few more games than in 2011, and take a small step towards becoming the same old Colts we were used to, but no one saw 11-5 coming. On the backs of two talented rookies, a veteran receiver, and a solid defense, Indianapolis moved right back up the ladder into a fifth place finish in the AFC.
Nobody predicted the post-Manning era would go this well, but now with success, comes lofty expectations. Just making the playoffs will no longer be enough, especially in the wide-open AFC.
It’s remarkable to think how far this team has come in just two short years. They looked like a complete train wreck without Manning in 2011, but the Chuck Pagano-led Colts of 2012 showed the franchise was back after only a one-year hiatus. Now it will become a question of just how good this team can get. With a bunch of talented youth in place, the sky is no doubt the limit for Indianapolis.
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