Coltzilla is happy to present our readers with a caption contest for a $20 gift certificate to the newest Colts themed bar in Indianapolis, the Colts Grille. In fact, Colts Grille is the official restaurant of the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts Grille features 66 HD flat screen TVs, over 80 delicious menu items, 32 beers on draft, 32 bottled selections, 32 wines, and 32 unique specialty drinks & martinis. Check out Colts Grille at their website and if you’re going to be in town for a game this year, please participate. Participate even if you’re not because it’s fun.

If you would like to be eligible to win the caption contest you will need to visit and enter the your caption into the comments there.

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Colts fans continue to search for any sign pointing to the odds of star QB Peyton Manning returning to the field, this year, next year, or ever. This week, a few hints have leaked out that will further dampen the hopes of those who have been thinking #18 might still make it back this season.

Background: Manning’s most recent next surgery took place on Thursday, September 8. interviewed respected expert Dr. Wellington K. Hsu, an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Department of Neurological Surgery. Hsu indicated that most surgeons would allow Manning to begin training in 6-8 weeks (i.e., beginning as early as this coming Thursday). He would need 4-5 additional weeks to get back on the field. So the baseline was already set at 10 weeks minimum, with no indication that the process has accelerated.

Last Tuesday, after the Colts’ loss to Kansas City, Jim Irsay estimated that there is a less than 50/50 chance that Manning can return to play this year. After more promising comments in prior weeks, these words start to take a negative turn for fans.

Finally, in today’s Bill Polian Radio Show, which Brad Wells of Stampede Blue graciously retweets every week for those of us who can’t access the show, he quoted Polian as saying,

B Polian: This full 12 games this season which Curtis will play shall tell us a lot about his career in Indy

So, pulling out my abacus and sliding some discs around, carrying the 5…. Collins started the first 3 games, and Painter started the next 3. The comment that Painter will have 12 full games to play, minus the 3 he’s already started and played, gives us 9 games left for him start. There are only 10 more games left on the schedule. While not a perfect correlation, there is little doubting that Polian’s comments were the most recent indication that Painter, and only Painter, will be the Colts starting QB for 2011.

In fact if we don’t hear something in the next 3-4 weeks about the development of Manning’s triceps nerve, it will be difficult to project him to be ready for 2012.

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For Indianapolis Colts fans, the season started on its head. Fans and experts all around the league were so unconcerned about Manning missing a start or meaningful game-time due to injury that the only conversation was really about whether or not he would play long enough — enough seasons — to surpass Favre’s consecutive games record.

When Manning had neck surgery over the summer, few were really concerned that he would return to the field in time for the start of the season. As preseason reached Week 3 and Manning still had not spent meaningful time in pactice, though, fan confidence rattled.

When it was announced the Manning was undergoing spinal fusion surgery and that the team signed retired veteran Kerry Collins, most expected that Collins would be the best quarterback on the roster — even with such little time to prepare for the regular season. Instead, Collins played horribly and Curtis Painter was thrust into the starting role. Props to Reggie Wayne for calling it all from the start.

Fast forward to today. It seems relatively clear that it was a mistake to sign Kerry Collins, and it is fair to speculate about how the team’s record might be different if Painter got the call from Week One. There is also legitimate reason to believe that the Collins’ “concussion” is really an effort to save the veteran from embarrassment — and possibly the front office as well.

In order to prepare for an emergency, should Painter get injured during a game, the Colts brought in Dan Orlovsky — who spent training camp and preseason familiarizing himself with Indy’s offense. The shocker to this move is that the “injured” Collins and recovering Manning are also both still on the roster.

This means that that not only was the decision to bring in Collins was a bad one, his performance was so bad that — injury or no — bringing in another option to sit behind Painter was probably a good idea. Then, instead of accepting the mistake and cutting ties with Collins while the rest of the roster was dealing with injuries, the front office has chosen to take up four roster spots with quarterbacks.

The best thing the team could do is make a decision to place Manning on the injured reserve or release Collins. Frankly, retaining Collins under any circumstance makes little sense at this point.

Nonetheless, this back story of the 2011 quarterback quandary is growing less relevant to the team’s future. Now, the issue surrounds whether or not Manning will return healthy and capable of competing at an MVP level. If the team feels he can play at an elite level for the duration of his five-year contract, what other decisions will be made as the draft approaches?

Some will suggest that the best option is to take Andrew Luck if he is available, in what will likely be a top 3 draft pick. Others say that keeping Manning with confidence that he will compete for another four years at an MVP level makes using the team’s first selection on a quarterback as touted as Luck, only to sit him for four years, makes no sense.

If Curtis Painter continues to show that he is capable of developing — and he has improved in each of his first three games as the Colts starter — does it make sense to keep him around as the backup instead? Will there be another “Luck” by the time Manning’s career comes to a close?

One quarterback who is the recipient of a great deal of hype is Gunner Kiel, the top high school quarterback entering the NCAA. Kiel could be ready to enter the draft in three or four years and may give Indianapolis a shot to grab a superstar down the road. Or… he could not pan out and fail to live up to the hype that surrounds him now.

The fact the Kiel will play at Indiana University, just over an hour drive from Lucas Oil Stadium, will make scouting him very easy for Indy. Another reason to believe that plans to acquire Kiel could be in the works early on — if the team is interested.

Financially, it seems very difficult to justify carrying Manning’s large contract and paying top 3 money for his successor. Painter would be a far more cost-effective option at backup quarterback, and it would allow the team to address other positions that are beginning to deal with age concerns. He also has another year left on his current contract.

The Colts front office will be forced choose the team’s long-term fate when the 2011 season ends. If Andrew Luck is in the cards for the Colts, the only thing that makes any sense is to cut Manning — using the one-year exit clause written into the contract to free up the remainder of the money. Doing so will very likely weaken the team’s chances to get back to the Super Bowl in the next two or three years — meaning veterans like Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, and Dwight Freeney could have the bulk of their remaining years as elite players squandered.

If the team chooses to stick with Manning, trading out of the top pick is the only thing that makes sense — assuming there will be teams interested (there will be). Players like wide receiver Justin Blackmon, offensive tackle Matt Kalil, or defensive end Quinton Coples would be huge talent infusions to the 2012 roster and they could be available as late as picks 5-10.

For the first time since Peyton Manning joined the team in 1998 Indianapolis has an uncertain future at the most important offensive position in football. How the team handles navigates through this dilemma will significantly alter the face of the team, the sports culture Indianapolis, and will likely change Manning’s lasting legacy in NFL history books.

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The 2011 Indianapolis Colts continued a string of close games against opponents with varied talent levels and records. In each of these games they were unable to finish out and exit victorious.

It is time for fans to begin looking at what happens on the field that indicates future success for the franchise. A glaring example of this would be the development of quarterback Curtis Painter from a nervous boy in an impossible position (keeping an undefeated season alive against a top ranked defense) into a gritty young signal caller who follows through on throws in the face of pressure, has developed timing with his receivers, is able to avoid pressure and run to keep offensive drives alive, and is even able to operate the offense aggressively without a huddle.

There is absolutely no comparing Painter to 4-time MVP Peyton Manning. He is not, and will never be, as talented as his teammate and mentor, but he does not have to be in order to earn the confidence of the Colts fan base as the team’s current and future backup quarterback.

After struggling to start the 2011 campaign, tight end Dallas Clark showed signs of returning to his former self. The early game fumble did not set the right tone but he regained control, did not drop passes, and even repeated the kind of circus one-handed catches that make him a future member of the Colts Ring of Honor.

While Pierre Garcon did not continue his streak of long runs for a touchdown, he did continue to show sure-hands. This is the most important attribute of his game that he needs to develop consistency in — particularly with routine catches — if he hopes to earn a formidable contract to remain in Indianapolis.

Sure, Garcon did make a mistake when he chose to reach forward for extra yards in the fourth quarter and put the ball in position to be knocked out of his grasp to the ground. But while his aggressiveness cost the team an offensive possession and potentially the game, his ability to catch passes thrown his way with regularity will most often earn the team victories.

Theories born out of speculation by announcers during the game that Garcon attempted to lateral the pass back to an offensive lineman are baseless until Garcon or another Colts representative says otherwise. Nothing about Garcon’s actions suggested a “lateral attempt” and anyone who has watched him play should know that he has a habit of trying to get every last yard of each one of his possessions.

Running back Donald Brown has put together a second straight game with a promising performance. As Colts fans have hoped since he joined the team in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, he has shown the ability to be very dangerous when he is given a hole or can turn the corner around the edge. Add to this a clear improvement in the pass blocking phase of his game and there is at least some reason to think a light bulb may be flickering to life.

Even the linebackers, who have really started to come into their own, show signs of legitimacy as a unit. Pat Angerer has developed into a formidable starting middle linebacker, Philip Wheeler has morphed from a tweener without a starting spot into a player who is clearly comfortable fulfilling his schematic responsibilities, Kavell Conner shows flashes of brilliance stepping up against the run, and Ernie Sims is now getting an opportunity to contribute — which will allow the team to assess interest in retaining him for the future.

While not all of the progress is positive, in that there are other players who are proving themselves to be weak in the same areas they have previously, even that knowledge and assessment should help the front office determine which positions need addressed most in future team acquisitions and in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Ryan Diem’s efforts at right tackle were inferior to Quinn Ojinaka a week ago, even though Ojinaka is new to the team. Right guard Mike Pollak continues to show that he is not suited to play guard in the NFL, though his future on the roster may already be solidified at center as Jeff Saturday’s successor. Hopefully, the coaching staff will notice these performances and make appropriate adjustments moving forward.

A proper analysis of the coaching staff has had the chance to move to the forefront. On numerous occasions the defense has failed to schematically adjust when adjustments are proper — not a positive impression for coordinator Larry Coyer. The special teams units have been even more putrid than in previous years — suggesting that Ray Rychleski’s efforts to improve this phase of the game in Indianapolis are failing. There have been continual conservative decisions made by head coach Jim Caldwell at critical times in games that do not lend themselves to winning football.

While the team’s future my still be uncertain as final decisions have not been made with regard to on-field, front office, and coaching personnel moving forward, this glimpse at a Manning-less Colts team makes weaknesses easier to identify. Victory in 2011 has been absent, but progress toward an improved future for the Indianapolis Colts has not.

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Once again it seemed as though the Indianapolis Colts had a chance to win their first game. And they were close.

Just by a Nate Clements’ fingertip.

After a blocked field goal late in the game, the Colts were still only down 20-17. The defense was able to step up on the next drive, handing the ball back to the offense for a chance to get a victory. But just as bad as the blocked field goal was on the previous drive, the final possession was much worse.

Holding on to the ball was a problem throughout the game. It started with Dallas Clark, who fumbled. This would lead to an eleven-yard touchdown from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green to put Cincinnati up, 7-0.

But that was just the first quarter. This was to decide the game. And the outcome was decided after Painter threw a pass to Pierre Garcon, who fumbled; leading to a 35-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Carlos Dunlap to put Cincinnati up, 27-17, with a little over two minutes remaining.

After that, it was game over. Indianapolis was hopeless, and they fall to 0-6. Indy hasn’t won a game since January 2nd in a 23-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 17 of last season. Since that date, many things have changed with this franchise. The Colts have already matched the losses they have had since last season, when they finished 10-6.

Meanwhile, the Bengals improve to 4-2, showing signs of a playoff-contender, even though this was supposed to be a rebuilding year in the eyes of many NFL fans. The Bengals snapped a seven-game losing streak to Indy, their third straight week breaking a losing streak to a team. They didn’t get by the Colts easy in this victory, but they got the job done.

“That was nerve-racking,” Bengals receiver A.J. Green said. “I’m glad we have a bye week now. I need it for my heart.”

However, Indianapolis showed signs of victory in the game, but just like the last four games, hopes for a win were crushed in the fourth quarter.

After the Green touchdown, the Colts responded with a Donald Brown 18-yard touchdown, tying the game at seven. But a one-yard touchdown by Cedric Benson and a Mike Nugent field goal put Cincinnati in a commanding lead at 20-7 to end the third quarter.

Indianapolis would march back, as Curtis Painter faked a handoff and found Dallas Clark open for an amazing one-handed touchdown to put the Colts back in the game, 20-17.

After that, of course, came the blocked field goal. And then came the Dunlap touchdown. For a guy as big as Dunlap, it was one heck of a play by him. He looked like a running back when he took off with that ball.

“I have no clue what happened,” said Dunlap of the touchdown. “I don’t know how it came out, but I saw it coming down to me.”

It was the fifth straight game where the Colts had a chance at winning, but failed miserably in the fourth.

“Each game, we’re in it in the fourth quarter and something happens,” defensive back Jerraud Powers said. “Something dramatic happens.”

Painter was decent, throwing for 179 yards with a touchdown and a pick, going for a 79 rating. Dalton had 264 yards with a touchdown and a 111.5 rating.

Delone Carter had 45 rushing yards, averaging about three yards per carry. Brown had 35 yards off of five carries. In my opinion, he should have saw more action in the game. He was getting hot but had limited opportunities. The Bengals’ Benson, on the other hand, had 57 yards and a touchdown.

Reggie Wayne had five catches for 58 yards and Clark had six for 53 yards. After two solid games, Garcon was quiet, catching eight passes for 52 yards; and then sadly the fumble. Jerome Simpson played a solid game for Cincinnati, hauling in six passes for 101 yards. Green played great, too, with five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.

The Colts are still in the hunt for their first win of the season, and it’s going to be tough next week as they’ll be facing the New Orleans Saints. At this point it is more likely that game will turn out similar to the Colts Week One loss to the Houston Texans.

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Dwight Freeney has been a huge part of the Colts defense this year, as the Freeney-Mathis combination continues to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. The 0-5 record doesn’t get in their way, as they continue to try as hard as ever. And so far, both have been doing a solid job.

Indianapolis will be facing the Cincinnati Bengals today, as the dynamic duo looks to take control over rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. To the surprise of many, the Bengals have been pretty good this season and Dalton has been solid for a rookie.

With 98.5 sacks on his resume, Freeney could reach the 100-sack milestone.

If Freeney reaches the milestone, he’ll be the 26th player ever to get 100 sacks, in company with other great players like Derrick Thomas, John Randle, and Michael Strahan. It would be great for Indianapolis to see Freeney solidify himself among the greats, and for the Colts to get their first victory of the season.

“It means a lot to me because it’s someplace where a lot of guys haven’t been and it’s a pretty number,” Freeney told the Indianapolis Star. “It’s a three-digit (number) and 100 anything is good, almost, other than 100 strikeouts or 100 missed tackles.”

“Five hundred home runs for baseball, you’ve got 20-something guys that are on that list. That is kind of comparable with the sacks.”

It will be exciting how Freeney plays today.

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When the Indianapolis Colts lost to the Kansas City Chiefs at home Sunday, the final nail may have been driven into the coffin of the team’s 2011 season. Even if the team manages to win a few games without Peyton Manning –something they’re talented enough to do if they can find some consistency — there is very little chance the Colts will finish with more than three wins.

In a funny way, a Manning return in 2011 may only serve to hurt the team’s chances to develop for their future by pushing them down the draft board. The number one pick in the draft has long been considered a blessing and a curse but regardless of which direction the team chooses to go with Andrew Luck, or trading the pick out to a handful of teams who would be willing to give up a lot to have the opportunity to draft Luck, a higher pick should work in the team’s advantage.

Before Colts fans can really take an educated look at who the team should draft with a much higher pick (even if they trade out), some bookkeeping needs to be done regarding current players. Who is up for a new contract, and how much available cap space Indianapolis will have in 2012 before new contracts are offered?

To serve this effort, I took the time to update the Coltzilla salary cap page as best I could on Monday. Please feel free to check out the numbers and offer any insights, advice, or corrections if any of the information is incorrect. Tracking down contract specifics is rather difficult.

The following players, listed by position, are set to be unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2011 season:

Quarterback – Dan Orlovsky

Wide Receiver – Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez

Tight End – Jacob Tamme

Tackle – Michael Toudouze

Guard – Ryan Diem, Mike Pollak

Center – Jeff Saturday

Defensive End – Robert Mathis, Jamaal Anderson, Tyler Brayton

Defensive Tackle – Eric Foster

Linebacker – A.J. Edds, Ernie Sims, Philip Wheeler

Cornerback – Jacob Lacey

Safety – Stevie Brown

Needless to say, the 2012 Indianapolis Colts could have significant turnover. Wide receiver will probably look different — it is unlikely that Anthony Gonzalez will return to the team (Wayne may not). Defensive end may look different because the team may not be able to re-sign all three veteran players. If Eric Foster is able to return from his gruesome injury, he may not take the field again for the Colts. Jeff Saturday? How much would it take to keep him with the team and would it be worth it at this point in his career?

My initial estimates place the Colts $17 million under the cap in 2012. Mathis, Wayne, Garcon, and one of the veteran free agents brought in for 2011 would likely take up a big chunk (or all) of that cap space if they are re-signed.

The good news is that the team will likely be able to free up some more cap space by cutting Kerry Collins. Releasing his contract should clear between $9 and $10 million from the cap. The new CBA rules also give Indianapolis the freedom to borrow $1.5 million from a future year. With Dwight Freeney entering his $19.5 million final year of his contract, it may make some sense to do so. Of course, the team could choose to make restructuring Freeney’s contract (read extending) a priority to free up more space in 2012.

In any case, with some finesse the team could retain most of the players they really want to retain — Diem, Saturday, Lacey, and Gonzalez could be obvious write-offs due to age, injuries, or failure to perform. Another $10+ million in cap space could make it possible to keep Anderson, Brayton, Wheeler, Sims, and Tamme (assuming all are willing to accept reasonable deals and want to stay in Indianapolis).

One thing the team may not have the luxury of doing in 2012 is setting the bar for player salaries at their positions — a habit they have had in the past. Wayne would not be able to ask for a $6-8 million per year contract. Mathis wants his pay to better reflect the impact he has on the team but he won’t be able to demand $12-15 million like Dwight Freeney did.

In many ways, what the players are willing to accept could have a significant impact on who the team will be able to retain. If Wayne, Mathis, Garcon, Anderson, Brayton, Sims, Wheeler, and Foster (health permitting) are able to return, the 2012 Indianapolis Colts will be a talent rich group who should be projected as Super Bowl contenders out of the gate. If only half of those players are able to be retained due to cap limitations, Manning may be missing out on a roster that is more talented than he has had since the 2006 championship season.

Look forward for an in-depth discussion about personnel at each position as this series continues.

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Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay notified fans that the team signed defensive tackle Daniel Muir back to the team yesterday. In order to make room for the move, offensive tackle Mike Tepper was waived. Look for Tepper to land back on the practice squad in the next 24 hours.

This is a positive move for the defense as Muir is replacing Eric Foster in the rotation — and likely subbing for rookie Drake Nevis until he is ready to return. While Muir struggled in a nose tackle role in 2010, he has excelled at under tackle and has the experience in the Colts defense to be ready right away. Muir’s size should potentially help against runs up the middle as well.

If Muir can prove himself with his second chance in the Colts system, he may earn a new contract a rejuvenate his NFL career. Moving Tyler Brayton and Jamaal Anderson back outside to defensive end permanently can only have a positive impact for Indianapolis. Muir has never had the luxury of two solid run-stopping defensive ends playing on the line in 2009 and 2010.

At minimum he will be another positive voice in the locker room — he was always very well liked by his teammates. It is also another reason for fans to watch games and pull for a familiar player.

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Peyton Manning stood hopelessly on the sideline as the Indianapolis Colts’ 24-7 lead began to fade away in the battle with the Kansas City Chiefs. This game, like many others, could have turned out differently if the four-time MVP was under center. But he wasn’t.

It was Curtis Painter.

Painter did not do too bad, going 15-of-27 for 277 yards with two touchdowns and a 115.8 rating. But it wasn’t enough. There were a lot of holes, but it was mostly on defense.

“The offense was doing a great job in the first half, and we just kind of let down,” Colts safety Antoine Bethea said. “We blew this.”

First, there was the Colts rush defense. It just didn’t come prepared to play, even if the Chiefs were without star running back Jamaal Charles. They had Thomas Jones, and an unfamiliar face in Jackie Battle. Battle ran all over the Colts, rushing for 119 yards on 19 carries. Jones had his share with 55 yards on ten carries.

Then there was the pass defense. Matt Cassel started looking like his 2010-form that produced 27 touchdowns and led the Chiefs to a division title. He went 21-of-29 for 257 yards and four touchdowns, along with a 138.9 rating.

The Colts had trouble covering Kansas City’s top — Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston. Bowe made some ridiculous catches, including this circus one over Jacob Lacey to get the Chiefs to a 24-21 deficit.

Bowe had 128 yards off seven receptions, and two touchdowns. Speaking of Lacey, the young Indy cornerback struggled throughout the game. There were many times where he was called for pass-interference or allowed a huge play to the man he was assigned.

Meanwhile, Breaston’s elusiveness was too much for Indianapolis to handle as he put up 50 yards on four catches and caught touchdowns, including a diving touchdown reception that was the eventual game-winner.

“He is a guy I trust with all my heart — and the ball,” Cassel said of Bowe. “Then you get Steve Breaston, who continues to make so many plays. They compliment each other very well. If you’re going to double one, you can’t double the other.”

It has been since 1997 that the Colts have lost five straight games in a row. And the following off-season, they would go on to draft Peyton Manning. It’s 2011, and Andrew Luck is out there. As much as some hate it, the Colts are in the lead, with the Miami Dolphins, for the so-called “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes.

Painter started off the game with a six-yard touchdown to Garcon on a screen play. On the next drive, Adam Vinatieri would hit a 53-yard field goal to give Indy a 10-0 lead. Painter would then later find Garcon again, hooking up with the young receiver for a 67-yard touchdown to put Indianapolis up, 17-0, giving Painter his fourth career touchdown pass — all of his career touchdown passes have been to Garcon.

It all seemed good for Indy, who had a 24-7 lead after a Delone Carter touchdown run of three yards. But that’s when the Chiefs started clicking. They would go on to score 21 unanswered points with two Steve Breason touchdowns and the ridiculous, circus catch of Bowe.

“This is a big win, a step in the right direction,” Cassel said. “We kept our focus, and you could see the end result was very positive for us.”

Cassel would end the game with a key first down with about a minute remaining of regulation. With that, the Chiefs move to 2-3, while the Colts are still winless at 0-5.

“Take your hats off to them,” Colts receiver Reggie Wayne said. “They came out with a good game plan in the third quarter and they executed it well. I feel like we should be walking out of this game with a ‘W,’ but we didn’t get that done.”

Indianapolis will now have to face the Cincinnati Bengals, looking for their first victory of the season.

It’s going to be a long season, Colts fans. Let’s try to finish this season out and stick together!

We got this!

Editor’s Note:

A quote from Bill Polian on the post-game radio show says it all for the state of the Indianapolis Colts franchise at this point in the season.

“I’m baffled. Truthfully, it’s hard to envision with the kind of people we have upfront that we can be this porous in the secondary. It’s a dilemma honestly.”

Since when has Polian been so direct and honest about his football team? Polian is frustrated. Expect some changes in the future.

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During training camp, as rumors began stirring that Peyton Manning may not be ready for the Colts’ season-opener against the Houston Texans, the backup quarterbacks were Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter.

No offense to either player, but they weren’t the guys Colts fans wanted to count on. Orlovsky has had his share of mistakes, most notably when he was with the Detroit Lions a few years back and scrambled out of the red zone for a safety. Colts fans won’t ever forget Curtis Painter with his blunders, who was just plain awful in the last two games of the 2009 season, putting up a 9.8 rating with 83 yards and two picks versus the Bills and Jets.

With that, the Colts needed a backup they could truly count on. Players that were up for grabs seemed like Brett Favre, Kerry Collins, and even former backup Jim Sorgi. The Colts wound up going with Collins, talking the 38-year-old out of retirement. He only had about three weeks to prepare.

When the signing was announced, Collins wasn’t really in for a warm welcome. Well, at least from Reggie Wayne, who was on Team Painter.

Here is Wayne’s full quote, via the Associated Press:

“We don’t even know him, we ain’t vanilla, man, we ain’t no simple offense. So for him to can come in here and be the starter, I don’t see it. I think that’s a step back.

“Who says Kerry’s going to be the starter? Just because we bring him in doesn’t mean he’s the starter. He’s got to learn too, right? Unless they gave him a playbook months ago, he’s got to learn to.

“I don’t care who you are, I mean I’m not going to let anyone just come in here and just push someone [like Curtis Painter] aside like you’re that dog now, you know what I mean?”

As the Colts enter Week Five of the NFL season, Wayne has been all but right on Collins. The Colts took a major step back putting him ahead of Painter.

The Week Three Sunday night match-up against the Steelers is a perfect example of this. There were many times the Colts made major stops on defense, sometimes getting turnovers and ending up in Steelers’ territory. Every time Collins was behind center, Indianapolis did not score. They were just atrocious in the red zone under Collins.

Towards the second half of the game, Collins was ruled out due to a concussion. In came Curtis Painter. It was a big moment, because nobody knew what was going to come from him. It started off. . . okay, as Painter missed on a huge touchdown when he overthrew Pierre Garcon.

After that, Colts fans saw the 2009 Curtis Painter, as he fumbled — which was recovered by Troy Polamalu for a touchdown to put Pittsburgh up 20-13. Fans quickly wished Collins was back in the game. A Collins return wasn’t in the cards and the team gave the kid a chance to redeem himself. After all, there was still time and the Colts could still come back.

That’s when Painter started clicking, making big throws, and later led to a game-tying touchdown by Joseph Addai.

This brought questions to if Painter was the guy. The Colts had options, could target a player like David Garrard, but it was too late. The Colts had no choice: Painter was their guy for next week.

Painter wasn’t really that bad versus Pittsburgh. Even though it looked bad on paper, going five-of-eleven for 60 yards with a 62.7 rating, it was still better than Collins. Painter played about a third of the game and only had 30 yards less than Collins. He actually led the Colts to a touchdown on offense, not just field goals.

Against Tampa Bay, Painter excelled. He started clicking right from the first drive, connecting with receivers like Peyton Manning did. After the first drive, Indianapolis was up 3-0.

Later in the game, Painter would connect with Pierre Garcon for an 87-yard touchdown, longer than Manning has ever had in his career. He connected with Garcon again for a 60-yarder.

The Colts lost 24-17, but Painter played solid in his first NFL start. While he only completed 43-percent of his passes, he had 281 yards with two touchdowns and a 99.4 rating. Collins’ highest yard-total and rating was 197 yards and an 82.3 rating.

Indianapolis is aiming for their first win of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs. Painter started again.

This brings us to the question: should Curtis Painter be full-time starter over Collins?

There’s no question he should be. Painter has only played one-and-one-third of the games this season and already has just as many yards as Collins, who has played about two-and-two-thirds. He has already matched him in touchdowns and has beaten him in quarterback rating.

Painter has had far more success — like actually being able to score in the red zone. He can connect much better with his receivers. Really, Painter has all-around just been a better QB than Collins and, he has earned the right to become starter for the rest of the season (unless, you know, Peyton Manning comes back).

Painter needs to have a good game (he has so far) and hopefully he can lead Indianapolis for their first victory of the season.

Team Painter all the way, my friends.