Many people wonder if the window on the Peyton Manning championship era is closing. Manning will be 33 when he reports to training camp for the 2009 season however just put up his third MVP season in 2008. In addition the Colts failed all season long at establishing a running game and have numerous questions with big free agents.
I for one have the opinion that the Colts will have their best season since the 14 wins they posted in 2005. Then again, that was the year they whiffed in the playoffs.
The Colts lose Tony Dungy, who in my opinion has not been with the Colts 100% for more than two seasons. While I respect Dungy as a coach and as a person, I wonder if his sometimes timid coaching was the best option for the high flying Colts. When he made out of character challenges and fourth down attempts in the playoffs, I knew he was hanging it up. They replace him with a solid but rather unknown coach in Jim Caldwell. While I can’t say he is better than Tony, I do feel as if it is an upgrade. Call it stale coaching or just a change in the man in charge, I think it will have a positive impact on the season of the Colts. In addition to JC, he immediately comes in and fires the DC, which again I like, and praise God, fires the special teams coordinator which has been piss poor for as long as I can remember. In come Larry Coyer who coached his last few seasons in Tampa Bay and before that was the DC for the “get after the quarterback” Denver Broncos. Also Ray Rychleski comes to Indy as special teams coordinator from the University of South Carolina.
Free agency is an area where the Colts rarely make a play. They often feel to draft players and develop them rather than to pay large salaries, especially on defense. They rarely ever go after another teams free agents. There are four big names of the Colts that will be the focus of this off season. Number 1 is Kelvin Hayden. He will be a very important piece in Larry Coyer’s puzzle. He’s quick and tall and will be the number 1 focus. It’s my fear the Colts will have to Franchise tag him making him a 10 million dollar man. The number 2 guy to me is Jeff Saturday. The Colts struggled last season when Jeff wasn’t snapping to Manning. They are like ying and yang together. Saturday isn’t old really but until they are 100% they have a good replacement in town, I’d hate to see Saturday leave. Next would come Dominic James. I think he is an essential compliment to the often injured Joe Addai. He’s not an expensive player and appreciates the opportunities that Indy have given him. Finally is Marvin Harrison. Marvin’s had an uncharacteristic brush with the law, and had it been anyone else, I’d expect the Colts to just release the player. However Harrison has his own place in Indianapolis history and isn’t a guy we could just cut. However he needs to rework a contract if he wants to remain in Indy. He costs too much to be unproductive as he was last season. Resign for a million a season or pack your bags for Philly.
The Colts draft late in 2009, which is a whole nother load of crap, so it will be hard to get an impact player without trading up. I’d love to see them invest in a large DT either in the draft or free agency but I won’t hold my breath.
There’s a lot to be optimistic at if you are a Colts fan. Change is a good thing and can often be more than the visible changes you originally see. And at least you don’t have to be like Deej and his sad Bears or Hunt and his overpaid and underperformed Cowboys.