The Colts organization, which began in Baltimore and moved to Indianapolis in1984, has a rich history of great NFL quarterbacks. When in Baltimore, Johnny Unitas was the best of his era. Peyton Manning joined the Indianapolis Colts in 1998, and during his 14 years of service won a Super Bowl, played in two Super Bowls and had a higher regular season winning percentage than any quarterback in the league.
The Manning magic was interrupted in 2011 when Peyton was sidelined with an injury and the Colts dropped from a playoff team to the worst record in football. The decline couldn’t have worked out better for the Colts, as their one year decline offered Indianapolis the first pick in the 2012 draft.
It was a no brainer.
By scouting reports and firsthand evaluations, the most promising three quarterbacks to come out of college in the past 50 years were John Elway, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. These are three athletes that hit all the marks with talent, leadership and character attributes. And all three were drafted by the Indianapolis Colts.
In 1983, their final season in Baltimore, the Colts had the first pick in the draft and chose Stanford Quarterback John Elway. Elway had already told Robert Irsay that he would not play for his team and not to draft him. Elway had more cards than just a bluff that year, the New York Yankees were eying Elway for baseball and already comparing him with a young Mickey Mantle.
The Colts, given the real prospect of losing Elway to baseball, worked out a deal to send Elway to the Denver Broncos in exchange for two players and draft picks. Elway spent his entire career in Denver, won two Super Bowls with the Broncos to close out his playing career, and now is a part owner of the team.
When Peyton Manning was ending his career with the Tennessee Volunteers he was chosen by the Colts with the first overall pick in 1998. It was a great pick, while at the time disagreement on the first player to be chosen was at a much higher percentage than now of people who admit they were in favor of the Colts taking Ryan Leaf instead of Manning.
Five years ago, the Colts hired Frank Reich as their head coach. It appeared a good choice, Reich is respected throughout the football world. Reich was moving in on a legacy that could match that of Mike Shanahan with Elway and his Broncos or Tony Dungy working with Manning and the Colts. In his first season with Andrew Luck, the Colts were in the playoffs and opened the postseason with a road win. Luck lost the next game against the Chiefs at Arrowhead, and no one knew that day it would be the Colts quarterback’s last professional game.
Instead of all the possibilities for excellence in sight, Reich was dealt the blow no coach wants to face, the loss of his starting quarterback. The golden boy with all the promise was gone, as magnificent as he was for a brief time, the promise of a certain Hall of Fame career and probable Super Bowl wins was lost to Luck’s injury.
Since then, the Colts have been looking for a quarterback with as much success as a screen door trying to block wind. Jacoby Brissett was a one year effort following the sudden loss of Luck in 2019. For the 2020 season, Indianapolis brought in the best quarterback to have never appeared in a Super Bowl, Phillip Rivers.
It seemed a perfect fit, Rivers finally getting the one goal he missed during 16 seasons with the San Diego and Los Angeles Chargers. That didn’t work either, the Colts got into the playoffs with Rivers, but just like the other times Rivers led his team into the playoffs, his season ended before Super Sunday. His one year effort in Indianapolis was the last of his career, and the Colts brought in Carson Wentz last season to guide this talented group of Indianapolis players over the finish line.
That didn’t work.
Wentz and the Colts lost on the last day of the season to the Jacksonville Jaguars and missed a postseason berth in defeat. Out with Wentz, bring in veteran Matt Ryan. Here is a guy who led his team to a Super Bowl and has the respect of his teammates. Maybe a fresh start could reignite Ryan’s career and help the Colts claim their achievable success.
So far, it hasn’t worked out.
The Colts opened the season against two of the weakest teams in the league, the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars. They completed that pair of contests without a win, having tied Houston, 20-20, and shutout by Jacksonville, 24-0. Now, here comes the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that is the longest way you can get from a quarterback problem with Patrick Mahomes behind center.
If Ryan is not a total bust, and I don’t think he is, then this is one of those spots where he bounces up with a big performance. You can understand the Chiefs are overconfident coming in, and the Colts have all hands on deck.
Qoxhi Picks: Indianapolis Colts (+6½) over the Kansas City Chiefs