I can see it in everyone’s eyes. You can’t wait to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars visit the Indianapolis Colts this weekend. In fact, it may be the biggest game of the weekend for a few people involved with those teams. The Colts play the Jaguars twice and the Panthers once this season, and those games are the only legitimate chances I see for the Colts to get a win. Everyone knew that the Colts would be a poor football team when Peyton Manning was ruled out, but I don’t know if anyone realized they would be this terrible. The beauty of the NFL is that there’s significance in games that, seemingly, have no significance, and that’s the case here.
At the onset of the regular season, most believed that everyone in the Colts’ front office would be safe simply because of the crippling affect Peyton Manning’s injury was expected to have on the team, and that included the coaching staff as well. That notion has been thrown out the window, picked up, taken to the nearest cemetery, and buried under 6 feet of cold Indiana soil. This team is far worse than anyone knew. I thought the Colts would be a three win team without Manning, but it turns out that they are very possibly a zero win team, and that doesn’t fly in the NFL regardless of injuries.
Jim Caldwell is the easy scapegoat in the Colts’ debacle. His stoicism would fit in with ancient Rome, and he rarely gives the media more than a tiny morsel of insight into the workings of the Colts and how they can fix their woes. He’s said that the Colts need to fix the little things, but I think their problems are far worse than occasionally jumping offsides on 1st and 10. The chances that Caldwell keeps his job beyond this year seem improbable at best, and he needs to scrape together a couple of wins to stand even a chance in hell. He’s got three winnable games left; so, he better get started this weekend.
Bill and Chris Polian
The Polians are the other parties being held responsible for the Colts’ terrible roster. I’ve been wondering this entire season, “What if Manning had played for a team like the Steelers or the Patriots? How many Super Bowl rings would he have?” This season has only furthered that way of thinking.
The Polians have assembled a roster that doesn’t tackle, doesn’t block, turns the ball over, and hemorrhages huge plays. That’s a recipe for disaster, and I can’t think of any excuse for building such a team. Drafting Manning in 1998 was a no-brainer. Since then, they’ve never placed an elite team around him. Had they been able to do so, the Colts would have won more than a single Super Bowl. The idea that Peyton Manning is only worth three or four wins a season is ludicrous. He’s worth at least ten wins to the Colts per year.
I’m not sure of Jim Irsay will pull the trigger on the Polians, but from this outsider’s perspective, I think it needs to happen. Anyone with an ounce of football knowledge would have picked Manning in ’98. It’s the lack of overall production from the rest of the players that’s disturbing, and I don’t see why you wouldn’t blow it up now as you start the Andrew Luck transition in Indianapolis.
Jack Del Rio
Expectations have been lowering ever since Jaguars’ owner, Wayne Weaver said that the Jaguars would be expected to make the playoffs in 2011 or heads would roll. Since that date, the Jaguars have drafted a rookie quarterback, released their former starter, benched his replacement, and got an early start on the Blaine Gabbert era when they began starting the rookie in only week 3. Once you add in the fact that their offensive line has been hurt by injuries, and they have no receivers; you find that the real world expectations weren’t really to make the playoffs.
As it stands, Jack Del Rio will be fired, but he still has time to save his job. His entire coaching staff is on one year contracts; so, it would seem like the right time to bring in a new staff from a business perspective. If the Jaguars can show growth in the second half of the season, and by that I mean finishing no worse than 7-9, I think Jack Del Rio stands a fair chance of keeping his job. If he manages to lose to the Colts on Sunday, you can pretty much throw that idea out the window, though.
To say that Blaine Gabbert has had a rough rookie year is an understatement. He’s been thrown into the fire in a year he was supposed to be able to sit and watch, while learning the pro game. He didn’t get the same amount of practice time as rookies normally get due to the lockout, and he’s played some of the best defenses in the NFL including the Bengals, Ravens, Steelers, and Texans. This is his first big chance to show what he can do against one of the worst defenses in the league.
Andrew Luck has a lot on the line Sunday. If the Colts can pull out a win, it’s suddenly a three horse race for the top pick in the draft, a pick that would almost certainly be used on Andrew Luck. If the Colts lose, they’ll be limited to two winnable games the rest of the season, and the odds that Luck will be in Indianapolis will only continue to climb. I’d be shocked if he’s not keeping tabs on the Colts, Jaguars game this Sunday. I know I will.