Originally posted by Wubbie:
I didn't follow the NFL as closely last season, but are the Colts really that bad that if Peyton Manning isn't there, they're a terrible team? They were saying on ESPN that without Peyton, the Colts are a 3-13 team.
I don´t know about 3-13, but I believe the Colts are really screwed without Peyton, more than any other team depending on their franchise quaterback because of the way the team is built.
Of course the Colts are built on offense around Peyton, all teams with a great QB do that, but the Colts do this in the extreme, I think. They have one really good O-Lineman, Center Jeff Saturday and as of late, the other players on the line have all been either nondescript or even suspect. Peyton masked their shaky play really well, but even he got more in trouble lately because his line could not block for him as well. The Colts also struggle in the run game and have so for a few seasons now. Joseph Addai is nothing special, but still their best RB and I would say their former first-round RB Donald Penn is a disappointment so far.
I would also argue that Manning makes his receivers look much better than they are. Reggie Wayne is a good one, but has not the speed he used to have anymore and is now strictly a possession guy. Dallas Clark would be a good receiver on any team, I think, but the Colts also use him as a receiver more than a tight end and I would wager that a guy like Vernon Davis would actually be the better blocker, so Clark is a tight end in name only.
Manning has also been more or less his own offensive coordinator for a long time now and now that his former O-Coordinator Tom Moore is retired/advisor for the Jets, the Colts even lack Moores veteran experience. I don´t know about their new Coordinator, maybe he can be a stronger force if Peyton is forced to miss time, but since the Colts were so used to Manning runnning the show essentially alone, this will be a major adjustment however you slice it.
Now comes the really paradoxical part: I and a lot of others would even argue that Peyton Manning greatly influences the way the Colts defense
plays and is built, which would screw them as well if Peyton misses time. The Colts defense has been built as a quick and somewhat undersized defense since the Tony Dungy days. So for example the D-Linemen are usually quick, speed rush-type guys in the mold of Freeney and Mathis which can really excel in rushing opposing QBs, but usually somewhat suck against the run. With Peyton Manning running the offense, that actually makes a lot of sense, because the Colts offense was usually a quick-scoring capable offense able to put a lot of points on the board. Opponents getting bitten by the Colts offense now would have to pass a lot to try to keep up with the Colts scoring, which would then play into the strength of the Colts defenses, because they excel at pass rushing.
But without the Manning-led great Colts offense, the defense could encounter a lot more grind-it-out offenses which would be content to run it down the throat of the Colts D and daring them to try to stop them and I think they are not really good at actually stopping such an offense. The Colts would also have the misfortune of having two teams in their division with great rushing offenses in the Texans and Titans and even the Jaguars can run the ball.
Long story short (the tl;dr version)
: The Colts are especially screwed without Peyton, more than any other team missing its franchise QB because the Colts offense and also the defense is built around Manning and his abilities. Since none of his backups can even be a bad imitation of Peyton, the Colts would suffer greatly, maybe not 3-13 bad, but pretty close