The Jets should only have such luck.
As they have gone from Mark Sanchez to Geno Smith to Ryan Fitzpatrick to perhaps Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg or a quarterback to be named later in 2017, the Colts went seamlessly from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck.
It’s not Luck’s fault he hasn’t yet won a Super Bowl in his fifth season with the Colts. Indy GM Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano are wasting the prime years of his career by not building a defense to support him or an offensive line that can keep him healthy — he just made it through concussion protocol in time to play the Jets on Monday night after missing one game.
The poor team the Colts have put around Luck has prevented the Manning-to-Luck handoff from equaling the success of the greatest QB transition of all time, when Steve Young took over for Joe Montana in San Francisco.
Fact: If Jimmy Irsay didn’t fire Colts president Bill Polian after the 2011 season, he wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck. It was the second year of the new collective bargaining agreement with the rookie wage scale, and Polian felt he could make the numbers work with both quarterbacks. His plan was to bring Manning back and let Luck learn from him.
Instead, Irsay fired Polian and cut Manning.
Manning was due a $28 million bonus if he stayed. Luck was due to get a $22 million contract as the first overall pick. “The money was not an issue,” Polian inisisted in my book, “Brady vs. Manning.” “Keep the guy in the wings. The guy in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers, stayed in the wings for three years. What better way to have success for the long term than to have Peyton and Andrew Luck ready to succeed him.”
It would have been the quarterback controversy to end all quarterback controversies.
Irsay hated the idea.
“You could have physically and literally had Andrew and Peyton on the same team, but what you would have done to both players would have been a catastrophe,” Irsay said. “It would have been so bad for the NFL, so bad for Andrew Luck, so bad for Peyton Manning. Peyton would have gone on with a team that was with the likes of the replacement team in 1987 and would have been 2-6 and they would be calling for Andrew Luck to come in. I love history, and I love one guy staying with one team and retiring with one team. Circumstances came that made that impossible.”
He felt that if so much of the salary cap would be eaten up by Manning and Luck, it would not leave the Colts enough money to put together a team.
“There is no way you can construct a football team with what was left,” he said. “Absolutely, positively, no way. It was a Rubik’s Cube that couldn’t be solved. (Peyton) knew it. I knew it.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick (l.) and Bryce Petty.
Irsay and Manning agreed on Irsay’s private plane on a flight from Miami to Indianapolis in March of 2012 that the Colts had to let him go. It was announced the next day. Manning finished his career with four seasons in Denver, making the Super Bowl twice, losing one to Seattle and beating Carolina in the final game of his career last season.
Luck has done his part taking a flawed Colts team to the wild-card game as a rookie, the divisional round of the playoffs in his second year, the AFC Championship Game in his third year (he threw 40 TDs in the regular season) before injuries last year (shoulder, torn rib cartilage, lacerated kidney) limited him to seven games and ruined his fourth season.
Luck, taken first overall in 2012, was considered the greatest quarterback prospect since the Colts took Manning first overall in 1998. Manning was considered the greatest quarterback prospect since the Colts drafted John Elway first overall in 1983. Of course, Elway didn’t want to play for Colts owner Robert Irsay and he was traded to Denver.
If Elway had played for the Colts, it’s unlikely they would have had the worst record in the league in 1997, which enabled them to get Manning. But it’s fun to think about how it could have gone from Elway to Manning to Luck.
It’s not so much fun to think about how the Jets are still looking for their first franchise quarterback since Joe Namath or how none of their first round QB picks since Joe Willie — Richard Todd, Ken O’Brien, Chad Pennington and Sanchez — worked out long-term.
The Colts, meanwhile, “Sucked For Luck” in 2011 when they were 2-14 without Manning, who missed the entire season following his fourth neck surgery, after making the playoffs nine years in a row and winning at least 12 regular season games nine times.
Just the Colts’ luck, the one year they were really bad, there was a franchise quarterback sitting there for them at the top of the draft. When the Jets had the first pick in 1997, Bill Parcells didn’t try to convince Manning to leave school one year early and wound up trading the pick. Jake Plummer, a second-round pick by the Cardinals, turned out to be the QB in the draft.
When the Jets had the first pick in 1996, they selected wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson in a year no QB was even taken in the first round. Danny Kanell, a fourth-round pick by the Giants, had the best career of the QB class of ’96.
The Colts are still trying to figure things out. But at least they have Luck. Even so, this is his fifth season in the NFL and the team around him is regressing. Luck has 19 TDs and eight INTs this season, good but not great numbers. Indy was 5-6 going into Monday night’s game against the Jets, a half-game behind the Texans and Titans for first place in the AFC South.
They had won only two more games than the Jets but their lead was much greater.
They had a little bit of Luck while Jets Nation was still throwing a Fitz about their quarterback dilemma.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News