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For the first time since the late 1990s, the Indianapolis Colts are in major danger of having a losing season. A team that has been a perennial championship contender since they drafted their Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning, their high-powered offense was derailed by Manning’s neck surgery and their chances of making a post-season appearance seem dimmer than ever.
At first sight of a Manning injury, the Colts signed a security blanket in the form of veteran Quarterback, Kerry Collins, to help keep the team afloat until their field general returned to the roster. However, after three consecutive poor performances leading to losses and suffering a concussion in Game 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, young Curtis Painter finally got a chance to show what he knows.
Painter had a rocky start when he first entered the game, under and overthrowing open receivers, but when he finally got into a rhythm, he began to hit his targets with precise accuracy. Though he only completed five out of 11 passes for a mere 60 yards, Painter led the Colts to their only scoring drive, while Collins couldn’t get the ball to the promised land despite his 29 passing attempts.
Another edge Painter has over Collins is that he knows the playbook inside-out. Collins is fresh off the free agency, while Painter has been behind Manning and Jim Sorgi for the past two years. Being the third string QB, he might not have gotten many reps in practice, but there’s no question he knows the plays.
Whether he can execute them, time will tell, but knowing how to run the plays and where each player should be is key for the new leader of the offense. Painter also has two key people backing him as the starter for the Colts: Star Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne and ex-Head Coach Tony Dungy.
After the loss to the Steelers on Sunday, Dungy believed that the Jaguars, in Week 4, would see a lot of Painter. And while Bob Costas responded in disbelief and astonishment of how he could side with someone who missed so many open players, Dungy showed confidence in the young Quarterback by saying that it was due to a lack of reps in practice.
Wayne, on the other hand, sided with Painter from the very beginning. During a press conference, he stuck up for the third year QB. “I’m going balls to the walls for him, man,” Wayne said. “I’m not going to let anybody just come in here. I don’t care who you are.
I mean I’m not going to let anyone just come in here and just push someone aside like you’re that dog now, you know what I mean. I’m sure Curtis is thinking it, and if he’s not thinking it, I’ll take the challenge for him.” With two important people backing him, Painter should be looking at quite a few reps this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
If the coaching staff can show the same confidence that Dungy and Wayne did, the Indianapolis Colts could be looking at a functional Quarterback to lead the team to a decent record this season. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, the Colts’ D-Line superstars, have stepped up and gotten stops on the other side of the ball.