For the first time since Jim Harbaugh started Week 17 in 1997, the Indianapolis Colts expect to have a quarterback other than Peyton Manning at the helm when they start the 2011 season.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Colts are preparing not to have Manning: They signed Kerry Collins today, and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that the Colts’ top brass does not believe Manning will be ready for the regular-season opener in Houston.
However, Manning remains hopeful that he’ll be far enough along in his recovery from neck surgery that he can line up under center against the Texans. Given Manning’s track record of never missing more than one play because of injury, no one should bet against Manning if he thinks he can do it.
But there’s no question the Colts are in trouble. Signing Collins at the last minute is a stopgap measure because Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky have been dreadful during the preseason, and while Collins with two weeks’ preparation might be better than Painter and Orlovsky, he’s obviously nowhere near as good as Manning.
The Colts knew Manning’s neck injury was serious, and they shouldn’t have waited this long to get themselves a capable backup for the injured Manning. Now the team that has had the most reliable quarterback situation in all of football over the last decade is heading into the regular season with a huge question mark at quarterback.