Want proof that the Colts tanked the 2011 season to get lucky with Luck? It's all in the following article, which was located in the Indy blog, Stampede Blue:
First word: Without question, Stanford junior quarterback Andrew Luck is the highly regard NFL Draft prospect in years. He's not only the talk of draftniks, but NFL personnel men. John Elway, Broncos executive vice president of football operations, raved about Luck earlier this year.
"I'll tell you this, I think Andrew Luck is the best football player in the draft, without a doubt," Elway said about Luck. "If that were to happen, then you're going have to have some very serious conversations of exactly which direction you want to go, whether it's with Tim (Tebow) or take a guy like Andrew Luck. To me, barring injury, he's going to be very successful in the NFL."
What will make Luck successful in the NFL is his combination of natural ability, size and football intelligence. While none of the traits he possesses are rare, few quarterbacks of his age have Luck's combination of skills.
Bold statement: If his offensive line in the NFL doesn't get him killed, Andrew Luck will be a Hall of Fame player.
Throughout the NFL season, beat writers and bloggers, like Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, have been wondering which team or teams will begin to intentionally lose games near the end of regular season in an effort to snare the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft.
This type of cynical 'throwing' of games would blast a big hole in the carefully crafted narrative NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners have sold to the public: That all games matter, and that no one can or should intentionally lose games. To do so would damage the credibility of the league and diminish the overall product.
Oh, and it would kind of tick off the thousands of fans who paid $200 a pop to eat overpriced food in a stadium that they already front a yearly maintenance bill for. In the case of Indianapolis, that bill is $26 million.
But, such dynamics do not sway the thinking of one Bill Polian, a man who knows a thing or two about intentionally losing games in order to gain an advantage. Two years ago, around this time, the Colts vice chairman was instructing his head coach, Jim Caldwell, to pull starters out of the third quarter of a supposedly 'meaningless' Week Sixteen game against the New York Jets. At the time, the Colts were 14-0, and were flirting with a 19-0 undefeated season. They'd clinched the division and homefield advantage two weeks prior, and had played starters in an equally 'meaningless' game the week before against the Jacksonville Jaguars (a game the Colts won).
However, the difference between that Jacksonville game and the New York one was the NFL Network, owned and operated by NFL owners, carried the Jags v. Colts game. It was also a primetime contest. Pulling starters from that game would have upset the stuffy suits who sign the checks Bill Polian cashes. However, the Jets game was a 4:00 PM contest on CBS. When the starters exited the game in the early third quarter, the boos rained down like hellfire from the Lucas Oil Stadium rafters.
And Bill Polian could have cared less.
The fallout from that disaster was a series of P.R. blunders. Whatever good will Bill Polian had with fans evaporated when he went on his weekly radio show the next day and berated callers who dared question his decision-making. Despite paying fans making valid arguments that Polian had disgraced himself, his team, and the game of football by intentionally throwing a game, the Colts head task master remained belligerently defiant, going so far as to question whether or not a woman caller was, indeed, a 'real' fan.
Two months later, the Colts would lose in the Super Bowl to the Saints, a team they were favored to beat. Indianapolis has gone 10-19 since they threw their Week Sixteen game against the Jets, including a playoff loss to those Jets last season.
Karma. It's a bia-itch.
Now, almost two years to the day when the Colts disgraced the integrity of the league, Bill Polian and his cronies at the Colts West 56th Street front office are at it again. The club is currently lost in an 0-10 swamp of suck due, in large part, to the failures of the personnel department. Draft picks have busted from 2007 to the present, and with the front office treating veteran free agency like it's some sort of disease, the Colts talent base has gotten older, slower, and less dynamic. Couple this with coaching incompetence and a neck injury to all-world quarterback Peyton Manning, and you have 0-10.
But, what sets this team apart from other teams that are struggling is the seeming unwillingness to do anything to stop the losing. Note these examples:
The Colts entered their bye week late this year (Week Eleven). At 0-10, it seemed a good time to fire head coach Jim Caldwell. Yes, he led the Colts to the Super Bowl two years prior, but 0-10 is 0-10. The team is flirting with an 0-16 season, and has been blown out regularly. The point differential for Indianapolis is currently -169, including an embarrassing 62-7 loss to the same New Orleans Saints that upset, and outcoached, the Colts and Jim Caldwell in the Super Bowl two years ago.
Yet, despite a good opportunity to make a coaching change and, hopefully, spark a few late-season wins, the Colts opted for none.
The Denver Broncos decided to cut quarterback Kyle Orton earlier this week. Orton, who played his college ball at Purdue University, has thrown 49 touchdowns the last three years, completing roughly 60% of his passes. He's not Aaron Rodgers, but he ain't half bad either. Certainly, he can fling the football better than the Colts Curtis Painter, who is the third worst rated quarterback this season, and THE worst rated non-rookie quarterback currently starting.
Because the Broncos waived Orton, he had to pass through the NFL waiver system, which allows the worst team in the NFL (record-wise) to claim a released player before anyone else can sign him. Well, the Colts are the league's worst team, and apparently had interest in trading for Orton earlier this year. The trade talks didn't amount to anything, and the Colts front office ended up wasting $4 million on Kerry Collins, who came out of retirement only to last three games.
Claiming Orton now would give the Colts a much better quarterback option not just for the final weeks of the season, but into next year as well. The overall health of Peyton Manning is still very much in doubt, and when talent like Orton is practically handed to you... well, you take it! Especially if you are 0-10!
However, the Colts opted not to claim Orton, citing salary cap restrictions. The excuse doesn't hold up because Orton's contract only counts $1.588 million against the cap. I realize the Colts are only $3 mil under the cap (a depressing thought considering they are winless after 11 weeks), but spending $1.588 million of that on Orton is still justified. Again, Indy is 0-10. It's not like their current formula for cap management is working. Also, after 2011, Orton is a free agent. Should he leave and sign somewhere else, the Colts would be given a compensation draft choice for the 2012 NFL Draft. No-brainer, right?
Well, apparently for Bill Polian, it isn't. The Colts passed on claiming Orton, allowing the 4-6 Kansas City Chiefs to scoop him up.
As previously stated, Curtis Painter is indeed a terrible quarterback. His cumulative QB rating is 60.6. He's completed just 51% of his passes with five touchdowns, nine interceptions, and enough fumbles that could fill a clown car. In his last outing, a 17-3 smackdown at home at the hands of the Jaguars, Painter had just 94 yards heading into the fourth quarter. He was mercifully benched in favor of Dan Orlovsky. In one drive, Orlovsky had almost as many yards throwing (67) as Painter did in three quarters.
After the bye week, it seemed logical to bench Painter and see what Orlovsky could bring to the table. Eight games is enough to evaluate a player, and in Painter's case, eight games netted just 1,315 yards and the offense scoring an average of 13.1 a game, third worst in the league. Painter hasn't thrown a meaningful touchdown in a meaningful, non-garbage-time-situation, since the second quarter against the Chiefs way back on October 9th.
Seems obvious that, in order to spark some kind of chance to win a game, there needs to be a change at quarterback.
But, no. Yesterday, Jim Caldwell announced that Curtis Painter would remain the starter, failing to give any kind of rational justification for keeping the third worst rated quarterback currently playing under center. The perception is Painter will play out the rest of the season, which could likely end with Painter dead last in the QB rankings based on his current state of regression.
What these examples show is either a complete disconnect between the Colts front office leadership and reality, or a concerted effort to intentionally lose games.
The Colts often preach 'staying the course,' and not making big, over-arching changes. Well, that philosophy has the club at 0-10 now, flirting with 0-16. An 0-16 season would cripple the franchise. Clubs just don't 'get over' embarrassments like that. This current Indianapolis roster is already historically bad. Going 0-16 would put them in the same company as the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both teams went winless in their respective seasons, and both are considered the worst teams ever to play on an NFL field.
Interesting side note: The quarterback of the 0-16 2008 Detroit Lions was Dan Orlovsky.
By changing nothing, the Colts look to be guaranteeing little change in the win-loss column. This is either a concerted effort to lose and gain the rights to Andrew Luck (hence the phrase 'Suck for Luck'), or the Colts leadership is truly THAT stupid.
The current leaders in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes are Indianapolis (0-10), Minnesota (2-8), Carolina (2-8), and St. Louis (2-8). The Vikings, Panthers, and Rams all have used first round picks on quarterback the last two years, with the Rams using the No. 1 overall pick on Sam Bradford in 2010 and the Panthers using the first pick on Cam Newton in 2011. The Vikings used the 12th overall pick on quarterback Christian Ponder last year.
Thus, the team most likely in play for Luck is Indy.
Personally, I'm not opposed to Andrew Luck playing under center for the Colts next year and beyond. When people like Dan Kadar are telling me he is the real deal, I can't help but get excited. But, to get the rights to Luck in this way, a way that seems so blatantly cynical and dismissive of the integrity of the game, it just seems so wrong; just as throwing the Week Sixteen game against the Jets two years ago felt wrong.
And, really, does Bill Polian want to spit in the face of Karma again? Sure, he's probably going to the Hall of Fame as a personnel executive, but if this club goes 0-16, how can voters really view this man as a true 'great' in this sport? How can they cast a 'yes' vote when they know he threw those games in 2009, and seems content to let his club lose this year either through cynical dealings or blatant incompetence?
Regardless of the motives, it's clear the Colts are in full 'Suck 4 Luck' mode, and for someone like me who has covered this team for six years, it seems like they are rubbing feces in the face of the 'Football Gods' yet again. And, like last time, it will probably come back to bite them big time.