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Manning will earn MVP stripes if he keeps Colts afloat

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Posted Oct. 21, 2010 @ 4:11 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

The news keeps getting worse for the Colts on the injury front.

Dallas Clark is visiting a hand specialist for a fairly rare injury that could sideline him for the season.

Joseph Addai still doesn't have feeling back in his shoulder.

And now we hear that Austin Collie, who has had a fantastic season to date, could miss a few weeks on top of that.

When it rains, it monsoons.

The best news? The Colts are on bye this week.

Doubting anyone will rest easily. After all, if you're starting for this team, there's about a 50-50 chance you'll get hurt, what with safeties Melvin Bullitt and Bob Sanders going down with big injuries, Anthony Gonzalez missing games, Gary Brackett sitting out Sunday's contest ... it just never ends.

But I am sure if you asked Peyton Manning, who must look like Nero playing his lyre while Rome burned, he'd tell you that he was more upset with the behavior of his drunk punter (shades of "liquored-up kicker") than he was with injuries that really can't be foreseen or prevented.

As if the team doesn't lean on Manning enough, he now will be their guardian, their savior, their State Farm guy rolled into one. And he'll have to do his job, for a week or two maybe, with undrafted Blair White perhaps playing the role of Clark/Gonzo. Go get 'em, kid.

Here's what's in front of the Colts: home game against the Texans, who whipped them in Week One; at Philly and their two-headed QB monster; home against the Bengals, among the league's bigger crapshoots; and at New England, where they have a tiny, little rivalry going with the team that plays there.

Most years, too, I would mention the two following games at home against the Cowboys and Chargers. For now, they are both broken teams. But by the time they come to Indy, we could be talking about two talented, pissed-off clubs scrapping for their playoff lives.

With the Colts, assume the worst. They never get the easy road. Far from cursed, they nonetheless end up getting dealt crummy cards in key situations. Often they prevail; sometimes they fail. Other than Super Bowl XLI, we're talking about a team that has suffered some brutally tough defeats.

Are we in store for more disappointment coming off a Super Bowl they probably should have won?

Not if Manning has anything to say about it. He's probably the early horse in the MVP race, and writers who care about this sort of thing would likely pee down their legs with excitement if Manning can lead this team to wins, big wins, with a lack of pass catchers and an offensive line that has only looked good when the Redskins chose not to put their guys in three-point stances.

Despite being one of the NFL's top-five players, Manning really is a scrapper. He has played from ahead most of his career, but he does his best work typically when the chips are down. His late-season and late-game failures are a story line of the past. Go ahead and blame him for the pick-six against the Saints if you want, but all I know is that there is no better-prepared QB in this league to handle the kind of adversity that the Colts are facing now.

When you look at it that way, maybe the news isn't so awful after all.

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