Season in Review:
Manning had yet another MVP season in 2009, leading his team to a 14-2 record, including seven fourth quarter comeback victories and a 14-0 start. He finished 2009 with 4,500 yards passing, 33 touchdown passes, 16 interceptions, a 99.9 passer rating, and was only sacked ten times.
He is the engine that makes this Colts offense go and they were able to finish seventh in scoring despite the fact that they finished last in the league in rushing. That Manning was able to post the stats he was able to post and achieve the success he was able to achieve without the threat of a consistent running game is all the more impressive.
In the postseason, Manning kept pace with 956 yards, six touchdown passes, two interceptions, four sacks, and a 99.0 passer rating. He did have one costly interception in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, but generally shepherded his team through the playoffs with skill, ease, and strong leadership. It did, after all, take one of the greatest games in Super Bowl history by Drew Brees to defeat Manning and the Colts.
Sorgi attempted fewer passes than Joseph Addai and Reggie Wayne (who each attempted only one) before being placed on injured reserve. Painter struggled against the Jets when the starters were pulled in Week 16, struggled against the Bills in Week 17, didn't see any action in the playoffs, and finished the season with eight completions on 28 attempts for a paltry 83 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions, three sacks, and a passer rating of 9.8.
Manning is the face of this franchise and the heart and soul of this offense. Despite the fact that a suitable replacement does not exist on the roster, Manning is still irreplaceable and it is doubtful that Indianapolis would trade him man-for-man for any other quarterback in the league even though there are players at the position that have had more postseason success and have more rings.
Though he fell short of another championship in 2009, he will re-dedicate himself to coming back strong in 2010. He will work this offseason — if he hasn't already started working — with position coach Frank Reich and head coach Jim Caldwell to refine his game and attempt to bring it to an even higher level.
Players have come and gone on this team, with 2009 seeing more turnover at the receiver position than ever before, but Manning is the constant. With Tom Moore, the offense should continue to move the ball and put up points next season and beyond.
"Different offseason, same question: Who will the Colts get that is better than Jim Sorgi? Sorgi is entrenched and obviously knows the offense, but is just as obviously not the long term answer to back-up question at the quarterback position. It's true that Manning has not missed a start in his NFL career, but it is also true that he showed himself to be subject to injuries like any other player in the 2008 season when he had an infected bursa sac removed from his knee. The fact remains that Indianapolis will be in dire straits should Manning miss time during a given season, whether that time is limited or significant."
That was copied and pasted from last season's Season in Review: Quarterbacks. It was true then and it is true today. There has been one twist in the plot, however, as Sorgi has been release and signed with the New York Giants. Given that Painter looked lost in limited action in 2009, however, the question remains: Who will the Colts get that is better than Jim Sorgi (or Curtis Painter)?
What's Next?Painter has another offseason to learn the offense and acquaint himself with the NFL game and will have another opportunity to get quality snaps with the first and second team. He will have a chance to work closely with Reich. He has his first season under his belt. What he does with his second season is up to him.
Indianapolis signed Drew Willy to a future contract and the practice squad, but he is another young quarterback that is a project. He could emerge as the offseason wears on, but it is highly unlikely that he will show the coaches enough to cast Painter aside.
If the Colts are serious about finding someone capable to carry the clipboard for Manning, they will at least need to sign someone for the short term. Jared Lorenzen and Quinn Gray are not viable options at this point, but there are — and will be, as the offseason wears on — some viable veteran options out there, including Jeff Garcia.
The more likely scenario is that Indianapolis will pick up some young veterans with potential that they can train, but that strategy has not worked well for them in the past. That's not to say that it won't work, but they definitely need to find the right player with the right make-up. It's at least worth a shot to see if such a player exists among the veterans that are available.
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