Imagine you’re Peyton Manning.
I realize this is ridiculous but just try.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. Forget about going undefeated…you’re about to enter the dark world of Bizzaro Peyton…who despite his imaginary hardship is having a remarkable season…
Four years ago Tony Dungy left Tampa Bay for the head coaching job in Indianapolis. He liked your poise, accuracy, toughness and unparalleled ability to survey the field. He decided he might do great things with you if he could improve your defense. He didn’t wait around to make those improvements and you immediately won 3 Super Bowls in those 4 years — this was despite having guys like Cato June on your roster.
Although June was a former creampuff, under Bizzaro Dungy he mysteriously became a perennial pro bowler…a terrorizing force who struck fear in the hearts of those who crossed over the middle. Bizzaro Dungy also spotlighted June’s versatility as a long snapper and assistant to the team chef.
In winning your Super Bowls you consistently enjoyed beating the crap out of a heavily favored Patriots team with a mysteriously prolific QB named Bizzaro Brady who was a former first overall selection and who now had 2 League MVPs.
Bizzaro Brady continually confirmed his reputation for choking in the postseason by scoring less points than opposing QBs despite having far superior offenses. Many defensive coordinators point to his superior ability on first reads but average ability on progression reads. Despite his manic idiosyncrasies, and his teammates’ general indifference toward him, he’s kept his job because of a propensity for breaking passing records like he did in college when Michiganians were naming babies after him.
While Bizzaro Brady is the highest paid player in the league, you instead went for a 40% market discount to help preserve the competitive balance on your team.
Other great players and malcontents have lined up to take discounts just to play with you and train under your famous master…hoping to unlock their own hidden potential.
Although you don’t own any neat passing records, pundits are quietly beginning to consider you the all time greatest QB. Before the season began Joe Montana said he felt lucky to be compared to you.
Skeptics have begun to speculate about a negative karma surplus.
Tom Moore finally retired last season — he secretly grew tired of the humiliation attached with being your coordinator. In a controversial move they promoted a college intern to fill Moore’s shoes. Nobody panics because you call your own plays anyway. The intern doesn’t officially have the title of OC and has never even been heard speaking. But it’s assumed that instead of 3 options at the line you now can chose from 100 in any order you wish.
Nobody saw this coming, but Edgerrin James — who is now 32 — was given a big extension in the offseason — privately he’s not sure if he’ll ever make the HoF but he’s had his fill of success and people are starting to question his motivation. Suddenly he begins complaining of a nagging ankle injury and you’re suddenly without “the Edge.”
Immediately, both Dominic Rhodes and James Mungro have also developed mysterious ailments and conspiracy theories abound. Bill Pollian desperately scours the bargain wire and finds Moran Norris, a fullback who was cut from the Houston Texans’ practice squad. Norris immediately has success in a game against his former team in Houston and everyone in Indy gets excited — the Lafayette Tribune even likens Norris to John Riggins.
I forgot to mention, Tarik Glenn and Ryan Diem are still inactive. Two weeks ago, Jeff Saturday was added to IR but you have a journeyman backup tackle on the practice squad who is itching to “step up.” He has never played Center in his life but nobody is too concerned because he will “step up” and the Center position is overrated anyway.
As your protection tries to gel you’re in a bind…you can’t run the ball or even mount the threat of a run. Pass protection probably would’ve been an issue anyway, but without the running game it becomes magnified…play action disappears…single and zero deep coverages also disappear…and everyone else who isn’t deep is sprinting into the backfield after you.
TV experts are starting to question your poise.
Your normally stable receiving corps has also been scrambled up…some weeks you have Harrison, Wayne, Stokley or Walters, but never all of them together and sometimes only one or two of them. Harrison is constantly double teamed as a result. Dallas Clark also misses time, but you still have rookie Bryan Fletcher who is no longer a surprise feature of your offense. You don’t yet have the timing down with some of these guys and it’s hard to judge their body language and anticipate how they’re adjusting in their routes.
And oh yeah, the Colts’ defense is ranked 31st in the league and the genius of Bizzaro Dungy is now being called into question. Your defense is so bad that you average less than 2 opportunities per quarter to mount a drive, and each successive drive is accompanied by a diminishing chance to make up ground…this further compromises your chance to develop any consistency in the ground game.
Some “experts” are finally beginning to realize how valuable your possession style offense was in past years in helping to mask the deficiencies in the defense.
Fortunately the normally dominant AFC South is very weak this season, but instead of facing the AFC North and NFC West, the NFL has nailed you with road games in the AFC West and NFC South.
Now imagine the results in the preceding scenario when you are less than superhuman in a given week.
Looking for sympathy?, sorry, nobody cares. You are Peyton Manning — you can get any chick you want (this could be a stretch)…but people are sick of your golden image and have been desperately waiting for any sign that you may be a fraud. But you can take comfort in the fact that your fans and local media still believe you have an “S” on your chest and still hold you to a standard of perfection.
A humiliating loss in the RCA Dome snaps your 21 game home winning streak. Afterwards resident NFL authority Marty Schottenheimer publicly questions the chances of your team to be successful. You issue a calculated defense of your team — including a direct shot at Schottenheimer’s cynicism. The national pundits, led by Peter King, shockingly chastise you for overreacting — Marty’s a nice guy who meant well but they’re willing to “give you a pass” because you’re Bizzaro Peyton.
Then comes a knife in the heart…on Monday night, the Bizzaro Patriots humiliate you at home in front of 50 million people and remain undefeated. During the game cameras catch you tossing a bottle of Evian in the general direction of line coach Howard Mudd and the local media writes scathing pieces questioning your maturity — one veteran beat writer even questions how you were raised and suggests you better start preparing for the cold harsh reality of the downhill part of your career.
Every week you’re spotting great teams 20 points on the road and asked to dig out.
Last week, Bizzaro Dungy’s dad died and he was absent going into a game against the Chiefs at Arrowhead who were playing a kitchen sink game. It was yet another team with a QB who doesn’t know the meaning of carrying a team on his back…all it took for Trent Green to fall off the planet was an injury to his left left tackle, that is until Willie Roaf returned Sunday. Sadly, that incident failed to provide the media with any perspective on your phenomenal season.
As for you, it finally hit the fan with 4-picks. Cocky Chief’s DB’s told the media they “predicted” they’d intercept you as much and cited teammate Tony Gonzalez as an unbiased witness…this was then broadcast across all outlets. Sean Salisbury called your performance “inexcusable” — while on the exact same telecast Salisbury made amazing excuses for Brett Favre for leading his team to a 2-9 record in the NFC North.
Far from giving you a pass, the local media calls your performance “horrible” — Indianapolis Star reporter Mike Felger is nice enough to give you a grade of “D-“…while the running backs receive a lighter grade of “D” (despite the fact that you led your team in rushing by the time the game was out of hand).
The Star added that the Bizzaro Colts were able to overcome 40 injuries each of the last two seasons so the coaching and front office obviously deserve blame. They’re apparently unable to comprehend the CUMULATIVE effect of another record breaking injury year ON TOP OF all the others in seasons past.
Teams are no longer afraid of the Bizzaro Colts and in fact look forward to destroying you to enhance their own confidence. Meanwhile experts continue to expect no-names to be “plugged in” without any drop-off while veterans are asked to “step up” as though they weren’t already giving 100%.
Some media members frustratingly insist that players in your defensive secondary should perform at a consistently high level while six other DB’s are placed on IR…they defend this ignorant argument by comparing the situation to last season (when the team constantly won time of possession and the defense was on the field for half as long…and when a HoF safety roamed the backfield).
Other media members go straight to the playcalling while ignoring the fact that you’re being pounded or that you’re constantly fighting out of huge deficits…they of course they have a better recipe than Bizzaro Dungy (still the best X’s and O’s coach in the business).
The dizzy revolving personnel door and overall success of the team has caused another serious problem: you’re finally tapped out against the cap and have zero ability to add significant talent.
Yet the only acceptable result is continued perfection and domination in the parity era…you’re finally feeling the effects…and the blame lies at your feet. Pundits ignore that your career winning percentage in 3-point games is still at a ridiculous .913 (21-2) — and that Montana, Marino and Elway were all around .500 in close games…you are merely expected to win them all.
And yet somehow you’re leading the NFL in passing and almost on pace for a career year in terms of efficiency. In four of your team’s six wins you engineered 4th quarter comebacks — 3 of them on the road — with a combined comeback passer rating of 152.0 — and you’re on pace for 9, 10 or 11 wins which will be enough for a playoff berth in your division.
But that’s again not “valuable” enough for the MVP voters this season (Peter King cites your performance in KC as having sealed your fate). Your rival — the anointed one, Bizzaro Brady (who’s yet to be sacked all year) — is still the odds on favorite to win his 3rd MVP for carrying a healthy team through a cupcake schedule where they’ve been widely favored in every game. The Bizzaro Pats have drawn comparisons to the 92 Cowboys, 91 Redskins, 89 49ers, 51 Rams, 40 Bears and 26 Bears as one of the most unstoppable forces in the history of professional football…it also happens to be the same calendar year that your team held the exact same unstoppable offense to 3 points in the playoffs.
Having fun yet?
Given any thought to politics?