On Kerry Collins as a quick-study Colt

August, 24, 2011
8/24/11
11:36
AM ET

Bill Polian has always liked Kerry Collins. He drafted the quarterback in Carolina in 1995. Now he’s reuniting with Collins in Indianapolis.

Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted the team has agreed to terms with Collins.

For all who were certain Peyton Manning would be ready to return from his neck issue by opening day, the Colts' move to upgrade at backup quarterback after years of little regard for the position offers the firmest evidence yet that the team is not so sure.

[+] EnlargeKerry Collins
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesKerry Collins gives the Colts some insurance until Peyton Manning is healthy enough to play.
Collins retired before the lockout ended. He said while he still craved Sundays, he lacked the fire needed to get ready for them. It had become clear, too, the Titans would be chasing an alternative, and they wound up signing Matt Hasselbeck.

I find it far less likely Collins is signing on for a chance to maybe play than he is signing on for a chance to start at least a couple games and be a factor for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

Collins' best days are behind him, but he knows what he is doing and can still make reads and throws. And the rest of the offense will have far more confidence with him leading the huddle than with Curtis Painter or Dan Orlovsky.

Other initial thoughts we need to be considering:

The offensive line is under major pressure here. Manning is masterful at getting rid of the ball to avoid sacks. Collins is a statue who is not as good. If you are not pass-protecting sufficiently, Manning has the ability to cover that up. Collins isn’t nearly as good at it. He will throw balls away and is not afraid to give up on plays. He'll take sacks, too. The run game is also under fire. Collins can't throw every snap like Manning can, so the backs need to help produce a balanced offensive effort.

Collins is a slow starter. In his five seasons with the Titans, he frequently played poorly early on. He’s a guy who generally needs to settle in to find a rhythm. That’s backward from a Colts perspective. They are built to jump out to a lead and play from ahead, forcing teams to pass. That maximizes their defensive strength -- Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis terrorizing quarterbacks -- and minimizes their weakness, which is stopping the run. But if Collins plays for the Colts and is a slow starter, they could be the team playing to catch up.

The Titans acquired Collins late in 2006 as they had a falling out with Billy Volek and no bridge to Vince Young. The veteran was terrible early on, having had minimal work with the team. He has a bit more time in this scenario, but it’s similar.

The Colts have mismanaged this acquisition. I give them credit for making the move, but they need to have a better handle on things earlier. Maybe there was not a better alternative for them available sooner. At the very least, though, make a push to sign Collins at the start of camp. They sold Manning’s surgery as a minor procedure, and four months later he may not be ready. They should have been more ready for him not being ready. A crash course for Collins doesn’t qualify as a sufficient Plan B.

Early opponents are quietly excited. The Texans, Browns, Steelers, Bucs and Chiefs are Indianapolis' first five opponents. The prospect of facing Collins instead of Manning makes them happy to draw Indy early.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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