Surprise, surprise, the Indianapolis Colts are yet again looking for a rule adjustment to help them out. After an AFC Championship loss to the Patriots in 2003, the Ponies whined incessantly that they couldn’t compete if New England’s defenders were allowed to breathe on them. The league reacted by giving into their wishes and policing the 5-yard contact rule like hawks. Now the Colts, Peyton Manning in particular, are looking for another bail out.
Starting this year, a referee is being moved to the backfield. Teams on offense are not allowed to snap the ball until the umpire is in place. If they do, a 5-yard penalty will be assessed. The general consensus is that this will have a negative impact on teams trying to run the hurry-up offense, which is something the Colts do on a regular basis. During the Colts’ regular season game against the Packers, the Colts were whistled for two such penalties. Following the game, Manning and Indianapolis’ GM, Bill Polian, were irate.
“I am dead-set against the penalty. It is insane. If I knew it would be this way, I’d have voted against it, and not only that, I’d have crusaded against it.”- Bill Polian
“If we had this rule last year, there’s no way we catch up in that New England game. We were down, what, 21 points in the fourth quarter? We wouldn’t have had enough time to run enough plays to catch up. But forget about that game. Let’s chart all the comeback wins where a team runs the hurry-up in the fourth quarter. How many of those games would have ended up the same way — or would the quarterbacks have had enough time to run enough plays to come back and win?” – Peyton Manning
So basically had Bill Polian knew that the new rule would affect his team, he wouldn’t have approved it? It’s always good to have somebody unbiased like that heading up the league’s competition committee. And as far as Manning’s complaints go, my counter argument is that if the Colts wanted to win the game so badly, they shouldn’t have gotten themselves down by 21 points in the first place. For every team that comes from behind, there’s also a team who blew a lead. Maybe there’s something to be said for the team winning that dominated for three quarters, vs. the team who put up a couple of late touchdowns when the defenders are gassed. In the end, it’s a two-way street.
Also, this rule wasn’t put in place to “slow down” the Colts or any offense. It serves a completely different purpose. The main goal was the protect the referees, who were previously in harm’s way. This will also prevent offenses from using the refs as picks or barriers to prevent defenders from covering receivers, as was a frequent practice by many teams. This will also give the refs a bird’s eye view of offensive holding against edge rushers. Had the ref been in the backfield during Super Bowl XLII, maybe somebody would’ve noticed the 19 holding penalties that allowed Eli Manning to get off the helmet catch throw.
Granted, there has been a lot of complaining about this new rule, not just by the Colts. However, it seems Indianapolis tends to get more vocal than most teams when it comes to rules they don’t like, and if this rule does get altered or overturned, it will be the second time in seven years where the rules or the interpretation of the rules are adjusted to benefit the Colts. I know I’m setting myself up for a genius “better to change the rules than break them” spygate reference comeback, but the fact remains that when your GM is the head of the Competition Committee and you keep getting small advantages tossed your way, it’s more than a little suspicious.
It’s time for Peyton Manning to stop whining and play. He’s playing by the same rules as everybody else. I don’t know why he thinks that everybody else should play by his rules.