The Colts lost stung. Hurt real bad. Then, after a bit of time, it didn't. Why? Because it looks like this organization made a great decision on the most important position in football. If we are to take one thing out of this whole season, that has to be it. The next two games don't matter. I love that we're playing meaningful games in December, that we have a chance to finish 0.500 or better, but in the end, the 2011 record is the small picture. Finding and developing an elite NFL quarterback is more valuable than anything that has or will occur this year.
Flash back to the 2011 draft and faced with the dilemma of going with Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert or someone else. My opinions of Jake Locker were well-documented. His accuracy was a huge red flag. Still, Reinfeldt went with the Washington product. Suddenly, almost a full season later, the early results on that move are promising.
Locker put his skill set on display in the preseason. I've watched his game against the Vikings several times. In his brief regular season appearances, he's much farther along than I thought he'd be at this point. His accuracy and footwork are improving. The only video I can find of the Saints game is this throw to Stevens, but pause the video at 0:05, and you'll see the accuracy I'm talking about. There are defenders on either side of Stevens. Locker's choices are (a) hit Stevens, (b) throw behind him and have it picked, (c) throw too far ahead of him and have it picked, or (d) overthrow him and have it land incomplete. He steps up and delivers a strike. His pocket presence is even better. Playing behind a terrible line, he's been able to keep his head up, eyes downfield and "feel" where the pressure's coming from. All of these are great signs for the future.
Let's take a look at the road we didn't travel. Going into the draft, I thought Gabbert provided a nice mix of potential and production. Solid arm strength with more of a foundation in accuracy than Locker. Gabbert's started games early in the year, and the results have not been pretty. I had only watched one of his games, so I had to go off others' reviews, but I recorded the Thursday night game to see for myself. After watching all his throws, its clear that he faces a steep, if not impossible climb to become even an average NFL quarterback. He's skittish, downright afraid in the pocket. He needs absolutely perfect protection to even have a chance at delivering his throws accurately. The result has been a lot of sacks and appalling decision-making. Consider the bullet dodged here Titans fans.
So let's go back to where we started: the Colts loss. Sure, it sucks to lose, possibly prevent them from going 0-16, and severely reduce any chance we have of the playoffs. But I have seen the big picture, and it includes the number 10.