Updated Sept. 29
Tony Dungy was a great coach, no doubt about that. So it was only natural that when he retired from coaching last winter, walking away from his job with the Indianapolis Colts, people would expect the Colts to fall off.
Those people forgot the most important NFL rule, which is that coaches are important but never as important as the guy taking snaps.
The Colts still have Peyton Manning. That's why they are still good. It's that simple.
Not to insult Dungy or new coach Jim Caldwell, but the Colts are a 4-12 team without Manning, no matter who coaches them.
With Manning, they're always a Super contender.
If you or I were named coach of the Colts tomorrow, they wouldn't be as good. That's an easy assumption. But I ask this: What situation would an opponent rather face -- the Colts without Manning coached by Dungy or Caldwell or the Colts with Manning coached by Joe Fan and the assistants?
It's not as easy a decision as you might think, is it?
Manning, who was the league MVP last season even though it seems some have chosen to forget, reminded us of his greatness Sunday night when he threw for 379 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Colts are now 3-0 in Caldwell's first season as coach, and once again look poised to own the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans at 0-3 and the other two teams in the division both at 1-2.
The Colts are second in the CBSSports.com Power Rankings this week, just behind Peyton's brother, Eli Manning, and the New York Giants.
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Peyton Manning had his huge night without his second wide receiver, Anthony Gonzalez, who is out for a while with a knee injury. Does it matter? Manning still has Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Plus, he seems to make any receiver who steps on the field that much better.
This summer, when all the speculation centered on the Colts falling off with Caldwell taking over, Manning, his teammates and even Caldwell shrugged at the notion.
"We're still the same guys," Wayne told me this summer. "And we still have Peyton throwing it to us."
It's the great chicken-or-the-egg debate for the NFL. What's more valuable, the coach or the quarterback?
In the Colts case, I'll go with Manning.
The Power Rankings after Week 3: