Any casual football fan can tell you that Kerry Collins is a downgrade from Peyton Manning. But pinpointing exactly what area of the game the loss of Manning hurts most is more complicated.
If you give Kerry Collins time to throw, he will pick apart a defense nearly as well as Manning. The major difference between the two, however, is how they handle pressure.
I have been arguing for the past three or four years that the Indianapolis Colts had one of the worst offensive lines in all of football. Statistically speaking they weren’t bad, but it was mostly due to Manning’s sixth sense of pocket awareness and his impressively quick release.
Enter Collins, and suddenly the issues are oh so very apparent.
According to ProFootballFocus.com Kerry Collins was 6-19 (31.6%) when facing pressure against the Texans. Among quarterbacks with at least 25 total attempts against pressure in 2010, only Arizona’s John Skelton (26.7%) completed a lower percentage than Collins against Houston. Manning completed 54.5 percent of his passes against pressure in 2010.
This doesn’t mean Collins can’t still play in the league. There are varying degrees of pressure and Collins saw the worst of it time and time again on Sunday. And when the pressure was off, Collins completed 10 of 12 passes for 139 yards.
The problem here is that the Colts have ignored the offensive line in recent offseasons. If they had simply found better options than Jeff Linkebach, Ryan Diem and Joe Reitz, their outlook for 2011 could be vastly different.