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Colts knew they were totally dependent on Manning

Though they didn't know it at the time, the day Peyton Manning underwent his third neck surgery was the same day the Colts' coaching staff began the slow march toward unemployment.

Losing Manning led to a 2-14 meltdown in Indianapolis, which was followed by a thorough housecleaning by owner Jim Irsay.

Former Colts offensive line coach Pete Metzelaars was among the disposed, and he landed on his feet with the Bills as tight ends coach. He was asked during his introductory press conference this week if the Colts spoke internally about how damaging life without Manning could be.

"We talked about it a little bit, yeah. We were so dependent on him and what he did," Metzelaars said, according to The Indianapolis Star. "The whole offensive structure was built upon what he could do and how he did it. The way his injury took place, there was always kind of the thought that 'well, he could come back, he might come back, maybe the recovery time is going to be x.' So we found ourselves kind of holding out hope 'well, let's not change everything because there's a chance he's going to come back and when he comes back then we're going to run it this way.'

"Unfortunately, he never did come back," he went on. "So we got stuck with kind of trying to change in midstream and put some things together, and the people we had trying to do some of the things that Peyton did, even then we cut it down, but obviously they're not Peyton Manning."

Metzelaars' comments give us a better idea why Manning was never sent to injured reserve. There was no smokescreen in place -- Indy always hoped Manning could come back and save their season. He never could.

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