Indianapolis Colts open Andrew Luck era against Chicago Bears

Finally.

After such an incredibly turbulent offseason, perhaps the most turbulent one since infamously moving to Indianapolis in 1984, the Indianapolis Colts finally have a real football game to play today, the first one coached by Chuck Pagano and quarterbacked by Andrew Luck.

A new era. A fresh start.

We certainly won’t learn everything about this majorly overhauled roster after its contest with the Chicago Bears at 1 p.m. at Soldier Field. From what we saw during training camp and preseason action, though, can give us a good idea of what areas to watch specifically as the Colts truly enter a brave new post-Peyton Manning world.

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The Great Unknown: 2012 Indianapolis Colts preview

The Indianapolis Colts have endured quite the eventful — and often turbulent — offseason in 2012.

The firings of Vice Chairman Bill Polian, GM Chris Polian and coach Jim Caldwell. The hires of GM Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano.

The release of quarterback Peyton Manning, the greatest and most iconic Indianapolis Colt of all time, and the subsequent cuts of long-time fan favorites Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt and Dallas Clark.

The selection of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck — the franchise’s cornerstone for the future — with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

And on the not-so-bright side, the fan backlash at owner Jim Irsay and the club, particularly for parting with Manning and for announcing just weeks ago the Colts would black out home games that weren’t 100-percent sold out despite a new league rule that allows a minimum 85-percent attendance to air games.

After all this uber-whirlwind of change and drama surrounding the Colts, it’s finally, thankfully, time to play some football.

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Indianapolis Colts 2012 NFL Draft preview: Andrew Luck, then what?

New Indianapolis Colts GM Ryan Grigson made official Tuesday what we all pretty much knew back in January: the franchise will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in today’s NFL Draft.

Luck is billed as the most pro-ready quarterback prospect to enter the league since Peyton Manning, the man he’s succeeding in Indianapolis. Some would go even further back and call Luck the surest thing since fellow Stanford great John Elway.

While I personally think such opinions are a bit overkill, I do think very highly of Luck, and I believe he can be the Colts’ next franchise signal-caller for many years to come. Given the recent organizational overhaul in Indy, however, quarterback is far from this team’s only thin spot. The Colts could use talent upgrades everywhere.

The fun, analytically speaking, starts with the No. 34 pick.

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The only story with the Indianapolis Colts is Peyton Manning

Just so you know, the Colts have made a few major changes this offseason.

Bill and Chris Polian are gone. In their place is new general manager Ryan Grigson, formerly a member of the Philadelphia Eagles’ front office.

Oh, and former coach Jim Caldwell also is out of town. The new guy? Chuck Pagano, who spent the 2011 season as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator. Word is he plans to do away with the Colts’ familiar Tampa 2 defense and install a hybrid 3-4 scheme.

The Colts have some new coordinators too, you know. Bruce Arians, who was the team’s quarterbacks coach from 1998-2000 and previously served as offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is back in Indy to conduct the offense (Clyde Christensen isn’t gone, though. He’s quarterbacks coach now). Greg Manusky, who in 2011 was the San Diego Chargers’ defensive coordinator, now has that position here.

Any other offseason, these would be HUGE stories that would command their own blog posts. But this offseason? We hardly have heard a peep from or about any of these guys. There’s only one story surrounding the Indianapolis Colts right now: the very public dilemma between Peyton Manning and owner Jim Irsay that eventually will lead to the four-time MVP’s exit from town.

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Indianapolis Colts’ New GM Faces Decision on Jim Caldwell

We’re nearly five days into the Ryan Grigson era in Indianapolis, and the Colts’ new general manager should be about ready to make the call on the first of many crucial decisions this offseason.

Grigson, the former director of player personnel with the Philadelphia Eagles and an Indiana native (Purdue alum), is expected to decide either today or in the next couple of days whether to retain incumbent head coach Jim Caldwell or to complete the housecleaning and move forward with his own guy.

With huge decisions looming later in the offseason, particularly whether to keep or release quarterback Peyton Manning and whether to do the same (or re-sign) so many high-profile Colts players, the Caldwell decision might seem simple. It’s not, though, and it could have an effect on some of those decisions down the road.

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