Colts out of discussion of greatest all-time teams

Adam Schefter answers readers' questions nearly every day in his blog. On Thursday, he's fielding questions about the Indianapolis Colts as they prepare for their Super Bowl matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Have a query of your own for Adam? Submit it right here.

Q: Are those two meaningless losses really what's keeping people from thinking this Indy team is one of the best of all time? With the starters out early, those two games told me absolutely nothing about any flaws this team might have. Had they lost to the New England Patriots in that fourth-and-2 game, then I'd be all ears. But people can't downplay what this team has accomplished because of some stupid personnel mandate.

-- Walt (Indianapolis)

A: Walt, that's exactly what's keeping the Colts out of that discussion. That was their choice, not anyone else's. They had a chance to go down as one of the greatest teams in NFL history -- and they decided other goals were more important. They decided that a Super Bowl title is more important than the glory that would accompany an undefeated season. Their choice. Fans can go by only what they see. And even though Indianapolis rested its regulars in two games, fans see a team that lost two games, that decided not to compete for the wins in those two games, that had its eyes on a higher prize. And if the Colts win Sunday, it's hard to argue. No one is downplaying what this team accomplished -- it's tremendous. It could be a second Super Bowl title in four years, a rare feat in the NFL. Most cities would sign up for that today if they could. But this Colts team is not one of the best of all time.

Q: Do you think Dwight Freeney will play in the Super Bowl? If so, how effective can he be? If it were any other game, do you think he'd even consider playing?

-- Ray (Miami)

A: Ray, my hunch is that Freeney will be out there on a very limited basis and will find out that it is too difficult to get done what he is used to getting done. This is a serious ankle injury. Since he injured it, he has struggled to walk. Freeney is a huge fighter, and has constantly played hurt, and the competitor in him wants to play -- badly. But he has a bad tire right now. Can you drive your car if the right front wheel doesn't work? Maybe. But it won't drive nearly as well. It's hard to imagine Freeney being Freeney in this game.

Q: What do you think is the biggest difference between this year's Colts team and last year's? Why are they so much more dominant?

-- Janessa (Bloomington, Ind.)

A: This year's Colts team played well enough in the regular season not to have to open the playoffs on the road in San Diego like it did last season. This year's Colts played well enough to win the division, which is something they couldn't do last season. This year's Colts have had an infusion of youth from Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, who have rendered Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez afterthoughts, which is hard to imagine. But this year's Colts aren't all that different from last year's Colts. Had last year's Colts had a first-round bye and two home playoff games, I think they would have been good enough to get to the Super Bowl, too.

Q: If Jim Caldwell wins a Super Bowl in his first year as a head coach, where do you think he sits on the list of top NFL coaches?

-- Josh (Nampa, Idaho)

A: Climbing steadily, Josh. Hard to rank coaches and where they sit, but this is what I do know: The other night, some people and I were discussing who were the nicest, most genuine coaches in the game. And one of the first names that came up was Jim Caldwell. On that basis alone, Jim Caldwell is a winner. Should he win Sunday, he will garner more attention and more accolades and command even more respect. But he doesn't need a ranking to be classified as a worthy successor to Tony Dungy.