Saturday, December 26, 2009

9 comments Mike Celizic Thinks Peyton Manning Should Play Better Defense

Mike Celizic, who just a few days ago mentioned that Eli Manning should be an outside MVP candidate, seems to believe that Peyton Manning is at fault for the Colts not winning 3 or 4 Super Bowls while he is the quarterback of the team. I mention the "Eli Manning for MVP argument" because in the article Celizic wrote that Eli Manning has the same amount of Super Bowl wins and appearances as his more-famous older brother, Peyton. This is a true statement, but while indicating that it is primarily the quarterback's responsibility to make and win a Super Bowl, Celizic forgets to remember that football is a team sport and there are other aspects of a team that are required for that team to be successful. Namely, defense and special teams.

While Eli Manning has developed into a nice quarterback for the Giants, it wasn't completely his doing that the Giants made the Super Bowl. He took care of the ball and played well, but the defense of the Giants was the unit responsible for shutting down the Patriots and the other teams the Giants played in those playoffs. Look at Eli Manning's playoff statistics. They are not bad, but they are also not overwhelmingly impressive. It's clear Eli helped the Giants make the Super Bowl, it wasn't completely his doing the Giants won 4 games on the road to the Super Bowl.

All of this is relevant today because Mike Celizic thinks that Peyton Manning is responsible for the Colts not winning more Super Bowls. He thinks Peyton deserves more heat for the Colt's playoff failures. I personally believe that while Peyton Manning hasn't exactly lit it up in his playoff appearances, the Colts lack of success is more of a team failure than a individual failure. I also believe any sportswriter who doesn't understand football is a team sport and does some research into other famous QB's playoff stats will see why Manning doesn't get the heat he "deserves" for the Colts playoff defeats.

In seven years, Peyton Manning will be 40 years old, and you can make book right now that you won’t find him playing for any team other than the Colts.

This is exactly the same thing everyone thought about Joe Montana, Brett Favre (not counting his time as a Falcon), Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, and a long list of other athletes not only in football but other sports as well. Who would have thought Michael Jordan would ever not be a Chicago Bull? Dan Marino almost came back to play for the Minnesota Vikings (what is so alluring about the Vikings to older quarterbacks?).

So basically, it is very premature to say Manning is going to play for the Colts his entire NFL career. If it all goes to hell for the Colts over the next couple of years, who is to say Manning wouldn't accept an offer from a team to come play for them or wouldn't be traded to another team?

And he will never fight with his coach over anything, whether it’s playing time or a pizza order.

I don't think we can say "never," but since Peyton Manning currently basically runs the Colts offense, this is a fairly safe bet to come true. If Manning ever loses some power to make play calls, audibles, or decisions on the field then he very well may start fighting with his head coach.

Who would have ever thought that Brad Childress would try and challenge the authority of Brett Favre? The same thing could happen a few years from now to Peyton Manning. I try not to say "never" anytime it comes to what athletes and teams will choose to do in the future.

I hope we think about that and appreciate it when the time comes, although it’s more likely we won’t.

Yes, if only there was some way we could appreciate Peyton Manning a little bit more. Here is a list of his major endorsement contracts from 2006. I would assume he has gained another one or two of them since that time. Peyton Manning and his Colts team are shown several times on national television playing their football games. Manning is also widely considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.

At some point, I am sure we will all start appreciating him a little bit more. Maybe we should build a statue in front of the White House or make his birthday as a national holiday? Outside of being given those two things, Manning is pretty well appreciated among the media and fans alike.

Good behavior tends to slip past our radar.

This is a one page article and Mike Celizic is killing space. That can't bode well for the rest of the column.

That’s why this year has been all about Brett Favre in the NFL. He spent the summer dancing the retirement tango, then won a bunch of games for the Vikings, and now he’s getting into sideline battles with his coach and forcing his teammates to choose between his ego and the coach’s authority.

I wouldn't exactly call what Favre has done as "bad behavior," but more like it was diva behavior that reflected poorly upon him. Since the beginning of the NFL season very few people have focused on Favre's retirement dance the past couple of summers and have begun focusing on his great performance as a quarterback at the age of 40 for the Vikings. Only this past Monday has anyone even thought about criticizing or focusing on Favre usurping his coach's authority...partially because no one knew this was happening.

This year, he’s the quarterback of the last undefeated team in the NFL.

I haven't heard anything about this. Why hasn't the media focused on the success of Manning and the Colts at all this season? I would think at some point there would be a story about Manning and the Colts coming close to having a perfect season. Where is Peter King to talk about this when you need him? WHY HASN'T ANYONE MENTIONED THE COLTS ARE PERFECT???? WHERE ARE YOU NATIONAL MEDIA WHEN I NEED YOU TO TELL ME THESE THINGS????

If he stays healthy, by the time he retires he’ll hold every passing record there is.

Not the record for most interceptions all-time. Brett Favre seems to have a stranglehold on that record.

Yet always, it seems, the story is about someone else who’s more interesting or more flamboyant or more charismatic or in more trouble with the law.

I have no idea what Mike Celizic is talking about here. Maybe because he only pays attention to teams from Boston and New York he doesn't realize Sports Illustrated did an entire mega-feature on Manning this year. I don't know how Celizic can miss this, but Manning is considered the best quarterback in the NFL right now by many people. I don't know how Celizic can say the story is always about another quarterback, because that is in no way accurate.

Let's just say, Peyton Manning is kind of a big deal...people know him.

This is a shame, because Peyton Manning is the face of excellence in the NFL or any sport.

The NFL knows this, which is why they have made him the face of the NFL and he is featured in pretty much any national advertisement for the NFL, has hosted Saturday Night Live, and you can't watch an NFL game on a Sunday without seeing an advertisement featuring his face.

He plays the most difficult position in sports with a level of skill not seen since, well, since forever. And nobody seems to notice.

I don't know if Manning is the best quarterback of all-time, which is what Celizic is indicating here, but he is definitely up there in the rankings. Also, everyone notices how great Manning is at being a quarterback. I am not sure there has ever been a football season that has gone by in which thousands of people haven't noticed that Peyton Manning is a good football player and a good citizen.

How about something regarding his failure to get to the Super Bowl other than in 2006, the year he won it?

Yes, Peyton Manning is a bum because he didn't play defense and special teams well during his career when the AFC has won 8 of the 11 Super Bowls since Manning entered the NFL in 1998. It's all his fault he plays in a tough conference and he can't singlehandedly score 40 points every playoff game to get his team into the Super Bowl. Every. Single. Year.

Manning and the Colts won four playoff games that year. Since then, they’ve won zero playoff games despite 25 regular-season wins in the past two seasons. Shouldn’t the greatest quarterback in the game do a bit better than that?

Yes, the greatest quarterback in the game should do a little bit better than that. Unfortunately, Peyton Manning is not the only player on his team, so he can't singlehandedly defeat other playoff teams. We also have to remember that Manning has played his entire career in a strong AFC Conference. The Patriots and the Steelers both have had strong teams nearly the entire decade. It's not like the Colts were the best team year after year.

Another fact to remember is the Colts do have 25 regular season wins over the past couple of seasons, but the NFL playoffs are a win-or-go-home one game deal...and most of the time the Colts are playing another strong AFC team, so it's not like they can just run over whichever team they play in the playoffs.

I don't mean to sound like Peter King, but the only reason the Colts didn't win a ROAD playoff game last year is because of a coin flip in overtime. I make fun of Peter King for talking about this a lot, but this fact has to be acknowledged here.

The talk in Indianapolis is about whether the Colts should charge to the finish line bound and determined to finish the season undefeated or follow the franchise tradition of throwing away meaningless late-season games in the interests of keeping Manning and other key players healthy.

The real question has nothing to do with the next two games and everything to do with the ones to follow.

Will the Colts be able to run the ball well enough to win a playoff game? Can the slightly beat-up Colts defense handle a tough playoff game against a good team, even if they are playing at home? I don't know of too many other questions I can think of right now.

Is Manning going to win them? And if not this year, then when?

I am pretty tired of Mike Celizic blaming Peyton Manning solely for the Colts playoff struggles. Let's look at Peyton Manning's playoff statistics (using completion percentage, TD/INT ratio, yards passing, and QB rating) and team record versus other Hall of Fame caliber quarterbacks of his era to see where Manning ranks in regards to playoff performance:

Peyton Manning: 61.7%, 22 TD/17 INT, 4208 yards (280.5 y/g), 85.0 rating. (Team record: 7-8)

Tom Brady: 62.5%, 26 TD/12 INT, 3954 yards (232.6 y/g), 88.0 rating (Team record: 14-3)

Joe Montana: 62.7%, 45 TD/ 21 INT, 5772 yards (251.0 y/g), 95.6 rating (Team record: 16-7)

Steve Young: 62.0%, 20 TD/ 13 INT, 3326 yards (166.3 /g), 85.8 rating (Team record: 12-8)

Dan Marino: 56.0%, 32 TD/ 24 TD, 4510 yards (250.6 y/g), 77.1 rating (Team record: 8-10)

Troy Aikman: 63.7%, 23 TD/ 17 TD, 3849 yards (240.6 y/g), 88.3 rating (Team record: 11-5)

Brett Favre: 60.7%, 39 TD/ 28 INT, 5311 yards (241.4 y/g), 85.2 rating (Team record: 12-10)

John Elway: 54.5%, 27 TD/ 21 INT, 4964 yards (225.6 y/g), 79.7 rating (Team record: 14-8)

This information tells me several things:

1. The Colts may have been behind in many of the playoff games they played in because Peyton Manning has thrown for more yards than any of the other quarterbacks I compared here. Or the Colts may just throw the ball a lot in the playoffs.

2. As far as team record goes, there has to be other variables to a team's success other than how the quarterback performs. What else explains the fact John Elway's team has a 14-8 record in the playoffs despite the fact he has performed significantly worse than Peyton Manning has in the playoffs? John Elway has two Super Bowl rings and it's not solely because of him that his team won the Super Bowl.

3. Even when compared to his counterpart and arch-rival Tom Brady, Manning still doesn't have significantly worse playoff statistics. So why does Brady's team have a 14-3 record while the Colts have a 7-8 record? Is it because Brady is more clutch than Manning or are there are other variables present that affected the outcome of the game? It could also have to do with the fact the Patriots were a better team than the Colts when they faced each other in the playoffs. (The answer is "there are other variables present that affected the outcome of the game.")

4. Has Peyton Manning been lights out in the playoffs? No, but his statistics have been nearly as good as quarterbacks who won multiple Super Bowls.

5. Mike Celizic is wrong to blame the Colts playoff woes on Peyton Manning not stepping up when he needs to.

If his skills are at a peak, so is his career. It’s time to separate himself from all the one-ring quarterbacks in league history and get that second title under his belt.

I am sure that Peyton Manning would love to have another Super Bowl ring but it's not completely up to him. The Colts defense has to play well and certain breaks have to go the team's way as well.

For example, Nick Harper can't get tripped up by Ben Roethlisberger desperately grabbing him as he is racing to get a touchdown off a fumble by Jerome Bettis. Another example of luck coming into play is the Colts also can't lose a coin toss in overtime that gives the opponent the ball first. There are other situations that are too "what-if" for me, like how the Patriots had a mini-dynasty in the 2000's when Belichick had Manning's number, what if that hadn't happened? Would the Colts have more Super Bowl appearances and victories?

Overall should the Colts defense have stopped the Chargers last year in overtime and in the matchups they had with the Patriots the playoffs? Yes, they should have potentially won 1 or more of these games, but that's exactly my point. The Colts record in the playoffs is not dependent solely on Peyton Manning's performance.

And then, if he wants people 40 years from now to say he was as good as Tom Brady, he’d better start working on Nos. three and four.

This is the same thing people were saying about Alex Rodriguez before he won the World Series with the Yankees this past year. The playoffs are a small sample size, in fact the NFL playoffs are an even smaller sample size than in the NBA, NHL, and MLB. Peyton Manning is as good as Tom Brady. We have regular season statistics with larger sample sizes that prove this to be true.

I don't know how Mike Celizic can't get there is more that goes into a successful team than a successful quarterback. It's very unfair to blame all the Colt's problems in the playoffs on Peyton Manning. He can only do so much.

We saw it in the NFL a generation ago when Dan Marino was the state-of-the-art in passing. He set all the records that Favre is breaking now and Manning will break in due course. When he retired, critics agreed he was the greatest quarterback ever, even if he never did win a title.

I never agreed to this. Dan Marino is not the greatest quarterback ever.

It wasn’t his fault, they decided, if the Dolphins were never quite good enough on defense when he was in his prime.

This may be partially true, but I also can't help but notice in the sample size of quarterbacks I chose to check out above, Dan Marino arguably has the worst playoff statistics. His team's record is also one of the worst. It would be hypocritical for me to say there is a correlation between Marino's bad statistics and the Dolphins not winning a Super Bowl, while making excuses for Peyton Manning in the same way, I realize this. So I will say Dan Marino didn't help his team make the Super Bowl as much as Peyton Manning helped his team, but both teams had other problems (like defense/special teams/etc.) on the roster neither Marino nor Manning could control.

John Elway's playoff numbers aren't that great either and he won 2 Super Bowls. Was that because he had a good defense and Terrell Davis? If you say "yes" to this then my point has been proven that a team's playoff record is not completely dependent on it's quarterback's performance, so you can't blame a quarterback solely for his team not winning playoff games.

Favre has gotten the same break. He’s won just one title and thrown away shots at a few others. But he’s so darned good slinging the ball that nobody notices.

Yeah, he has proven his entire career he is great at slinging the ball to both teams. And he plays the game like a child so we try to forget all of the negatives about him...or we used to.

Manning is the best passer anyone’s ever seen...But that shouldn’t get him off the hook in the trophy department.

That doesn't get him off the hook for not winning more Super Bowls, but Mike Celizic has to acknowledge there is more that goes into winning a Super Bowl than good quarterback play. Sometimes a quarterback who plays well doesn't win multiple Super Bowls and sometimes a quarterback who plays above average doesn't win a Super Bowl at all. There is no way we can pin the fact the Colts have only won one Super Bowl solely on Peyton Manning.

We can’t say that’s how we judge people and then choose certain players to judge by a different standard.

Teams should be judged by Super Bowl championships. Players can be measured by Super Bowl championships as well, but it needs to be said because football is a TEAM sport it seems slightly unfair to judge one player for his team's performance in the playoffs when his numbers are on par or close to par with his Hall of Fame peers for the era.

I hate to say this, but we also have to remember Manning was coached by a guy, Tony Dungy, who is a great coach, but his teams have a suspicious amount of success the year after he has left the team. Tampa Bay won a Super Bowl after he left the team and the Colts are 14-0 this year after Dungy retired. Dungy is still a great coach, but it's interesting another coach with the players Dungy coached the year before has been more successful. Should we factor this in as well?

Peyton Manning’s gotten them that far. Isn’t it about time he got them to another Super Bowl?

Yes it is. The defense and the special teams also have to play well for Manning to make another Super Bowl as well. You are an idiot if you don't factor this into why the Colts have only made one Super Bowl in Peyton Manning's career. Is Peyton Manning partially responsible for the Colts not making more Super Bowls? Probably, yes. That doesn't mean it is all his fault though or his legacy should be tarnished because of this.


Dylan Murphy said...

I totally agree that Peyton Manning is already recognized as the best QB in the NFL (maybe Brady's tied with him, but I still think Manning is better). I think Celizic is mistaking infamous for famous. We recognize Brady because he's a pretty boy, he had a feel good story being drafted in the 6th round and winning close game after close game. Manning has none of these things. He was EXPECTED to be great. He was the #1 overall pick. He is not a pretty boy. In fact he looks kind of stupid. There's nothing that completely stands out about Manning. Unlike Favre, we don't need to keep justifying his behavior because he's great. Everyone just knows.

Regarding Eli, I'm a Giants fan and even I admit that the claim that he's an MVP candidate is ridiculous. He's only putting up good numbers and carrying the Giants because they cannot run the ball, and are throwing it 40 times a game. So of course his numbers are inflated.

Bengoodfella said...

I see where you are coming from. The expectations for Manning are much higher which means he isn't going to meet a lot of people's expectations of him. He does look stupid, in fact I do the Forrest Gump voice to make him when I watch him play. Obviously he is not stupid. We know he's great and we should know it is not completely his fault the Colts haven't won more Super Bowls.

I think there could be a case for Eli, but I don't think he should be in the discussion if that makes sense. Basically he could be a candidate but the circumstance he is thrown into, what you mentioned, doesn't mean he should be considered a viable candidate...though he is invaluable to the team.

rich said...

Rex Grossman, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Matt Hasselbeck, Eli Manning and played in the same number of SBs.

Peyton Manning has the same number of SB victories as Brett Favre too... but Brett has "fun" out there, so we tend to overlook this fact when it comes to his "legacy."

If you're going to criticize Manning for only having one SB ring you have to:

1. Pile on other QBs who have either the same number or less: Favre, Kelly, Marino, etc.

2. Consider that Manning hasn't even retired once yet, so to say he's overrated bc at this point he only has one SB appearance is asinine.

3. When Peyton went to the Colts they were terrible. That's a vastly different story than Eli going to the Giants, Big Ben going to Pitt, Rivers to SD or even Brady stepping in for the Patriots. Taking a bad team and turning them into an annual threat to win a SB is much different than taking a team that already has pieces in place (read: defense, defense, LT/defense, SB caliber team).

It makes me laugh when writers knock players for a lack of team accomplisments. Completely neglecting that had the Colts had taken Ryan Leaf, they probably wouldn't be a threat to make the playoffs let alone be a legit contender for a SB over the past decade.

Bengoodfella said...

That's a good point that Manning is still fairly young. Elway didn't win his 2 Super Bowls until later in his career and I think Manning still has time.

I don't like it when writers blame individual players for a team's lack of success in a team sport. If Manning was a pitcher in baseball then maybe I could understand the criticism, but his numbers haven't been great in the playoffs, but they also haven't been bad.

It is another issue that Manning took a bad team and made them good. There wasn't a whole lot around him when he got there, absent Marvin Harrison, so I think it's unfair to judge his inability to win multiple Super Bowls on him not individually doing it.

It's fair to criticize him for not living up to his high standards in the playoffs (even though he is playing good teams who most likely play good defense), but Celizic should realize there is more that goes into winning a Super Bowl is than just the quarterback's performance.

KentAllard said...

When Dan Marino retired, if anyone said he was the greatest quarterback ever, no one heard because of all the people arguing about whether John Elway or Joe Montana was the greatest quarterback of all time.

I have no love for any of the Mannings, but you have to be a complete idiot not to realize that Peyton is going down as one of the all-time greats. It is a pity no one's ever heard of him.

Martin said...

Who have people heard about less, Antonio Gates, or Peyton Manning...YOU MAKE THE CALL!!

Brought to you by..."Defense Wins Championships" and "You've got to be able to Run the Ball, and Stop the Run".

Marino and Favre to me are two of a kind, but with Reggie White and Desmond Howard leading the Pack to victory in a Super Bowl, while failing to ever play for Miami. Great QB's who were never the best QB playing at the time, and nowhere, ever, near being the best of all time.

Montana, Elway, Unitas, Otto Graham, Manning, Brady to me would be your 6 to toss into the BoaT discussion. Young, Staubach, Fouts, were all as good as Marino and Favre, and feel free to say they were better, I won't naysay you.

Bengoodfella said...

I know how this is going to come off but you won't find less of a Dan Marino fan than I. I won't argue whether he was a great quarterback or not, obviously he was, but I honestly I could be talked out of putting him in the Top 10 of all-time. He was a great QB but I don't think he was the leader the other guys were. Maybe I have too many memories of him yelling at his receivers at the end of his career or blaming them for something that went wrong on the field. I could be jaded by that, but I always got the feeling his team didn't enjoy playing with him.

I have nothing to back this up, but even with his interceptions and all of that I would probably (maybe) take Favre over Marino. Favre as annoying as he is seems to have some intangibles Marino didn't have...of course Marino may have been a better QB. Now I am confused. Marino was a great quarterback, and I may remember the end of his career a bit much...or his cameo in "Ace Ventura."

Kent, you are right Manning is an all-time great. If only he could be covered a little bit more or someone would talk about it right?

Martin, I love Steve Young. I used to say Young was almost as good as Montana, but I have quieted that down. LOVED Steve Young though.

Martin said...

I'll even go this far. The Colts constantly lose in the playoffs because they are taking 2-4 weeks off every year because they stop playing the last week, 2 or 3, and then get a bye week on top of it. You'd think that after this strategy didn't work the first 4 times or so they'd give up on it. Instead, Mike Celizic thinks it's Mannings fault....

Bengoodfella said...

It's interesting you say that Martin, because I mention that a little bit in the MMQB for today. I am starting believe it is important for a team to play all their players in every game to keep momentum, but I do understand why a coach holds players out.

That being said, I still think it isn't Manning's fault the Colts haven't won multiple Super Bowls.