Friday, January 27, 2012

5 comments So What To Do about Peyton Manning?

Many of you have probably read the insightful interview Peyton Manning did with Bob Kravitz recently and noticed that Peyton didn't seem that happy with the Colts personnel moves, the mood around the Colts organization or with the Colts in general. Not surprising. Peyton doesn't like change because he sees the Colts as his team and doesn't like any uncertainty that would cause him to think the Colts aren't "his" team. Firing Bill Polian and getting rid of a head coach Peyton Manning liked isn't a way to endear Manning to stick around. I think this interview was the beginning of the end of Manning with the Colts organization, unless something I am not able to predict changes. So I figured I would go line-by-line through the interview and then predict where Manning ends up if/when he gets traded. At this point, it is way too early to predict where Manning may go if he even leaves, but what it is just too much fun speculating.

I originally started writing this post earlier this week thinking we would have a few weeks before any further information on Manning would be known. I figured the Colts would read the interview and think about what Manning had to say for a few weeks. I was wrong. Lo and behold, Jim Irsay came out and said Manning sounded like a politician. So I think it is safe to say, Manning probably isn't sticking around in Indy. It just doesn't look like Manning will be with the Colts in two months, but a lot has happened regarding the Colts and Manning from two months back. So pretty much anything can happen I guess.

Back in November, I took a look at Andrew Luck. It's irks me how dated that post looks right now. Not because I think the writing was terrible, but because of how quickly things change in the NFL. I had Miami and the Broncos on the list of teams that could land Luck. The Dolphins turned their season around and the Broncos made the damn playoffs and won a playoff game. I floated the idea of the Colts passing over Luck in that post, which obviously isn't going to happen at this point, but my bigger point was that I can't see Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck co-existing. I still don't see those two co-existing very well and I think Peyton's interview manages to back this thinking up in some ways.

There had been a little fan fiction going around the sportswriting universe earlier in the NFL season that Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck could co-exist and Manning would "mentor" Luck. I'm not sure any sportswriters came out and said that Luck and Manning would be best friends, but there was general thinking out there the two could co-exist. I thought this was a crock of shit, but took the wrong point of view in analyzing this situation. I took the point of view that Luck wouldn't go to the Colts because the Colts would be loyal to Manning. I never thought that Manning would force a trade or want out, which he hasn't done yet, but at some point soon the Colts will have to make a decision to pick up Manning's option, trade Manning before the March deadline or let him go as a free agent. For fear of quoting myself from the post, here is what I said back in November,

I have no doubt Manning will be back on the field for the Colts and I can't think of any circumstances right now that would cause the Colts to trade him when they draft Andrew Luck. So knowing Manning will be on the roster, do you really think he is going to spend the last few years of his Hall of Fame career "mentoring" Andrew Luck, a guy who is by all accounts very NFL-ready? Or do you think Manning will want to try and win one last Super Bowl and not give a shit about Luck being mentored?

I see the Colts drafting Luck and ending up with a Favre-Rodgers situation (which turned out fine for the Packers, granted), except the Aaron Rodgers (Luck) in this situation probably wouldn't want to sit the bench for more than one year. Peyton Manning may be perfectly willing to "mentor" Andrew Luck, but given his stranglehold on the Colts offense and it is clear Manning likes having this power, I don't know if he would be willing to be a placeholder/teacher for a few years.

So I was wrong in thinking Manning would have the upper hand in this situation and Luck would be the guy who didn't end up on the Colts team next year. I couldn't foresee a situation where the Colts traded Manning because I thought Bill Polian would be around, so I was wrong about that. I think it is clear the Colts are drafting Andrew Luck at #1 overall and Manning will end up being the guy whose roster spot is in question. I think it is clear (at least when reading between the lines, which I acknowledge can be dangerous) from the Kravitz interview that Manning isn't necessarily happy with the direction the Colts are going. So he could very well be the one gone and any earlier thoughts about Manning willing to "mentor" Luck is fan fiction perpetuated by people that so desperately wants to see Manning groom his replacement in order to write stories about it.

A lot of Manning's frustration in this article is about the direction of the Colts in terms of front office moves, but I would submit some of his frustration lies in the Colts willingness to move on with or without him. Drafting Andrew Luck is one of the first steps in this process. Manning sees the Colts organization getting rid of Polian and Caldwell and possibly looking for a fresh start. He knows a 36 year old quarterback coming off major neck surgery probably isn't a huge part of this fresh start. So while it isn't official that Manning may be gone in Indy, the odds are pretty good right now I think he's isn't playing for them in 2012.

(I'm going to be doing a lot of translating what I think Manning actually means. Just a note, so I could interpret it wrong. If you think I do get it wrong, please tell me.)

He sounded comfortable. Which was strange for a man who wants to control every little detail in his life. Because he's at a point now where he's not in control -- of his health, of his future, of anything.

This is what I found to be interesting about those who thought, or even suggested, Luck and Manning could co-exist (the number of people who believed this in September is much less than those that believe this now). Manning wants to control everything. He is the Colts offense. He isn't going to want another quarterback looking over his shoulder nor will he want to be teaching a younger quarterback to replace him. Manning considers himself to be the offensive coordinator and the head coach of the offense. Do we really believe if the Colts start making changes he hasn't approved or ask him to "mentor" Luck, which would take away from Manning's game preparation in some ways, he would do it?

In a wide-ranging talk, the Indianapolis Colts future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback addressed a number of pressing topics, including his health, his sadness over the firings of several coaches, his minimal relationship with new general manager Ryan Grigson

For the record, Manning and Grigson finally met, briefly, last week when they ran across each other at the team's complex.

Awkward. He doesn't know Grigson and probably had no input in Grigson's hire.

"One thing he kind of, sort of told me, without really wanting to tell me, was that Irsay will be the guy I'm going to sit down and talk with,"

I'm going to do some reading between the lines. This tells me Manning feels like he is being left out of the loop in some ways like he hasn't been left out of the loop in a while. Manning refers to Grigson telling him something, but not wanting to actually tell him, meaning Grigson was holding back. He also calls Jim Irsay, "Irsay," which I am not sure is a lack of respect or possibly disdain that a non-football person will be making a football decision about Manning's future with the team. I think it is somewhat obvious Manning believes the GM should be talking to him, not the owner. I could be wrong.

"That's going to happen at some point, but we haven't had that conversation yet because we really don't need to have that conversation yet."

Basically, Manning is saying his $28 million bonus isn't due for another few weeks and Manning's health isn't in better focus, so there is no reason to talk about breaking up with each other quite yet. The breakup will happen, it just isn't time for "the talk."

Manning didn't express anger about the firing of coach Jim Caldwell and so many assistant coaches as much as he expressed sadness, wistfulness even.

To me, the fact Manning was sad and wistful tells me even more that Manning doesn't anticipate coming back to the Colts...or he at least anticipates if he is back that things won't ever be the same. It's the end of an era for Manning. Anger expresses rage at what has been done, while sadness and wistfulness indicates to me a sense of resignation to what will eventually occur.

When Manning hasn't been rehabilitating, he has been calling other franchises and offering recommendations on behalf of the departed coaches.

Manning has probably also gauged those team's interest in trading for him. You know Manning dropped hints on the phone. It is clear with all of this change in action that Manning isn't comfortable. So while giving recommendations, Manning can also allow a team to know his potential availability.

Through some of Manning's (perhaps) whining and wistfulness he should be also realize how fortunate he is. Other quarterbacks have to deal with coaching changes and personnel changes more often than Manning has had to. So while I understand Manning's feelings, it is hard to have sympathy for a grown man who has had major stability in his professional life for so long in an industry with very little stability. At some point, there is change within every organization.

But when it's every day in a relationship business . . . with Bill (Polian), with Marvin (Harrison), Edge (Edgerrin James), guys who retire, get cut, traded or fired, it's just really hard.

"I just want to pay tribute to all those guys. It's unfortunate because so many of them have been such a big part of so many big wins here, and this is so . . . so . . . so sudden. Their keys didn't work the next day. There's no other way to do it? I don't know.

When you fire someone, there isn't another way of doing it. You can't give a player who is a free agent a key to the facilities and once a guy gets fired (Polian) he probably shouldn't have a key either. I also find it interesting Manning brought up Edgerrin James. That was five or six years ago when James left and it is clear Manning still isn't thrilled over it.

"I don't want to get into some kind of fan campaign with the owner, but I think it's well-documented that I want to play in the same place my whole career,"

Manning doesn't want to get into a fan campaign. Which is why he is doing an interview with an Indianapolis newspaper saying he wants to stay with the Indianapolis Colts.

As for Manning's health, he's not all the way back yet, but he's not going to put any percentages on his recovery, nor will he predict whether he'll be at full strength by early March, when a $28 million option bonus is due.

"All I know is, I'm still under contract to the Colts. I'm still the quarterback of the Colts. That's why I'm in the building every day trying to get healthy."

Again, Manning refers to not knowing much when he says, "All I know..." You get the feeling he really feels out of the loop and knows he probably isn't as in the Colts' future plans as much as he would like to be.

And when it's time to make an announcement one way or the other, Manning hopes he can do it on his terms.

"Hopefully," he said, "Sodapop Curtis doesn't tweet it before I can say anything."

Manning referred to Rob Lowe twice in the interview as "Sodapop Curtis," which really isn't an insult, but I also get the feeling he was using this term derisively. Manning was probably pretty irritated Lowe announced his "retirement" on Twitter. You've probably read a lot of the other quotes Manning had, but this interview was my first big indication that Manning believes he will either (a) be traded or (b) released prior to his $28 million bonus being due.

There is a new GM, new coach, new players and the Colts even have a successor to Manning in mind. You can sense a little bitterness in Manning's quotes, where I get the feeling he feels like he should have been consulted or warned in some fashion about the Colts upcoming personnel moves. I am not sure if we will see another Favre/Rodgers situation because you get the feeling Manning sees the writing on the wall and he isn't an asshole like Favre was. Either way, I get the feeling if Manning is kept around he won't react well to the Colts drafting Andrew Luck and seeing the Colts build a coaching staff and team around a quarterback that isn't Manning himself. Manning sees himself as the starter and this probably won't ever change.

Now for the fun part. Let's take a guess at where Manning ends up if/when he gets traded or released by the Colts. I'm assuming Manning will end up being healthy enough to play in 2012. We know Manning is going to want to be the starter no matter where he ends up. I think that's a given. I have a hard time figuring out where Manning could go. Still, I will try to figure out which team Mannings ends up playing for, while including the percent chance Manning ends up with that team in parenthesis.

Arizona (10%): Doubt it. Just traded for Kevin Kolb and signed him to a new contract. Still.....if the Cardinals think Kolb doesn't have a future maybe they make a move for Manning. We know Larry Fitzgerald would love it. One of the worst things a team can do is insist on compounding mistakes by not fixing them. If the Cardinals consider Kolb to be a mistake, would they consider getting rid of him and handing the team to Manning?

Atlanta (0%): Have Matty Icccccccccccccccce. No way.

Baltimore (13%): I don't want to see Joe Flacco cry, so I'm going with no, but I can't rule it out. Ravens fans probably would say I am full of shit and they may end up being right. This would definitely be an "out of the box" move by the Ravens if they aren't high on Flacco long-term and would like to avoid giving him a contract extension. It sounds crazy, but the Ravens have had an offense that holds them back at times (though that wasn't necessarily the case in the AFC Championship Game as much as other times) and could the Ravens look to upgrade to make another Super Bowl while their defense is still dominant.

Buffalo (5%): Just signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a new contract. The Bills probably wouldn't trade for Manning since they have quite a few other needs.

Carolina (0%): Have Cam Newton. No way.

Chicago (0%): They have Jay Cutler starting and he is going to have extra motivation to stay at the Bears' facility for extra preparation and film study since he will have a whiny baby and an even more whiny Kristin Cavialallairrri at home. Cutler will probably end up being an All-Pro QB in 2012. I can't imagine why he would want to go home to deal with all the whining, being constantly needy for attention and crying over every small the newborn baby will make some noise too, of course.

Cincinnati (0%): Have Andy Dalton. No way.

Cleveland Browns (10%): Well, they have Colt McCoy, so basically they could use a starting quarterback. I could see them as a strong candidate if the Browns want to give McCoy another couple of years watching on the bench or want to draft a developmental quarterback later in the 2012 draft and then let Manning lead the team for a couple of years in the hopes their developmental quarterback is ready. This would be a good strategy because Manning wouldn't feel threatened because he knows he is the starter and he only has a few years left anyway, so if the Browns do still like McCoy they could keep him around. Still, I'm not sure I see the Browns going this route. It may just be easier (and less expensive) to draft their new starting quarterback in the 2012 draft.

Dallas (1%): I don't underestimate Jerry Jones ever. Still, I don't see this happening.

Denver (0%): Yeah, right. Not happening.

Detroit Lions (o%): Nope. Got Matthew Stafford.

Green Bay (0%): No way in Hell will this happen. I'm embarrassed I even included Green Bay on this list.

Houston (1%): Assuming Matt Schaub doesn't have a huge setback with his rehab there isn't any way this would happen. If Matt Schaub wasn't going to return from his injury, I think Houston would be a very intriguing place for Manning to end up. Regardless, it isn't happening.

Jacksonville (1%): I can only imagine Peyton Manning throwing to the Jags receivers. He would go insane and start doing the Dan Marino-like pointing at his receivers while berating them for running the wrong routes. I think Manning would veto this regardless, but I don't see Jacksonville making a run for him.

Kansas City (3%): Not likely at all. They have already done the "Acquire a Hall of Fame quarterback at the tail end of his career" thing with Joe Montana. It worked fairly well for them, but with Orton and Cassel on the roster I think we can rule this out. I believe the Chiefs will stick with Matt Cassel for the time being. Though I could see how they would be tempted.

Miami (4%): Not likely either. The Dolphins will probably look for a quarterback in the draft, rather than acquire Manning. If the Dolphins had a coach that wasn't in his first season, I could see them acquiring Manning. What I mean is new coaches generally like to bring in new quarterbacks they can build the team around and I'm not sure Manning fits the bill for Joe Philbin. Philbin will probably want a quarterback who is a placeholder for a year or two until the Dolphins draft another quarterback or bring in his own guy to play quarterback.

Minnesota Vikings (0%): The Vikings seem to like Christian Ponder. I know the Vikings got burned with McNabb and Favre sticking around for another year after he took them to the NFC Championship Game. I am going with a very confident "no."

New England (0%): No.

New Orleans (0%): Double no.

New York Giants (0%): Triple no.

New York Jets (15%): The Jets are a popular choice. It makes sense in that many believe Mark Sanchez is holding the team back and the Jets have never been around of making big acquisitions. Perhaps the reputation of the Jets plays into this more than it should, but it seems the Jets need leadership in the locker room and need their quarterback to take more ownership of the offense. Plus, can't you see the media salivating over a Manning-Brady matchup twice a year? Manning would seemingly be a short-term upgrade for the Jets and Rex Ryan has job security, but he also needs to make the playoffs and win games to keep this job security. I can see the Jets going for it.

Oakland Raiders (0%): Not unless the Raiders want to use the rest of their 2012 and 2013 draft picks to acquire Manning. Not that the Colts would ask for all those picks in a trade, but I have a feeling the Raiders would offer all of those picks anyway.

Philadelphia Eagles (1%): I know the Eagles just signed Mike Vick to a huge deal, but I give it 1% in case the Eagles and Andy Reid want to take a huge step towards "improving" the team (I put "improving" in parenthesis because I don't know if Manning would be an improvement) to save his job. Still, I think it won't happen. Eagles fans are probably laughing at me for putting it at 1% since it probably isn't financially feasible anyway.

Pittsburgh (0%): No chance.

San Diego (0%): No chance.

Seattle (2%): The only reason I put the Seahawks at 2% is if Pete Carroll seems to believe he will miss out on any franchise quarterbacks in the upcoming draft and doesn't want to go with Tarvaris Jackson in the upcoming year. I don't see Manning going to the Seahawks, but if Carroll sees a chance to win a few games in his third year and have his first winning season in Seattle, maybe he takes a chance on acquiring Manning. As much as we recall Carroll's playoff victory over the Saints, we have to remember he is 14-18 as the head coach for the Seahawks. A winning season would be nice and it doesn't look like winning games in the NFC West is getting any easier.

San Francisco (0%): Regardless of what you think about Alex Smith, even if he isn't re-signed I can see Colin Kaepernick getting a chance at the starting job. Of course, Smith will be re-signed.

St. Louis (1%): I don't see the Rams making a run at Peyton Manning necessarily for a couple reasons. First, they do have Sam Bradford under contract. Second, if they were getting a new quarterback it would be in the upcoming draft. Still, there is a chance Jeff Fisher will want to start over with a new quarterback and Bradford may have trade value. There's very little chance Fisher pursues Manning, but the option is open I would guess.

Tampa Bay (3%): Depending on what Greg Schiano thinks about his development there is a chance Josh Freeman won't be in favor with him and Schiano will want veteran leadership for this young team. Still, I doubt Manning ends up in Tampa Bay. The Bucs will probably just stick with Freeman, which I think is more likely. I put Tampa Bay at 3% since it is such a young, talented team and I think Manning would work well with them.

Tennessee Titans (0%): Nah. The Titans seem happy with Locker and Hasselbeck at this point.

Washington Redskins (30%): I know, I know. It is a stereotype. The stereotype is Daniel Snyder always wants to make quick fixes and will go after the best free agent or player out there in an effort to get this quick fix. Stereotypes are grounded in reality though and the reality is signing or trading for Peyton Manning is something I can see the the Redskins doing. I have a hard time believing Mike Shanahan will waste any more of his genius working with John Beck or Rex Grossman and is going to want to reinforce his reputation by attaching his star to another Hall of Fame quarterback. Not to mention, the Redskins could very easily miss out on the best quarterbacks drafting in the #6 spot of the NFL Draft. This just fits. Shanahan needs to win games and remind everyone what an offensive genius he is when he has a Hall of Fame quarterback and Daniel Snyder doesn't mind spending the money or taking the risk on Manning.



rich said...

From what I understand, the problem is that the Colts aren't even talking to Manning about the moves they're making.

He's very close to retirement and changing coaches and the front office basically screams that they're giving up on the next few years. So I can completely understand a future HOFer getting a little upset about these things.

Then you add in the fact that they're drafting Luck and honestly, I can't imagine Manning wanting to stick around. Not in a Brett Favre "I'm not helping the new guy" kind of way, but in a "I'm not playing for a 5-11 team in my last year" way.

I think had Indy done what GB did, which is make smart coaching decisions (Caldwell was a bad choice from the beginning and only looked good due to Manning), get a future starter while still fielding a competitive team... it would have worked. Unlike Favre, I can see Manning walking away after a trip to the Championship game.

Of course, hiring Caldwell (a bad coach) and a terrible string of drafts leaves the team with really no option but to do what they've done.

So it's the worst case scenario. The Colts have no choice but to fire Caldwell and Polian and try to rebuild because the team just isn't very good. However, Manning has every right to be pissed off that the franchise he rebuilt didn't talk to him about any of the moves and basically told him that if he remained a Colt, he'd be playing on a terrible team.

While, I sympathize and agree with what the Colts are doing, the manner they've already discarded Manning is kind of sickening to me. The only thing I can see at this point is releasing Manning before the bonus kicks in and Manning goes to a contending team that needs a QB.

Justin Zeth said...

One thing I think you missed is, the Colts can't trade Manning. He is due a $28 million bonus before trading season opens, and if the Colts pay it the cap acceleration makes Manning untradeable. And Manning's recent media warfare is almost certainly aimed at procuring his release. The Colts are going to have to release him.

If he wants to maximize his money he'll be going to Washington. I don't think that's really a controversial suggestion on my part.

But you know... Peyton Manning started his career with Jim Mora (God bless Jim Mora) and didn't get along with him at all. Ever since, all his major success has come with *extremely* mild-mannered, conservative glorified defensive coordinators that let Manning have total control of the offense.

We also all know how obsessive Manning is with having a comfort zone. Pretty much his whole career has taught us that.

So I think it's a lot more likely than you do that he will go to Kansas City, where Romeo Crennel will likely be exactly the kind of coach he's looking for.

That's if he plays again, which is not a foregone conclusion, of course.

I will be surprised if he plays in 2012 and it's not for the Redskins, Chefs or Jets.

(I bet he would LOVE Atlanta, though, if only they could be persuaded to dump Matt Ryan. So I'd call that more like 2% or 5% than 0%.)

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I can sort of understand Manning's POV as well. I do feel like he is being a bit whiny, but I guess there is some cause for that. There's no way Manning will be there next year.

The one thing I don't get is how Irsay is now a really hands-on owner. I don't recall him being this way 3 years ago but now he has a Twitter account and is becoming very hands-on.

Caldwell wasn't a great coach and I think Manning really isn't sad he was fired, but more is sad that he didn't have say in the decision and he knows his status is up in the air at this point.

The Colts have treated Manning sort of badly, but I also wish Manning would be a bit more mature, which he has been w/ the latest joint statement b/w he and Irsay. Manning is very fortunate to be w/ a great organization that had a ton of stability. He needs to realize player movement and tough decisions will be made. I agree with the Colts moves, but do think they went about it a bit harsh.

It's funny that Polian has a rep as a huge asshole, but all the asshole moves were done a/f Polian was gone.

Justin, I didn't know that. I feel stupid b/c I didn't look that up. That's what I get I guess.

Either way, I think the Colts would probably release him then. Going into this post, I had no notions about where Manning would go. I concluded Washington was the most likely spot, though what you said about the offense and Shanahan does make me doubt it a bit, I have to say. I think Shanahan could put aside his ego, because he is going to have to start winning in Washington or he could be in trouble. Saving your own ass trumps ego every time.

So you have it at the Redskins, Jets or Chiefs. I really thought more about Houston and though I know Schaub is there, that would be a really great spot for Manning. It's in the division, he could have the offense and they already have weapons in place. Schaub is only 30 though, so he probably doesn't go there.

I can see him in Baltimore too. I can't think of any other places he would want to go where he could have run of the offense. I think the 49ers are a no-go, contrary to some people's opinion.

The Falcons would never get rid of Matt Ryan for Manning. He would like it there, on turf, but the Falcons love Ryan a lot...of course the same could be said for the Texans and Schaub.

Justin Zeth said...

The 49ers are the very obvious "great team except they need a good quarterback", so I think the feeling is, if Peyton wants a ring above all else that's the obvious place to go.

But no way in hell can I see Peyton coexisting with Jim Harbaugh, who is (a) an offensive coach who runs his own offense, (b) a very hands-on coach, and (c) kind of a dick. Rex Ryan is both (b) and (c), but since he's not (a) you could at least see the possibility of his setting his ego aside (as you mentioned with respect to Shanahan) and letting Manning run the offense unquestioned.

I'm pretty sure (assuming Manning doesn't just take the most money) Manning is going to seek a team with a defensive head coach, so that Manning can more or less run his own offense.

Bengoodfella said...

Justin, I know Ryan didn't like the Brett Favre experience too much, but he probably does need to make the playoffs next year to keep his job security. That's why I can see him acceptance Manning playing for the Jets.

I'm not sure Harbaugh would want Manning running the offense for the reasons you mentioned. Not to mention, he seems to have Smith sort of turned around, so I don't see a reason to quit now.