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Mailbag: Manning questions? Shocker

Aaron Hurley from parts unknown writes: We talk about Peyton Manning's greatness, but we do our best to forget that he has always been surrounded by first round picks - sometimes high ones - and Pro Bowlers like Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Ken Dilger, Marcus Pollard, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, Donald Brown and Anthony Gonzalez. We also forget that Manning didn't win a playoff game until his 5th year AND has lost in the first round in 6 of his 9 trips DESPITE all that talent around him. Yet we want to act all shocked that David Garrard can't get it done with Mike Sims-Walker, Maurice Jones-Drew, and nothing else, including a terrible offensive line and a bad defense? Where would Jacksonville be with Manning at QB? The same place they are now: a non-playoff team. (What if Mark Sanchez played for the Jags instead of a team with a great running game, outstanding defense and good WRs? They don't even go 7-9 with 4 losses by a TD or less.) Why don't we get to see Manning play with a terrible team on offense, and THEN see how great he is. As if Manning would have transformed that bunch in Jacksonville into Pro Bowlers with his brilliant play or something. And yes, the same goes for Drew Brees: it took the guy 10 years to get his first playoff victory despite all the talent that he had around him in New Orleans AND San Diego.

Paul Kuharsky: I’ll grant you there is a chicken and egg argument. Does the quarterback make the cast better or does the cast make the quarterback?

But swap Garrard and Manning right now. The Jaguars get significantly better and the Colts get significantly worse.

I don’t buy grading QBs down for having good people around them. Am I supposed to blame Manning for being on a team smart enough to judge talent and surround him with it? No. Am I supposed to grade Garrard up because he doesn’t have offensive personnel to match? No.

How much time does Garrard get?

The big issue here is that they jumped the gun to give him the big contract.

Craig Montgomery in Seymour, IN writes: With both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning up for new contracts, the discussion about who should be the higher-paid player has popped up. Ron Jaworski says, because of the "jewelry", Brady should be the highest paid player. While I agree that Brady is an outstanding QB, I think Jaws is off his rocker (not the first time, by the way). If the number of rings determines the amount of money a player should be paid, and, by proxy, the level of value a player has on the team, Doug Williams should have made more money than Dan Marino. The amount of money paid to a player should be based upon how easily he could be replaced. Not to lessen the importance of TB to the Pats, but Matt Cassel lead them to an 11-5 season when TB was hurt. Does anyone think Curtis Painter could lead the team to such a record? Agree or disagree?

Paul Kuharsky: Agreed with you for a while, but you lost me at the end.

Yes, Manning is nearly impossible to replace and that adds to his value. But Jim Sorgi getting hurt or the Colts’ failure to have an adequate backup isn’t one of the 100s of reasons I would pay Manning. What's he have to do with that except that by being durable he makes it a non-concern? And that the Pats were able to win with Cassel shouldn’t make Brady, who's won three Super Bowl, less valuable in my eyes.

Derek from Mitchell, IN writes: You look like Anthony Gonzales' dad, in the two photos on your article about him. Go Colts.

Paul Kuharsky: So what I am hearing you say is that Mr. Gonzalez is a very handsome fellow?

Jason in Philadelphia writes: Injuries can ruin a team and it's chance to make a serious playoff/ Super Bowl run, but I think injuries can also benefit a team. If Bledsoe wasn't hurt in '01 Tom Brady may have never broken out like he did. If Gonzo, Sanders, Jackson, and Hayden weren't hurt this year it may have taken much longer to find out how valuable Garcon, Collie, Bullitt, Powers, and Lacey actually are. Indy was the 2nd most injured team this season (so i've heard) and they are in the Super Bowl. If that doesn't preach the importance of solid scouting and coaching, I don't know what does. Must be nice to have all that depth at WR and DB.

Paul Kuharsky: Absolutely it is, though I am not sure they think their corner depth extends beyond Tim Jennings, and I know a lot of people aren’t high on him. If Aaron Francisco or T.J. Rushing is on the field, I would think the Saints have a mismatch to exploit.