- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Peyton Manning likes to rely on studying and breaking down what he’s seen.
Going against teams with new coordinators early in the season gives him less to study. Last season all three of his AFC South rivals had new defensive coordinators, and he saw one on opening day. The Colts edged Jacksonville and Mel Tucker, 14-12.
Sunday in Denver, the Colts will see a Broncos defense run by Don Martindale, who replaced Mike Nolan after just one season. (Editorial aside: Denver should have given Nolan, now in Miami, a raise, not sent him packing.)
Last week they also saw a new coordinator, and Perry Fewell’s plan for the Giants against Manning was questionable at best.
“[The Broncos] have a new defensive coordinator, so it will be the second week in a row of playing somewhat of an unfamiliar defense because it’s a new scheme,” Manning said in his Wednesday session with the media. “[They have] a lot of the same players from last year, but a new scheme. You never quite know how a team is going to play against you this early in the season, so there is a lot of unknown there.”
I’d argue that new coordinators facing Manning for the first time are the ones at a disadvantage due to unfamiliarity. If you don’t have much experience trying to adjust to Manning and the Colts’ offense, doing so on the fly can be quite difficult, particularly with the Colts’ pace.
Pregame checkmark to Manning here, no matter how little information he has on Martindale.
Manning also pointed out that a veteran secondary will pose a challenge to his receivers and require him to be especially accurate.
“I think [Champ] Bailey and [André] Goodman are as solid a corner tandem as you can find and there’s nothing Bailey hasn’t seen,” Manning said. “Goodman, I think, is in his ninth year; he’s a veteran. [Brian] Dawkins has been around for a long time. There’s a lot he has seen, and [Renaldo] Hill is a 10-year veteran at safety.
“A lot of experience there, you’re not going to confuse them or trick them. They all still move real well. It’s going to be a tough challenge getting open versus that secondary.”