Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Around the NFC West: Pondering Peyton
By Mike Sando
INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning non-news has dominated the first couple days of Super Bowl week.
That should change as the big game approaches, but for now, the prospect of Manning leaving Indianapolis for another NFL venue is driving discussions throughout the league.
It's just so hard to envision Manning starting fresh on another team after building up so much equity with the Colts. Manning became more integral to the Colts' offensive operation than his own coaches. He was literally coaching the offense on the field during practices.
Instantly replicating elsewhere what Manning established over more than a decade seems impossible. But any team without an established quarterback would have to strongly consider adding Manning even at less than full health if the Colts parted with him.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times answers during his chat a question about whether he would go after Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn if given a chance to play general manager in Seattle. O'Neil: "Manning. I don't even have to think long about it. Here's what you know: Peyton Manning was one of the two greatest quarterbacks in his generation. He's 36 -- which is not prohibitively old for a quarterback -- and yes he has a frightening injury. One that could prevent him from ever playing again. But that injury is also the only reason you have any chance to get him. And that chance is worth what will likely be strictly a financial risk. You're not losing draft picks to acquire him. You're not ruling out the possibility of drafting a young quarterback to groom behind him. Here's what we know about Matt Flynn: He had a couple of really good games stepping in for Aaron Rodgers in an electric offense. I'm not against Matt Flynn, per se, but if you had an option on one or the other, I'm taking Peyton Manning."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who makes a strong push for former Cardinals and Rams defensive back Aeneas Williams as a candidate for Canton. Irving: "I've had those one-on-one battles, where it was just Aeneas and I. I've had those battles with all of those guys you call hall of famers, first-ballot hall of famers: Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders and all of that. I'm not putting any one of them above Aeneas. Not any one of them above Aeneas. No doubt in my mind." Note: Williams is a finalist this year. Somers will be presenting his case to the selectors during the Hall meeting Saturday. Williams' playmaking ability set him apart. He had a knack for the timely play and showed it when he did get a chance to play for winning teams in St. Louis.
Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks colleagues whether they see Rams owner Stan Kroenke keeping the team in St. Louis even though the team will likely have the ability to break its lease following the 2014 season. Jim Thomas: "In the end it comes down to how committed Stan Kroenke is to this market, and I don’t have the answer to that. Because there is, in fact, no realistic way that St. Louis can meet first-tier requirements, you might as well talk about building a new stadium for those kind of dollars. The other factor is how ready really is Los Angeles to build a new stadium for an NFL team?"
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expands on the same subject, focusing on Kroenke: "You might not like him right now because he refuses to tell you what you want to hear. No comforting words are coming out of his mouth. I, on the other hand, prefer his silence to the feel-good lies that I have heard from too many other pro sports moguls who would rather play the disingenuous PR spin game in public, then do all sorts of mischief behind your back. We'll know soon enough what his intentions are. So in the meantime, let's be clear: He's not the bad guy, just the one with most of the leverage -- and he's not afraid to use it." Noted: Restraint does beat blatant lying, but Kroenke could also find a middle ground. He could at least project the general idea that he's very interested in keeping the team in St. Louis.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates the Rams' search for a general manager.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers thoughts on how the 49ers' defensive backs played in 2011. Maiocco: "The defensive backfield was expected to be a weak link of the 49ers. But this unit was sound throughout the season. The 49ers' defense surrendered 20 touchdown passes during the regular season while recording 23 interceptions. All but one of the 49ers' interceptions came from the secondary. The 49ers' pass defense was fifth-best in the NFL with an opponent passer rating of 73.6."
Also from Maiocco: thoughts on the 49ers in free agency. Maiocco: "The 49ers offered contract extensions to several of their players during the season. Tackle Alex Boone was the only player who accepted the deal. Talks continue with many of the team's other scheduled free agents. Typically, chief negotiator Paraag Marathe makes the trip to Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine and meets with many of the agents who represent 49ers players." Noted: The 49ers showed last offseason they weren't going to panic and overpay in free agency. Their 13-3 record validated the approach.