- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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What kind of scheme will fit Peyton Manning best?
One that’s a lot like what he ran while he was with Indianapolis.
We can do a lot of speculating about what’s most important to Manning going forward. My belief is a guy who is a creature of habit and loves routine and repetition will be most inclined to go somewhere where he gains a good measure of control. Where the coach and offensive coordinator will be willing to bend things to him. Where he can continue to do the things he's been honing for years.
That’s why I don’t see Washington as a good fit at all.
Mike Shanahan is a control freak and his son and offensive coordinator, Kyle, is a chip off the old block. Toss Manning into that mix and there isn’t enough control to go around.
Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona has shown a willingness to fit a scheme to a signal-caller. Joe Philbin in Miami is just starting out and would surely be willing to tilt things. Pete Carroll in Seattle seems to be a flexible guy when dealing with big personalities and stars. Romeo Crennel in Kansas City is a defensive guy.
John Fox is intense, but he and John Elway wouldn’t jump in unless they would mold things for Manning. And we certainly know they are willing to move away from the offense Tim Tebow was running.
“In the end, the chances are that whichever team Manning lands with will incorporate its present offensive system intertwined with what Manning did with the Colts,” writes Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. “Manning's offense in Indy included a zone run-blocking scheme that featured athletic, movement-based linemen, limited personnel groupings and formations, a ton of pre-snap reads, and a timing-based passing attack that thrived after hours and hours of practice time.”
I can’t give away the store of the Insider piece, so I won’t share the order Williamson lists the matches in. We’ll go alphabetical as we share some snippets. As a bonus, my blog network brethren have chimed in with a flexibility rating for the coach/staff/scheme. A "10" means the team would hand over the keys to Manning and a "1" means he’d be expected to run precisely what the coaching staff wanted.
Williamson: “This is the offense I would expect to change the most for Manning. Ken Whisenhunt is a very good offensive mind, but his philosophies have changed dramatically in his tenure as head coach, depending on the quarterback he's had at his disposal.”
Flexibility index from Mike Sando: 7
Not on Williamson’s list.
Flexibility index from Bill Williamson: 10
Williamson: “Adding Manning should make the team the clear favorite to win the AFC West, if not more. But, without a quarterback of the future on the roster, if Kansas City swings and misses on this acquisition, it could cost it dearly. Cassel is mediocre, and probably always will be, which could make the Chiefs too complacent in terms of finding a replacement or successor. It's time for them to be aggressive.”
Flexibility index from Bill Williamson: 10
Williamson: "With Joe Philbin taking over in Miami, the team will be installing an offense very similar to the one in Green Bay, which would fit Manning with all the pre-snap reads it requires. Also, limiting some of the injury risk of signing Manning and putting all the eggs in that basket is that Miami has Matt Moore returning. Although Moore is far from elite, you could do much worse as backups go."
Flexibility index from James Walker: 7
Williamson: "I don't think Manning would put New York over the top because it has problems at right tackle, No. 2 wide receiver and possibly at running back on offense. On defense, the Jets have a hole at safety, at outside pass-rusher and with an inside linebacker who excels in coverage."
Flexibility index from Walker: 10
Williamson: “Manning wouldn't have to put the entire team on his shoulders in San Francisco. The wide receiver position certainly needs upgrading, but Manning could have a reduced role from his time in Indianapolis -- which might be best for him now -- and consistently get his team into strong play choices at the line of scrimmage.”
Flexibility index from Sando: 3.5
Williamson: "With a power ground game, an improving offensive line and some young receiving weapons to work with, Manning might be able to accomplish quite a bit with this offense. If Seattle signs Manning, it definitely could make a run."
Flexibility index from Sando: 8
Williamson: I also have some concerns about how well Mike Shanahan would be able to -- and how willing he would be to -- alter his offense, which stresses a move-oriented quarterback, to fit Manning's cerebral skill set.
Flexibility index from Dan Graziano: 3