NFL Nation: Archie Manning

Eli Manning getting more comfortable

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- His older son was playing in the game of the day, a Super Bowl rematch out in Seattle. But for some reason Archie Manning came to New Jersey on Sunday to watch Eli Manning and the New York Giants beat the Houston Texans. It was a better day for Eli than it was for Peyton. Archie's younger son was a cool 21-for-28 for 234 yards, two touchdowns and (gasp!) no interceptions as he helped deliver the Giants' first victory of the season.

"Eli likes this offense," Archie Manning told our man Ian O'Connor on his way out of MetLife Stadium. "This is going to be good for him."

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
Alex Goodlett/Getty ImagesEli Manning, a career 58.6 percent passer whose best was 62.9 percent in 2010, completed 75 percent Sunday and is up to 65 percent for the season.
This offense is one in which the free-agent running back, Rashad Jennings, ran for 176 yards on 34 carries Sunday. It's one in which Manning is holding the ball an average of .41 seconds less per dropback than he did in 2013, averaging less time per dropback before the throw than all but two quarterbacks in the league (Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger), according to Pro Football Focus. When it's on and clicking, it's a zippy, rhythm-driven, no-huddle assembly line of an offense designed to make its quarterback feel comfortable with the ball in his hands. And the past two weeks, Eli Manning has looked quite comfortable in his new offense.

"That is the way it's supposed to work," Manning said after Sunday's game. "We got the ball out quick. The receivers made catches. They had good runs after the catch. It was efficient. We mixed it up. I thought last week we made some steps to get better, and this week was even stronger."

Remember in training camp when Giants quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf said the goal was for Manning to complete 70 percent of his passes and we all had a great big chuckle about it? Well, after completing 66.7 percent of his passes in a Week 2 loss to Arizona, Manning completed 75 percent Sunday and is up to 65 percent for this young season. He's a career 58.6 percent passer whose career best was 62.9 percent in 2010, so this is significant progress. And though it's a small sample size and there are undoubtedly hiccups to come, the shorter, quicker-hitting passing game is obviously designed to help Manning's completion percentage improve.

The keys to making it work include Manning's post-snap footwork, which is timed to his receivers' routes depending on the play call (he has re-committed to this after struggling with it in the preseason), and his pre-snap reads, which have been sharp the past two weeks.

"He's seeing things really well before the snap," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "We know exactly what's going on, exactly what to do out there. It's just a matter of us going out there and executing."

It helped that the Giants got the lead against Houston. It unquestionably helped that Houston's best offensive player, Arian Foster, was injured and didn't play in the game. There are games to come against tougher teams and tougher defenses that will be much tougher to beat, and the fact that the offense has clicked the past two weeks doesn't mean anything is fixed or the Giants are going to the Super Bowl. But it's worth noting, as we evaluate this season of change and transition for the Giants, that Manning might be adapting to the new offense better than it looked as though he might.

"He plays a very, very solid mental game, a very outstanding mental game," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "And he did that today."

Victory a family affair for Mannings

January, 19, 2014
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DENVER -- If Cooper Manning is to be believed, and who’s to say the eldest Manning brother isn’t simply reciting history, when Peyton Manning was 10 years old he was a 400-yard passer in total control, playing his best at the biggest moments.

That’s what Cooper told his brother to be Sunday and Peyton will now play in the Super Bowl because of it.

“I just shoot him a little pregame thought and that was it,’’ Cooper said in the middle of a locker room celebration after the Broncos’ 26-16 victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. “It was, ‘Hey, you’ve come this far, go ahead and pretend you’re a 10-year-old playing in the front yard.’ That’s what it looked like.’’

In the end Peyton finished 32-of-43 passing for 400 yards and two touchdowns. He completed passes to eight different receivers, and completed at least three passes to five different receivers.

On a post-card worthy, sun-splashed day with little wind, Peyton showed arm strength to all parts of the field in one of his best all-around outings since his return from a missed season in 2011.

Peyton’s father Archie was emotional in the Broncos locker room following the game, talking about how he had caught passes from his son at one point -- “I wasn’t moving too good’’ -- and how the first family of quarterbacks dealt with the uncertainty that initially came with Peyton’s recovery, especially since Cooper's own football career at Ole Miss ended because of a neck condition.

“I just didn’t know, I just didn’t know,’’ Archie said. “ … He really had a good frame of mind about working, trying it, but if it didn’t work he was at peace. That was comforting, especially to me and Olivia. But he worked, he did work.’’

But there were plenty of smiles to be found in the postgame conversations, spiced with plenty of hugs.

“I’m just like all the other parents of the Broncos whose child is going to the Super Bowl,’’ Archie said. “I don’t know besides Peyton and Wes (Welker) who’s been … but it’s special now, it’s special … I’ve always admired the way Broncos fans love their team.’’

DENVER -- When Hall of Famer John Elway sat across a nicely appointed desk from Peyton Manning, whose gold jacket is a future given, a promise was made.

A promise that went beyond the recruitment of the most decorated free agent to ever hit the open market in the NFL's history, a promise of what could be if both took a leap of football hope and faith.

Elway made a promise to Manning 22 months ago that he would "do everything in my power to make sure [Manning] finishes his career the way I finished mine."

Make no mistake, children across the Front Range leave their footy pajamas behind carrying the knowledge Elway won back-to-back Super Bowls in his final two seasons with the Denver Broncos. And in his third season as the Broncos' chief football decision-maker, hired by Pat Bowlen to restore glory and secure trophies, Elway has now seen Manning lead the Broncos into the Super Bowl.

Manning was at his take-that best Sunday as he swatted away the pregame chatter about his record against Bill Belichick, about his oh-so-many on-field battles with Tom Brady, with a performance that was as efficient as it was relentless in a 26-16 victory in the AFC Championship Game. Manning finished 32-of-43 for 400 yards and two touchdowns.

He wasn't sacked, was rarely even disturbed as he went about his work and did not throw an interception. The Broncos and Manning dropped a total of 507 yards worth of misery on Belichick's defensive game plan and flaunted the variety that has vexed defenses all season long.

Five different players caught at least three passes as eight players had receptions overall. Or as Belichick put it, in his own bottom-line way: "They've got a lot of good players."

That they do. And in the end, it was Belichick who provided the nudge that pushed the Broncos to where they were Sunday.

It was Jan. 14, 2012, when Belichick dismantled the Broncos' postseason run powered by Tim Tebow and a read-option offense. In a 45-10 hide-your-eyes Patriots win, Tebow was 9-of-26 for 136 yards and was sacked five times.

It dropped the curtain on what had been a dynamic stretch for the Broncos, who had unveiled the read-option after making Tebow the starter, a run that included an overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round. And the loss left the Broncos at a crossroads.

Broncos coach John Fox said this past week that "I remember we lost in the playoffs in New England that year, and it was a pretty good indicator of how far we had to get moving."

Then, after Manning was cut loose by the Indianapolis Colts a few weeks later, Elway and the Broncos closed the deal on the surgically repaired quarterback. Manning has gotten better and better since.

He threw a franchise-record 37 touchdowns in 2012, threw a league single-season record 55 touchdowns in 2013.

"There was a lot of uncertainty, whether he was going to play anymore," said Archie Manning, Peyton's father. "That kind of makes it special ... His age, what he went through, playing the quarterback position in this league, we tried to stay positive with him. He handled it so well."

"He's a great man off the field, a great leader and a great person to follow because he does everything right," said Broncos rookie running back Montee Ball.

But simply landing Manning wasn't all Elway did. He hit on some draft picks, players like Ball, Orlando Franklin and tight end Julius Thomas. He got a coach in Fox who assembled a staff with both veteran hands like defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and mark-it-down, up-and-comers like offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Elway also got more from inherited players such as Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno.

He had to deal with last January's crushing playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens; and Von Miller's six-game suspension to open the season; Fox's open-heart surgery; a long list of injuries that included Pro Bowl tackle Ryan Clady, Miller and Chris Harris Jr.; and making the right call on short-term signings like defensive end Shaun Phillips and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He had to maintain his composure and hold the door against complacency.

"It meant we had to deal with everything we had to deal with, to keep the focus on what needed to be done," Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. " ... A lot of people talk about being good, but you have to do the things that need doing to be good. All the time, every day. All you want is a shot at the big game, and we have that. Now you get to work on that one game."

People are always telling Elway, because his quarterback is 37 years old and in his 16th season after four neck surgeries, that the Broncos need to win now. Elway's retort is not a surprise to anyone who knows him, to any of those who were in the huddle with him while the game was on the line.

Elway always says "it's about win [from] now on."

It was all there Sunday, awash in orange, played out with the emotion of a team making its first Super Bowl appearance since Elway was its quarterback. It will be a Super Bowl where the Broncos will be asked questions about whether their high-powered offense can handle a snowy day, can handle a muscle-bound defense from the NFC or if the Broncos' defense can be good enough, for one more game, to get it all done.

And it will be a Super Bowl game where a promise is kept.

Saints unveil Ring of Honor tonight

November, 10, 2013
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NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints will officially unveil their Ring of Honor during halftime of tonight's game against the Dallas Cowboys. As previously announced, their inaugural class will be made up of quarterback Archie Manning, linebacker Rickey Jackson and offensive tackle Willie Roaf.

“Our three honorees are outstanding people,” Saints owner Tom Benson said in a pregame press conference. “I can't say enough about having had the pleasure of being here with Rickey and Willie, and I followed Archie throughout his great times here. New Orleans is very fortunate to have these people. ...

“We're going to put them on the Ring of Honor tonight in memory forever.”

The class was chosen by a panel made up of team ownership, front office administrators, selected former Saints players and selected members of the media.

The first trio wasn't too difficult to choose. Jackson and Roaf are the only two Pro Football Hall of Famers who spent a large portion of their careers with the Saints. And Manning was a tremendously popular quarterback from 1971-‘75 and ‘77-'82, who earned two trips to the Pro Bowl and was recognized as the NFC's Offensive Player of the Year by multiple outlets in 1978.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis had a great line while introducing Manning -- joking about a term that has become very popular in today's NFL lexicon.

“He was an elite quarterback before we ever used the term elite,” Loomis said. “If he played today, he would be an elite quarterback.”

Some highlights from each of the honorees:

Manning: “All my nights in the Superdome weren't always memorable and my afternoons weren't always great. But I'll always remember this night, I promise you that. It's really special. It's special to me, it's special to my family.”

Jackson: “I put the Saints right up there with the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is something that you're proud to have. But the Saints, me being here in New Orleans, I just thank Mr. Benson for the things he did for the city -- keeping the Saints here, that was a big task right there. So I take my hat off to Mr. Benson.”

Roaf: “I'm just so grateful I got a chance to play close to home and my family and friends. A lot of them are here right now and it's going to be great tonight -- especially after we get through beating the Cowboys."
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints announced that quarterback Archie Manning, linebacker Rickey Jackson and offensive tackle Willie Roaf will be the first three members inducted into their Ring of Honor. The Saints will recognize the inaugural class of 2013 during halftime of their Week 10 Sunday night game against the Dallas Cowboys in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The class was chosen by a panel made up of team ownership, front office administrators, selected former Saints players and selected members of the media.

The first trio wasn’t too difficult to choose. Jackson and Roaf are the only two Pro Football Hall of Famers who spent a large portion of their careers with the Saints. And Manning was a tremendously popular quarterback from 1971-‘75 and ‘77-’82, who earned two trips to the Pro Bowl and was recognized as the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Year by multiple outlets in 1978.

“We are excited to induct the deserving members of the Class of 2013 and allow our fans an opportunity to honor the efforts and contributions that these men have made to our franchise,” Saints owner Tom Benson said in a statement. “It is fitting to honor three of the greatest players in our franchise’s rich history in Archie, Rickey and Willie.”

Archie Manning praises Peyton, Romo

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
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DALLAS -- In town for an event honoring Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, former NFL quarterback Archie Manning praised not only his son Peyton for his fast start to the season but Tony Romo as well.

Romo meets Manning and the Denver Broncos Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

"We're proud of him," Archie Manning said. "They've gotten off to a good start, like all quarterbacks he’s worked hard; everybody wants to get off to a good start. The good news is he’s played long enough to know this can't last forever and it gets tougher and tougher and he knows all of those things. Hopefully they can stay healthy. I don’t want to see anybody get hurt, and I hope they can play at a high level."

Manning is off to one of the best starts in league history for a quarterback. He's got 16 touchdowns and no interceptions, leads the NFL in at least seven passing categories and has more touchdowns than every other team in the league.

Roger Staubach, a Hall of Fame quarterback with the Cowboys, is also impressed.

"He's amazing, got some real good receivers in Denver and he's an extremely smart quarterback," Staubach said. "He studies like crazy and he knows what's going on over there and he's making it look easy. You never know. You get a different matchup and people start watching film and seeing some of that and you see he has tendencies, but he is the best right now in the league. He and [Tom] Brady and [Aaron] Rodgers, and I have Tony in my top 5."

Archie Manning and Staubach didn't ignore the works of Romo, who is third in completion percentage and fourth in passer rating.

"He's played good for years," Archie Manning said of Romo. "I think we’re all guilty of making quarterbacks like tennis players and golfers. Quarterbacks play as good as their team plays, and Tony, if protected and his receivers do the job and gets a little running game, he plays a great quarterback as good as anybody."

One more time, 'family is family'

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
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Eli and Peyton ManningBrian Spurlock/US PresswireBrothers Eli (left) and Peyton Manning last met on the field during the 2010 season.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There is plenty in life's tapestry that Champ Bailey and Peyton Manning have in common.

Both were raised in the South, consistently credit their parents for showing them the importance of doing things the right way, played in the football-mad Southeastern Conference, and belong to the ultra-exclusive list of players who have been named to 12 Pro Bowls. Oh, and each understands what it is to look across a football field, with thousands in the seats around him and the last notes of the national anthem echoing in his ears, and see his brother on the other sideline.

“I've always said there’s a lot of pride in that," Champ Bailey said of facing teams his brother, Boss, played on. “Family is family. Our thing was you don’t drift apart; you play hard that day, in that game, because you want to win. You always want to win, to be the best, but it’s hard to explain to people because it’s never, 'I've got to beat you' -- because when the game was over, we were still brothers."

Boss and Champ Bailey were even teammates with the Denver Broncos for the 2008 season -- a year in which Boss Bailey played only six games because of injuries in what turned out to be the last season of Mike Shanahan's Denver tenure. The Bailey brothers felt the interest and dealt with the questions, but they weren't quarterbacks.

They weren't Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. And they weren't Super-Bowl winning, "Saturday Night Live"-hosting quarterbacks who also happen to be two of corporate America's favorite pitchmen. So when football nation wants to see all there is to see, hear all there is to hear about a game that includes Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, it’s a little different deal.

So much so that when Peyton was asked this week about what his parents -- Archie and Olivia -- think about all that will come with watching two of their sons in Sunday’s nationally televised affair between the Denver Broncos and New York Giants, the Broncos' QB said:

“I don’t think they enjoy it all that much."

Since the Giants made the draft-day trade with the San Diego Chargers in 2004 to acquire Eli, this will be the third, and perhaps because of NFL schedule rotations, last meeting between the brothers. Peyton’s Indianapolis Colts won the previous two -- in 2006 and 2010. The 2006 game was the season opener for both teams.

“Well, I think the best part about this one is that it’s not the opener," Eli said. “It’s much better when it’s the second game -- or later -- just because you don’t have to be asked about it for three months. You get a week of questioning that you have to deal with."

Peyton was asked this week if Sunday’s game was one he had been thinking about through the offseason, and he did what he usually does when the well-honed deflector shields are up -- he tried to move on to something else.

“We knew we were going to play them, and based off of last year I knew we’d probably be on TV," Peyton said with a laugh. “So when it was, where it was, Week 2 or whatever -- I’m glad we only have to talk about it for one week. … But I did the New York conference call and there was not one question about the Giants’ defense. I had to force it in there myself."

Yes, he did, in the traditional conference call with the opponent’s media. After several questions about facing Eli, Peyton simply said:

“I haven’t been asked one question about the Giants' defense. That’s where the focus is for me as a quarterback and for our offense. It’s a good defense. They were put in some tough spots due to some turnovers against Dallas, but they were outstanding last year in creating turnovers, outstanding in the red zone, and so those are things that they’re very capable of and that’s where our focus is, is getting ready to play a tough defense on the road. At the same time, you do know because of their explosive offense, they’re capable of scoring some points, so you better be on top of your game from an offensive standpoint."

It could all be a product of a wired world and 24/7 news cycles, with so many in the populace armed with cellphone cameras, but the Mannings publicly wrestle with this game. They are brothers, they are close, and they spend a great deal of time together. They talk plenty, though not about football this week, and they have even stood pop culture on its ear together with a little football on your phone. In short, they live with the idea, as Champ Bailey put it, that “family is family."

And even as they have tried to keep the rarity of it all at arm’s length, to live in the week-to-week moments of the NFL, they both say they have taken time to appreciate the rarity of what has happened in the past -- it is unprecedented for quarterbacks of their stature in the game -- and will take a moment Sunday night to appreciate it once again.

“The past two times we have, for whatever reason, lined up across from each other during the national anthem," Peyton said. “So you do take a moment to realize that it is your brother over there that is a quarterback for the New York Giants in the NFL, and it is the same person that you grew up with. So it is unique, and I think you do take a moment to realize that it is special. But once the game gets started, all week the focus is on their defense, and you can go out there and just play."

“When I look back at the times we played against each other, I think you remember the national anthems and looking over and nodding at your big brother, talking to him before the game a little bit, the handshake after the game," Eli said. “Those things are special moments. … I’m proud of Peyton and his football career, also just proud of the way he’s handled himself off the field and all the great things he’s done. He’s my big brother and one of my best friends."
This is very far-fetched and probably incomprehensible.

But, with every day that quarterback Drew Brees remains unsigned, there’s a growing panic in New Orleans and that’s when we start to think about far-fetched and incomprehensible things.

Let’s get hypothetical here. Let’s say that the New Orleans Saints somehow can’t get a long-term deal with Brees done. Then, they almost certainly would decide to use the franchise tag on him. But what if they think totally outside the box?

What if they somehow used the franchise tag on guard Carl Nicks or wide receiver Marques Colston? What if they somehow decided to let Brees walk?

Again, it’s highly unlikely. But just about every option is on the table at this point.

What would the Saints do if they did decide to explore life without Brees? They’d have to do something dramatic and I only see one thing out there that might be able to console the fan base a little bit.

What if the Saints brought in Peyton Manning? It appears he’s on his way out of Indianapolis. Assuming his neck is healthy, he’s one of the best quarterbacks ever. There’s also this — Manning’s a New Orleans native and his father, Archie, was a former quarterback for the Saints. Brees is the unquestioned King of New Orleans.

But if the King were to leave the throne, the next best thing might be turning to New Orleans royalty.

Take a look at the SportsNation poll to the right and cast your vote on if you’d be satisfied if Manning were to end up replacing Brees. And feel free to back up your vote by sharing your logic in the comments section below.
Andrew LuckESPN.com IllustrationThe Colts need to rebuild their franchise around Andrew Luck and say goodbye to Peyton Manning.
The disarray that comes with the sort of season the Indianapolis Colts are having is usually destructive.

But the timing of the 0-12 Colts, who could easily go winless, is excellent.

They have a two-game advantage with four games to play in what might be the second-best prize to the Lombardi Trophy this season: the No. 1 pick in the April draft and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

In this Ultimate Scouting report, ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay compared pre-draft evaluations of Peyton Manning, John Elway and Matt Ryan with current evaluations of Luck.

We know it’s an imperfect science. But the 2011 Luck outscored 1998 Manning in five categories: arm strength, measurables, mobility, production and toughness. They tied in the other five: short accuracy, deep accuracy, release, pocket presence and intelligence.

From the start, I’ve said the Colts have to take Luck if they can. He’s a guy forecasted to have a career that could be comparable to Manning’s, and he’s 13 years younger and 14 NFL seasons healthier.

Luck’s career stacked on top of Manning’s could conceivably give the franchise 28 years or more of no real concerns at quarterback. I can only imagine what that sounds like to fans in Cleveland, Washington or Miami, where a fruitless search for just one quarterback who can play well for a couple of consecutive years goes on and on and on.

Still, I waver on what the Colts should do when the time to make a Manning decision arrives. It's a frustrating topic for someone with typically strong opinions. I've read and agreed with great stances on both sides.

Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star: “It makes no sense, none, to mortgage the team's long-term future and retard Andrew Luck's progress while gambling on Manning's health and longevity.”

Exactly.

Peter Keating, ESPN Insider: “The true once-in-a-generation opportunity they're facing is the chance to rebuild a great team overnight, not to draft Luck.”

Precisely.

Bill Polian is now the Colts’ vice chairman, and his son, Chris, is the team’s general manager. I’m presuming they survive this embarrassing year and are in line to make the decisions going forward.

As Bill recedes and Chris takes on more responsibility, Bill has talked of a renewed focus on his draft. His career has been built largely around teams with Hall of Fame quarterbacks: Jim Kelly in Buffalo and Manning in Indianapolis.

So my strong feeling is he’ll grab Luck. And, spoken or unspoken, I think he’d pass this message to Chris:
I built a legacy with a couple of fantastic quarterbacks, the hardest thing to find in professional football, perhaps in professional sports. Here’s yours. On this rock, you’ll build your team. (Don’t blow it.) Love, Dad.
[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesTrying to keep a core of veterans around Peyton Manning would be detrimental to Andrew Luck's long-term growth.


So then, the question is not about Luck. It’s about Manning.

He’s coming off major neck surgery. He will have to show he’s recovered by early March for the Colts to consider paying him the $28 million bonus he’s due. He could push back the deadline.

All season, I’ve been inclined to think it’d be fine, even healthy, for the Colts to have a recovered Manning and a rookie Luck on the 2012 roster. Let Luck be an understudy under a great for a year, then sort things out.

But my thinking has changed. Having both is probably the worst of all the options, as Kravitz of the Star and Nate Dunlevy of 18to88.com have both written.

My feeling right now -- and I reserve the right to change it over the next three or four months -- aligns with that of Kravitz. He thinks the Colts have to look to the future and wonders why Manning would even want to come back, given the circumstances.

While the two quarterbacks could coexist for a season, even as Archie Manning says Luck is too good to sit, the financial implications of trading or cutting Manning in 2013 would be drastic and handcuff the team in a way it can’t willingly agree to.

The Colts have to decide whether they want to reload and try to win with Manning now, or start a rebuild that would surround Luck with lasting talent. They can’t go forward with both strategies without compromising one or the other.

Drafting Luck means your single best chance to help Manning win will be spent on a player who won’t help Manning win.

Keeping Manning means making patchwork moves intended to maintain the best, aging pieces of the current core -- a group that will be petering out or gone by 2014 or 2015, when Luck will likely be blossoming.

So …

The Colts can commission a statue of Manning outside Lucas Oil Stadium, a football palace unlikely to have been built without him.

They’ll surely struggle with the sentimentality involved in parting ways with such an iconic figure and they will face some gigantic fan backlash. But they’ll be best off if they massage the situation and tell him they’d like to help him land in a situation of his choosing to play out his career. Maybe he beats them to it and tells Bill Polian the day after the season ends that’s his wish.

Manning could return to Indianapolis wearing the helmet of the Broncos or Dolphins or Jets and it would sting, for sure. But it would hurt too, and last longer, if Luck went to the playoffs on a regular basis as a member of Browns or some other team he could lift to long-term prominence.

It’s an incredibly complicated, uncomfortable and delicate situation.

Polian and Manning are the two men most responsible for the Colts’ run of success: nine consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins and a playoff berth, three AFC championship games, two AFC titles and the Super Bowl XLIV crown.

The end of such a successful relationship is not often tidy.

It’s rarely Elway walking away after raising a second consecutive Lombardi trophy.

It’s rarely someone like Luck arriving, ready to grab the torch, either.

Archie Manning's stance makes sense

December, 7, 2011
12/07/11
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Archie Manning’s two recent radio appearances certainly qualify as the beginning of posturing to help position Peyton Manning in the best way possible.

What Dad Manning said makes perfect sense -- Andrew Luck isn’t the kind of quarterback who will need time to sit and marinate on an NFL bench. So the idea of Luck and Peyton Manning on the same team doesn’t make for a good quarterbacking environment or roster composition.

“Andrew Luck doesn’t look like the kind of quarterback who’s going to sit,” Archie Manning said on today’s Dan Patrick Show.

He’s right. And he spoke with a purpose.

The Mannings never say anything casually. Anything that could have a bearing on the public stance on something concerning one of them is calculated. Not in a nefarious way, just in a smart way.

Between these comments and Peyton Manning’s pushback on Bill Polian’s statement that he talked with the quarterback last summer during contract negotiations about drafting an eventual heir, things are getting more complicated.

My opinions on what the Colts will do and should do are evolving, and I’m sorting through them for another post soon.

So how indispensable is Manning?

September, 8, 2011
9/08/11
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Even the most optimistic timetable puts Peyton Manning's recovery from cervical fusion neck surgery at two months. And I’m thinking a two-month recovery doesn’t mean fit to get hit by Mario Williams in two months.

ESPN's resident physical therapist, Stephania Bell, says she thinks it'll be a minimum of three months before he can play.

For years Manning’s been classified as the most indispensable player in the NFL and perhaps all of team sports. I think it’s likely true, but we’re about to find out just how much of a difference there is between a guy who may be the greatest of all time and an old quarterback who’s been good in spurts but who’s been best at lasting a long time

No offense intended at all to Kerry Collins.

It’s news that certainly prompts me to change my preseason pick of the Colts to win the division.

Houston’s the favorite now. And if the Texans can’t take the division and get into the playoffs, surely it will mark the end of coach Gary Kubiak’s tenure. It also means better chances for Jacksonville and Tennessee.

Archie Manning said this to Chris Mortensen about Peyton Manning’s state of mind after Thursday’s surgery:
"I think he's OK, probably because there's a little finality to this deal in terms of playing," the elder Manning told Mortensen. "He's been on the clock since May. He didn't make it. Obviously, it's a big letdown, but he can relax a little bit compared to the intensity of everything he has done trying to rehab."

One other thought as I begin to reflect on the news that Manning could now land on IR. (They've let people linger hurt without making the IR move for months at times, I could see them waiting on Manning for a while.)

Because this has happened doesn’t mean the Colts’ approach to the backup quarterback spot has been wrong. I’ve said their Plan B in these circumstances was insufficient, and, at the very least, they should have brought in Collins at the start of camp. But for 13 years before that, I have no issue.

Philosophically, they’ve invested little in the spot since drafting Manning first overall in 1998, and it’ll cost them zero with regard to wins and losses. If they go 0-16 this year, which they won’t, you can say in 14 years they didn’t pay the No. 2 quarterback much attention and they lost one season as a result. I’d sign up for that. I can’t think of a team that wouldn’t.
Alex Smith's candidacy as the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback heading into 2011 sent me searching for some context.

The charts show some initial findings.

Smith
The first one shows quarterbacks since 1970 who met the following criteria, as provided by Pro Football Reference:
  • First-round draft choice;
  • Has thrown between 40 and 60 touchdown passes;
  • Career passer rating was no higher than 85.0;
  • Has played in no more than six seasons.

Smith's new coach, Jim Harbaugh, is one of the players on the list. Some of the players enjoyed moderately successful careers. Vince Young, Greg Landry, Harbaugh, Dan Pastorini and Archie Manning were named to at least one Pro Bowl.


The second chart eliminates Smith's statistically horrible rookie season, when he had one touchdown and 11 interceptions for a very bad team.

It shows statistics for quarterbacks drafted in first rounds since 1970 based on the following criteria, also according to Pro Football Reference:
  • Second through sixth seasons only;
  • Had thrown between 40 and 55 touchdown passes;
  • Had thrown no more than 45 interceptions;
  • Had started at least 40 games during this period.

Harbaugh again makes the list, but I was most struck by similarities between the numbers for Smith and Harbaugh's old teammate, Jim McMahon.

Smith and McMahon could not be less similar in terms of personality, overall approach, supporting cast and on-field results. McMahon went 22-1 as a starter from 1985-87.

The Harbaugh comparison is much more relevant. Both players failed to meet expectations early in their careers despite their diligence. Harbaugh's personality was much more aggressive, however, and that raises a very fair but harsh question: Does Smith have the right makeup to salvage his career in a manner the way Harbaugh did after leaving Chicago?

What key event significantly changed the fortunes of the Saints -- for better or worse? Give us your take and we’ll give you our definitive moment on May 25.

These events could be positives or negatives. In the case of the Saints, I elected to just stick with the positives because there have been a lot recently. This long-suffering franchise has done all sorts of good things since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

There have been two trips to the NFC Championship Game, a Super Bowl title and a future that still looks very bright, and most of your choices are from the modern era. You can trace all that's right with the Saints these days back to 2006, when coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees, who supposedly had a shoulder injury so bad he might not play again, arrived. For those with longer memories, I even included the arrival of Jim Mora as coach in 1986. That move triggered the first real surge of competitiveness as the "Dome Patrol'' and Bobby Hebert showed it was possible to win in New Orleans.

Prior to that, the highlights I left out were Tom Dempsey’s 63-yard field goal and the days of Archie Manning running for his life, but also throwing some nice passes. Beyond that, there wasn’t much else.

If you vote Other, give us your suggestion in the comments area below.
Breakdown: The Saints not only get the national stage in the season opener at Green Bay, but they get it three more times. Prime time games with the Colts, Giants and Falcons also highlight the schedule of a team that went 11-6 last season and won the Super Bowl the season before that.

You know the storyline on the opener – the past two Super Bowl champions facing off. But the plots for the other prime-time games are just as good. The Oct. 23 game against Indianapolis will bring Peyton Manning back to his hometown and put his father, Archie, in a very tough spot.

The Nov. 28 “Monday Night Football’’ game in the Super Dome also will bring home Peyton Manning’s brother, Eli. That game also has the subplot of Sean Payton facing the New York Giants, the team with which his coaching reputation really took off. Of course, New Orleans’ other home Monday night game might be the biggest of all. That’s Dec. 26 against the Atlanta Falcons. These teams don’t like each other and anytime they play late in the season, it’s likely to have huge implications on the NFC South standings.

Complaint department: Success comes with a price and we’ve known for months the Saints would have to face two very good NFC North teams, Green Bay and Chicago. But, despite the great spotlight that comes with the opener, the league didn’t do the Saints any favors by making their first two games against the Packers and Bears. The Saints also got hit with one of the NFL’s rare three-game road trips. They’ve got to travel to Jacksonville, Carolina and Tampa Bay in consecutive weeks in October.

Monday night madness: The two Monday night games might be a good sign. Since Payton’s arrival in 2006, the Saints are 7-2 on Monday nights and they’ve also won their past five Monday night contests.

Saints Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Thursday, Sep. 8, at Green Bay, 8:30 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 18, Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 25, Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, at Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16, at Tampa Bay, 4:15 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23, Indianapolis, 8:20 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30, at St. Louis, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 28, NY Giants, 8:30 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11, at Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, at Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Monday, Dec. 26, Atlanta, 8:30 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, Carolina, 1:00 PM

No Vincent Jackson deal

September, 22, 2010
9/22/10
4:35
PM ET
Jonathan Feinsod, one of Vincent Jackson's agents, said his client would not be traded from San Diego by the Wednesday 4 p.m. ET deadline.

lastname
Jackson
Feinsod said he had deals done for Jackson, but the Chargers would not agree on trade compensation.

“We had multiple offers and the Chargers squashed them all,” Feinsod said.

This is the second time this month San Diego turned down deals for Jackson, according to Feinsod.

It’s been reported that the Vikings offered a second-round pick in 2011 and another conditional pick for Jackson.

Feinsod ripped San Diego general manager A.J. Smith for not making a deal.

“Archie Manning had it right,” Feinsod said in reference to Manning not wanting his son Eli to play for the Chargers after he was drafted by the team in 2004. “They call (Smith) the Lord of No Rings for a reason.”

Yes, folks, it has gotten personal.

The Chargers can now trade Jackson on Oct. 18 or Oct. 19 before the NFL deadline. I don’t think these comments will inspire Smith to make a deal. If Jackson is not traded, he will likely sit out the entire season.

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