Remember the date, March 7, 2012, the day quarterback Peyton Manning is un-officially released from the Indianapolis Colts organization. The move is the latest in the re-structuring of a franchise that was recently amongst the best of the NFL’s teams. Prior moves were set off beginning with Manning’s neck injury that would sideline him for the entire 2011 season ending a streak of 208 regular season games, and 19 playoff games, trailing only Brett Favre who had a mark of 321 consecutive games. The absence of Manning was detrimental to a Colts team that panicked without it’s leader. The team squandered to a 2-14 record, which was largely due to the Colts failure to replace Manning. The club passed for 187.2 yards per game (27th in the league) behind replacements Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky.
The initial scapegoats were Chris and Bill Polian, the former general manager and team president of the Colts, who were fired on January 2nd. Together the Polians had a sense for drafting players with talent and turning them into stars. Bill was responsible for drafting Pierre Garcon (6th round) and Austin Collie (4th round) most recently. Still, he would be replaced by Ryan Grigson, a former Director of Player Personnel with the Philadelphia Eagles. The next casualty (the first move by new GM Grigson) was Jim Caldwell, the team’s head coach, who’s career began sky-high with a berth in Super Bowl XLIV (a 31-17 defeat). That season the Colts went 14-2. However in the two following seasons they would tumble to a 12-20 record. Thus, Caldwell was axed in favor of Chuck Pagano, the former defensive-coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. This hiring was the first sign that Peyton Manning’s release would be inevitable as the club had previously spoken about hiring an offensive-minded coach.
Days and weeks passed by before today’s inevitable news was released to the public. Peyton Manning has been rehabbing and has been said to be throwing “much much” better by Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star via Twitter. If such a report is correct (there is a video where he throws at Duke University) Manning will indeed merit an incentive-laden contract (which he has been said to be open to as reported by FOX 59-Indianapolis) which could only be taken as a positive risk for whichever team decides to go for the living legend.
What does a team get with Peyton Manning? A whole lot more than one might think. For starters, perhaps it was Manning that coached the Colts to a 14-2 record and a Super Bowl berth and not Caldwell, who took over for Tony Dungy, a well-renowned coach now analyzing for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”. When a fan watches the Colts play, they cannot help but notice the no-huddle offense that Manning has perfected. A mind like that does wonders for a club. How about the luxury of telling your wide receivers (no matter who they are) to run their routes and be ready to catch the ball. Manning did all that to perfection. In fact it has helped him achieve records such as these:
- Most seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards (11)
- Most consecutive seasons with at least 25 touchdown passes (13)
- Most games with a perfect passer rating (4)
- Most games with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions (4)
- Most games with at least 300 passing yards (63)
- Largest career TD/INT differential (201)
- Most fourth quarter comebacks in a season (7)
- Most touchdown passes in the 2000s (314)
- Most passing yards in the 2000s (42,254)
- Most completions in the 2000s (3,575)
- Most AP NFL MVP awards (4)