Tag:Indianapolis colts
Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:37 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:19 pm
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Luck, Colts could be better than we think in '12

Can the Colts draw inspriation from what other team's have done with young QBs? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Colts and Peyton Manning are done. Which means that the Andrew Luck era began unofficially Wednesday afternoon (assuming, of course, Robert Griffin III doesn't surge to the top of Indy's draft board in the coming weeks). The knee-jerk reaction is to think that a post-Manning Indianapolis will look like something out of "The Book of Eli" -- an apocalyptic NFL wasteland with no hope of salvation anytime soon. Except that there are recent examples from around the league that should give the Colts and their fans hope. (We talked about it in the most recent Pick-6 Podcast, embedded below for your convenience.)


At its most basic, success with a young quarterback comes down to some combination of: a) a good defense, b) a strong special teams, c) a reliable running game, and, oh, it doesn't hurt if said young quarterback is d) mature -- both mentally and physically -- beyond his years.

As it stands, the Colts, should they draft Luck, will have d). It's up to owner Jim Irsay, new GM Ryan Grigson, and new head coach Chuck Pagano to take care of a)-c).  It's a tall order, for sure, but not impossible. Here are five examples that should give the Colts and Luck hope in 2012:

1. Baltimore Ravens

Pagano comes to Indy after serving as the Ravens' defensive coordinator last season. So he knows first-hand just how important a good defense can be for a young quarterback -- particularly one whose offensive coordinator doesn't seem to understand the downfalls of airing it out 50 times a game when the team's best player sits on the bench.

Luckily, Pagano hired Bruce Arians as his coordinator. Arians was Peyton Manning's first quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis, and he spent the last five seasons as Ben Roethlisberger's OC in Pittsburgh. He knows something about bringing along a young, talented quarterback.

Manning era ends in Indy
"[Arians] understands how to develop quarterbacks, especially young quarterbacks," Pagano told CBSSports.com in Indianapolis during Super Bowl week. "Bruce and I go back a long time. His philosophy matches our philosophy, and the pieces we're going to put around him [match] his passion and energy. He's a brilliant guy, he thinks outside the box so I feel really fortunate that Bruce is with us." 

The first order of business, however, is getting the defense in order. The Colts re-signed Robert Mathis, but appear set to cut Dwight Freeney loose for salary-cap reasons. Pagano will install a 3-4 defense which will replace the soft Cover-2 the team had been running for years. Even a mediocre defense to go along with something resembling a running game would go a long way in making Luck's rookie season manageable.

The last time the Colts started a rookie quarterback was in 1998 after they drafted Manning first overall. The year before, Indy ranked 23rd in total efficiency, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. The offense was 24th, the defense 25th and special teams 25th. In 2011, without Manning, the Colts were similarly awful: 31st overall, 27th in offense, 27th in defense, and 31st in special teams.

Of course, Manning was 3-13 as a rookie but his defense didn't do him any favors: they ranked 28th in '98. If Pagano can cobble together a defense and couple that with a decent running game, Luck's transition to NFL quarterback could go much smoother than conventional wisdom currently suggests.

2. Atlanta Falcons

In 2007, Michael Vick was in a heap of trouble and out of football, first-year Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino quit after 13 games to take the Arkansas job, and the starting quarterbacks that season included Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich. It's a miracle they managed four wins.

In 2008, owner Arthur Blank hired Mike Smith and the team drafted Matt Ryan. They won 11 games, and Ryan threw for 3,440 yards (61 percent completion rate), 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

In the Falcons' case, the one-year turnaround wasn't because the defense drastically improved. The unit was 28th in '07 and 25th in '08 -- instead it was the … passing game, which was fourth behind the Chargers, Colts and Saints. Part of that was because then-Falcons OC Mike Mularkey put Ryan in positions to succeed. But it was also a function of Ryan exceeding everyone's expectations.

We talked to him in January 2009, shortly after his rookie season ended, and asked if the Falcons had eased him into the playbook.

"To my knowledge, we had the full offense in," he said. "… From the start, we had a bunch of different things in, and I had a good amount of responsibility at the line of scrimmage to do some different things. I think as the season went on, we found what we were as an offense. Because there were a bunch of new people working together and trying to find the rhythm of our offense."

While a stout defense and a reliable running game are a young QB's friends, ultimately, it comes down to assimilating a ton of information and making plays you're asked to make.

3. San Francisco 49ers

If there's a blueprint from which Pagano should work, it might be the 49ers. By the 2010 offseason, Alex Smith was roundly considered a bust. The 2005 first-overall pick had, at various points in his career, shared snaps with Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill and Troy Smith, and San Francisco had never won more than eight games in Smith's six seasons heading into 2011. Then Jim Harbaugh replaced Mike Singletary as head coach and everything changed.

But it wasn't that Smith suddenly morphed into a franchise quarterback (it was the best season of his career but he was more game manager than late-game winner). The offense improved to 18th in 2011 from 24th the season before, but it was the defense and special teams that were the difference. The latter improved from 13th to third, and the latter went from 22nd to 2nd.

4. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals dumped chatty veterans (Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco) and were forced to find a new quarterback when Carson Palmer chose retirement over returning to Cincy. So the team took the draft's best wide receiver in Round 1 (A.J. Green), and landed their next franchise quarterback a round later (Andy Dalton).

Dalton was considered a heady player in college and that distinction followed him in the weeks and months leading up to the draft. Turns out, it was true. Like Ryan in Atlanta, Dalton not only knew where to go with the ball, he was accurate and timely with his throws. It's one thing to understand what the defense is trying to do; it's something else entirely for a rookie to actually do it with a blitzing linebacker in his face.

5. Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton wasn't the beneficiary of a good (or even slightly below average) defense and the Panthers, 2-14 the year before he arrived, still won six games. (They lost five games by seven points or less.) His success surprised everybody, even folks whose job it was to breakdown film for a living. Here's NFL Films' Greg Cosell in December 2011:

"What was remarkable about Newton was he demonstrated many of these traits of an NFL passer right away.  Beginning in Week 1 against Arizona, he read coverage, he knew where to go with the football, he was decisive and accurate. The next week he played the Super Bowl champion Packers and was truly impressive, showing NFL attributes beginning with poise and composure in the pocket. More importantly, he did not leave the pocket to run when the bodies started closing it down. He stood tall and delivered the ball in the face of pressure. He showed the willingness to make stick throws into tight windows, a necessary trait in critical long yardage situations against sophisticated NFL coverages."

And Newton came from a run-option offense at Auburn. Luck was in a pro-style offense at Stanford, and although he's plenty athletic, he was a pocket passer.

***

None of this means that the Colts are destined for the playoffs next year. But given how other teams have managed their young quarterbacks, it's reasonable to think that Luck could have early success in Indy. After all, if the only difference in Indy between annual double-digit wins and the playoffs, and last season's 2-14 record is Manning, then why can't the Colts win seven, eight or nine games with Luck in 2012?

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 5:03 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 8:19 am
 

Manning flies to South Florida after exit in Indy

Don't worry, potential suitors, he has a condo in Florida. (CBS Miami's Facebook page)

By Ryan Wilson

It's been a busy day for Peyton Manning, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts. He and Colts owner Jim Irsay held a joint press conference at noon Wednesday to announce that, after 14 years, the team and its longtime franchise quarterback were parting ways. It was an emotional scene.

But time, as they say, waits for no man. So while Indianapolis continues to remake a franchise that was wildly successful during the Manning era, the franchise's former quarterback contemplates his future. (Even though he said during the press conference that “I haven’t thought about where I’ll play," we're guessing he has.) Which might explain this bit of news: according to CBS Miami, Manning arrived in South Florida via private jet Wednesday afternoon.

"FYI, Peyton Manning is on the ground, he landed at Opa-Locka Airport and just got off his plane just before 4:30 p.m.," CBS Miami posted on its Facebook page. "Not likely to sign today, he owns a condo down here."

The Cardinals organization is collectively having heart palpitations at the news, even if Manning signing with the Dolphins isn't imminent. If nothing else, it gives Manning negotiating leverage when the Cards, Fins, Redskins, Seahawks and other potential suitors queue up to bid for his services (and we still don't know if and when he'll be back to his pre-multiple-neck-surgeries form).

CBS 4 caught up with Manning in a parking lot where he had stopped to speak to reporters. "It was tough for me," he said of leaving the Colts and becoming a free agent. "It was really hard, but now I realize that process has to start. I haven't thought about teams ... It's all new to me."

Inevitably, Manning was asked about his interest in the Dolphins (he's in South Florida, after all).

"The Miami Dolphins have a great organization there," he said before reiterating that he has no idea which teams are interested in him or how this process works. "I truly missed just playing quarterback this year. ... I realize I'm not gonna play forever, and I think I'm gonna know the time to stop playing."

Yes, Wednesday was the end of an era in Indy, but we shouldn't feel sorry for Peyton just yet.


Peyton Manning's run as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts ended Wednesday, when owner Jim Irsay announced the team would release its best player. Manning said his emotional goodbye to the team, the fans and the city of Indianapolis.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 2:54 pm
 

Report: Skins to make 'aggressive' run at Peyton

Washington will get "aggressive" in chasing Manning. (CBSSports.com Illustration)
By Will Brinson

Peyton Manning will officially be a free agent, likely in a few hours, after his release from the Colts on Wednesday. We polled all the CBSSports.com experts on where Peyton will land but there wasn't much interest in the Redskins.

That won't stop Washington from making a run at Manning, though: Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports that the 'Skins will "aggressively" pursue Manning in free agency.

Maske cites sources that say the team is "comfortable with the risks associated with signing Manning," and the "team will pursue him intently."

This isn't shocking at all, really. Clark Judge recently pointed out that Washington has two choices: land Manning or go after Robert Griffin III in the draft. And we all know that Dan Snyder likes to spend money and that Mike Shanahan is infatuated with Manning. (Who isn't?)

But will Manning actually entertain the idea of playing in Washington? Maske also cites a source who says that "he wasn't certain if Manning would consider an offer by the Redskins seriously" because Washington lacks a good offensive line, doesn't have any receivers, is coming off a five-win season and has to play against Eli Manning and the Giants twice a year.

For those who don't think the Eli factor matters: it does. Manning joining the Redskins would create a direct roadblock to the playoffs for his brother. (Or, perhaps more likely, for Peyton.) I don't think it'll keep Peyton from joining any team in the NFC, as Marshall Faulk posited on the NFL Network Wednesday, but it could quite likely keep him from going to the NFC East.

That's not to say Washington is completely eliminated; they're not. But they face more of an uphill battle than most will think in the fight to land Manning.

Don't worry though Redskins fans. According to Maske, Washington's idea is to follow along with Clark's aforementioned plan of attack and target RG3 if they miss out on Manning. Interestingly, Maske also reports that the Redskins signing Manning "would not preclude the addition of a young quarterback" like Griffin or Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A&M.

As we noted in our NFC East preview, it ultimately comes down to the quarterback position for Washington in 2012. This isn't breaking news. But it's also why it's not surprising to see Washington crank things up in their pursuit of the biggest free agent in NFL history.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:20 pm
 

Peyton Manning 'confident' he'll play in 2012

Manning is "confident" he'll be back in 2012. (AP)
By Will Brinson

Peyton Manning is done as a member of the Colts. That was made officially official on Wednesday. But don't think he's done in the NFL; not even close.

Asked Wednesday after a class-filled speech about his playing status for 2012, Manning said he was "confident" he'd be on the field.

"I am confident," Manning said. "I don't know what these next steps are -- this is all kind of new to me."

It's new to everyone; Manning's been in a Colts uniform ever since he entered the league in 1998. And despite rumors (mainly from Rob Lowe) to the contrary, Manning isn't considering retirement.

"I don't want to retire," Manning said. "And no I don't feel like I have anything to prove. Nobody loves their job more than I do. Nobody loves playing quarterback more than I do. I still want to play. There's no other team I've ever wanted to play for."

But Manning has to find a new team now, and that new team is going to wonder about his health. According to Manning, he's "come a long way" but still has "some progress to make."

"I'm throwing it pretty well. I've still got some work to do. I've got some progress to make," Manning said. "But I've come a long way. I've really worked hard. I can't tell you the hours I've put in to working hard."

Not many people can -- the only shots of Peyton playing are some Zapruder-like film shot at Duke University. But that shouldn't stop teams from seeing just how ready Manning is to play.

I've broken down the spots where I think Manning could end up, and there are plenty of rumors as to just how interested those various teams are. Don't expect those rumors to slow down much, especially if Manning can prove in the coming days and weeks why he's so confident.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 12:44 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 1:44 pm
 

Manning presser filled with memories, emotions

Manning and Irsay officially said goodbye Wednesday. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Say what you will about the dance Colts owner Jim Irsay and his superstar quarterback have performed the past few months as he and Peyton Manning have played politics, trying to gain leverage on each other. Leaked videos of Manning practicing in North Carolina, and leaked reports that Manning might need another spinal fusion surgery.

At times, it’s gotten ugly, but divorces usually are.

In the end, though, Irsay and Manning are like family, and no matter their squabbles, Irsay loves Manning. And Manning loves Irsay and the franchise.

The one moment that crystalized Manning’s affection occurred midway through Wednesday’s press conference when, after already showcasing his emotion a number of times, Manning nearly broke down when he was talking about the Colts equipment men. The equipment men for, god’s sake!

That’s what the franchise has meant to him. When you shed a tear for the men who clothe you, you know how Manning feels about the entire organization.

“I sure have loved playing football for the Indianapolis Colts,” said Manning, who was officially released by Indianapolis on Wednesday. “For 14 wonderful years, the only professional football I’ve known has been Colts football. I played with so many great teammates. This is an organization who I respect and will continue to respect them. I guess in life and in sports, nothing lasts forever. Times change. Circumstances change. That’s the reality of playing in the NFL.”

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Multiple times, Irsay and Manning said this breakup was not about money -- though clearly that’s hard to believe (remember that $28 million bonus Manning was due at the end of this week?) -- but it was about the circumstances surrounding the organization. The Colts are going to have to rebuild after their 2-14 debacle last year. Manning, at the age of 36, wants to win now. There was no way to keep this relationship alive. Everybody wants -- and needs -- different things.

“We’re definitely a few years away,” Irsay said. “We want to see him come back and play great. … I want that opportunity for him to succeed at the end of his career … Hopefully we’ll watch Peyton win immediately.”

Where that is, Manning doesn’t know. At least that’s what he said Wednesday.

“I haven’t thought about where I’ll play,” Manning said. “But I’ve thought about where I’ve been. I’ve truly been blessed.”
And as far as retirement? Not a chance, Manning said. He said he’s making progress from his neck surgeries and getting closer to returning to his old form.

“I have some progress to make,” Manning said. “But I’ve come a long way. I’ve really worked hard. I can’t tell you the hours I’ve put in. I’ve really enjoyed being back out there.

“No, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. There’s no other team I wanted to play for. Nobody has had it better than I’ve had playing for the Colts these past 14 years. But I love playing quarterback.”

He just won’t get to do it in the city and the state that he’s grown to love the past 14 years. Which made him and Irsay -- who embraced after they were finished taking questions -- emotional.

“When I look down the road and see the many decades we’ll share together, he’s always part of the horseshoe,” Irsay said. “I can’t thank him enough.”

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 12:42 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 1:42 pm
 

Irsay, Manning press conference was all class

Manning and Irsay closed out an era in Indy the right way. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

"I sure have loved playing football for the Indianapolis Colts," Peyton Manning said to open up his final press conference with the Indianapolis Colts.

It was classic Peyton, said in his typical Southern, aw-shucks and sincere-sounding accent.

If you want to pick one word to describe the joint press conference between Jim Irsay and Manning, announcing Peyton's departure from Indianapolis, "emotional" would work. But so would "class" -- Manning and Irsay did things the right way and closed a wonderful career in an amicable fashion. (LeBron James, please take notes.)

Today's snark-filled reactionary world makes it tough to pull off a genuine public event that doesn't come off as forced. And considering the NFL world's been narrowly focused on Manning for several months now, a press conference with both divorcees present had all the makings for a trainwreck.

Instead, Irsay and Manning both deserve an A-plus for the way they handled the adversity. Irsay spoke off the cuff, and Manning had some prepared words. But they both were quick and to the point, while remaining sincere. It was a welcome change in a world where Jim Gray and Vitamin Water have made press conference cringe-worthy.


Peyton doesn't want to play anywhere else. We all know that. But he wants to play. He's even "confident" he'll play next year. And he could have talked about where, but he didn't.

"I haven't thought a lot about where I'll play," Manning said. "But I have thought a lot about where I've been."

Irsay doesn't want Peyton playing anywhere else either. He knows Peyton will though and was honest enough to wish him luck. He already made the (easy) decision to retire Manning's number too.

"The 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colt on the field," Irsay said.

Manning, fittingly, got the last word before a few brief questions from the press.

"Thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart," Peyton Manning, fighting back tears, addressed Colts fans to close out his presser.

"I truly enjoyed being your quarterback."

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:42 am
 

I'll always be grateful to Peyton Manning

Ever during his tough rookie season, Manning will be remembered as a gentleman. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

With the news that the Colts most likely will release quarterback Peyton Manning, an Indianapolis era is over. Manning was the one who led the moribund franchise into a perennial Super Bowl contender. He's the one that led the Colts to the world title. He's the one who helped convince the NFL to place Super Bowl XLVI in Lucas Oil Stadium. Hell, Manning is one of the main reasons Lucas Oil Stadium was erected in the first place.

So, it'll be a sad day when the Colts say goodbye to one of the top players in NFL history.

And it's a sad day for the reporters who covered him, as Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz put it on Twitter. "It was a joy and a privilege to watch and cover Peyton Manning. Always a class act, went out of his way to accommodate us. ... One example: After nite games, PM would talk to us right away, usually in full pads, knowing we were on deadline and in a rush. Appreciated."

I know what Kravitz means, because it was Manning 14 years ago who saved me from what could have been one of the most embarrassing moments of my young career. It was Dec. 6, 1998, and I had driven to Atlanta from Athens, Ga., to cover the Falcons-Colts game so I could write a feature on former University of Georgia offensive lineman Adam Meadows for the Red & Black, the student newspaper.

The Colts were terrible that year, finishing 3-13 in Manning's rookie season in which he led the league with 28 interceptions. On that day, though, the Colts were just as good as Atlanta, which went 14-2 that season and wound up losing to the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Manning went 19 of 27 for two touchdowns and two interceptions, and Colts running back Marshall Faulk rushed for another score as Indianapolis took a 21-7 lead in the second quarter. The Georgia Dome was stunned. The terrible Colts were en route to upsetting perhaps the best Falcons team of all time.

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But Atlanta scored and then scored again to tie the game. Then, one more time in the third quarter to take a 28-21 lead that Manning couldn't erase. The Colts fell to 2-11 that day, and the mood in the Indianapolis locker room was sour. Meadows was pleasant, but Faulk barked a non-answer at me that probably should have given me pause before I approached Manning in the corner of the locker room as he dressed after his shower.

I didn't know how locker room protocol worked, and I'm sure, by that point, Manning had already conducted his postgame press conference. But I didn't know any better. Instead, I saw a chance to get Manning one-on-one. I approached and greeted him. He looked at the floor, but he it was clear he would answer my queries after I told him I was from the UGA student paper.

I asked him a couple questions, and he answered without much enthusiasm. Then, I asked him the worst question I've ever muttered in my life. I won't mention it, because it was so god-awful brutal. But suffice to say, Manning could have -- and probably should have -- told me to get the hell out of the locker room. The question was that bad. But he didn't. He looked at me, probably sighed, and answered the question. Like it was legit. Like he wasn't standing there in his boxers wanting to disappear from the locker room. Like I hadn't just asked an idiotic question.

But he answered, and I used his quote as my kicker to that story (I apparently thought my question was that top-notch).

I'll never forget him for that. He could have blown me off and embarrassed me like Faulk. He could have excused himself and left the scene. He could have put on his pants and ignored me. He could have laughed in my face. But he didn't. He treated me like a reporter. He treated my question like it was a professional had asked it. He treated me like an adult. For that, I'll always be thankful.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 8:16 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 8:22 am
 

Manning simply too expensive for Colts to keep

In the end, Irsay would have had to pay Manning $35.5 million without knowing for sure Manning is healthy. (Getty Images)
By Pat Kirwan

In the end it wasn't salary cap space but real cash that ends the Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis.

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The $28 million bonus due the last second of the last day of the 2011 league year and the $7.5 million salary in 2012 is a $35.5 million hit without proof positive that Manning can play again. The 2011 portion of the new contract that had a $20 million signing bonus as well as a $3 million roster bonus and $3.4 million salary without a physical was his "legacy" money for a HOF career.

It didn't hurt that the Colts wind up in the spot to draft Andrew Luck and make the transition from Manning a little easier to tolerate.

The Dolphins are still looking for the Dan Marino replacement. The way the Colts structured the contract really indicates that the line in the sand was drawn for March 2012 as to how much more risk the Colts would take. Without playing a down in 2011 and not really ever being able to practice, it is over. I believe Manning will play again and now he hits free agency.

No modern day quarterback in the Hall of Fame that left his original team and joined another club ever took that new team to a Super Bowl. Joe Montana got close with the Chiefs but lost in the conference championship game. Could Peyton be the first to do it? I wouldn't bet against him.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com