Tag:Eli Manning
Posted on: March 8, 2012 3:08 pm
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Report: Eli reworks contract, saves Giants $6.75M

Eli's restructured his deal to help the Giants make another run. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We've spent most of the past week talking about Peyton Manning, but his little brother Eli Manning -- you know, the one who just won a Super Bowl -- deserves some love too. Especially since he just reportedly restructured his contract to save the Giants some room under the salary cap.

According to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, Eli made changes to his contract that will get him more money immediately and lower his salary for 2012.

Originally, Manning stood to make $10.75 million in 2012. Under the new restructured terms, his salary will be just $1.75 million, though he pockets $9 million right now. (Decent payday, and well worth the money.)

That means the Giants will receive $6.75 million in cap relief for 2012. Manning's contract for 2013, 2014 and 2015 remains unchanged: he'll still make $13 million, $15.15 million and $17.5 million, respectively.

It's a wise move for both sides. Manning gets a big cash payment, the Giants get more room (they were one of the more salary-soaked teams in the NFL) and Eli allows the Giants to try and keep valuable pieces around him, as they look to re-load and make another run at a title.

Here's an interesting additional twist, courtesy of Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk: because Peyton and Eli are now making significantly less than they were a week ago for 2012, recently-franchised Saints quarterback Drew Brees could see his franchise-tag value take a serious dip. Obviously that could change depending on how much Peyton signs for whenever he signs, but for now, it's just another reason for Brees to be less than thrilled.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:45 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: NFC East preview

Can Jerry get Tony enough help in 2012? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas 2011 season reeked of redemption for a lost 2010 season much of the way through. Despite close (and awkward) losses to the Patriots, Jets and Lions, the Cowboys rolled into December on a four-game winning streak, with a shot at closing out the NFC East. Then things absolutely fell apart: Jason Garrett iced his own kicker in an overtime loss to Arizona, Tony Romo overthrew Miles Austin in a tight Week 14 loss to the Giants, Romo was injured the next week in a meaningless game against the Eagles and Dallas got pounded by the eventual Super Bowl champs on New Years Day. Then Jerry Jones team had to watch the 9-7 Giants march to a Super Bowl victory. Not a fun couple of months for them. And though most of the blame usually finds its way onto Romo or Garrett, significant upgrades on the offensive line and secondary could go a long way towards fixing the Cowboys problems and making them a legit contender.

Free Agents of Note
Linebacker Anthony Spencer was tagged on Monday by Dallas, so he'll be back at least one more year and could get a longer deal ... Tight end Martellus Bennett is a good blocker but hasn't panned out the way Dallas wanted ... Linebacker Keith Brooking is 36 but has drawn interest from Dallas to return in 2012 ... FB Tony Fiammetta is an RFA and needs to be retained, especially given the work he did for DeMarco Murray last year ... Linebacker Bradie James is 31 and could be gone ... Wide receiver Laurent Robinson really clicked with Tony Romo in 2012 and would be a big re-addition ... Punter Mat McBriar could be done in Dallas if the 'Boys want to move forward with Chris Jones.

Needs
Secondary
: Terence Newman, 33, could be a cap/age casualty and Abram Elam, Frank Walker and Alan Ball are free agents. If Dallas plans on remaining as aggressive as defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wants them to be, they'll need to drastically improve the secondary.
Guard
: Tyron Smith and Doug Free flipped sides and are locked in at tackle, but the interior of the line needs improvement.

Targets
Brandon Carr or Cortland Finnegan would be an ideal target for Dallas as longer-term options. Neither is expected to remain with their respective teams. But if the Cowboys can't get Carr, they'll need to pursue some shorter-term options like Carlos Rogers. Guard is deep in free agency too, and it would behoove the Cowboys to invest in a stud like Carl Nicks. Getting Spencer signed to a long-term deal, rather than give him $9 million in 2012, would do a lot for their cap space.

New York Giants

It's crazy to think that the Super Bowl champion Giants looked DOA by the start of the regular season; an almost unbelievable (were it not true) string of injuries hit the team before the season began. The Giants looked even worse off in the middle of a late-season swoon that featured some of the toughest

Free Agents of Note:
Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham is going to get overpaid somewhere else based on his postseason performance ... Secret Super Bowl hero Steve Weatherford got the franchise tag Monday, so he'll be back in 2012 ... Wideout Domenik Hixon's already been re-signed ... Cornerback Aaron Ross says he wants to return but won't commit to a "hometown" discount ... Terrell Thomas was lost in the preseason but is closing in on a deal with the Giants ... Deon Grant is scheduled for free agency as well ... Both Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe tore their ACLs in the Super Bowl, so the Giants have to sign someone to play tight end ... Kareem McKenzie is 32-years-old and the Giants could be ready to move on after he struggled last season.

Needs
Tight End: This seems like a classic "address it at the end of the first round" issue, since the Giants could have their pick of Cody Fleener, Orson Charles and Dwayne Allen at No. 32. If not, they'll need to get someone from a not-so-attractive free agent pile.
Offensive Line: This is a unit that's getting older quickly. David Deihl can work anywhere on the line, but he's 31.
Secondary: If the Giants get Thomas, they could be fine here, as they've already got Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle. But last year proved how important depth really is, so it wouldn't be surprising to see them beef up the position.

Targets
The Giants are tight up against the salary cap this offseason, but are also coming off a year where they won the Super Bowl. The pressure isn't too intense on them to make a big splash with outside guys in free agency (nor should it be). If they can find value in a some cheaper offensive line options with a little upside (Geoff Schwartz anyone?) that would make the most sense in terms of an outside pick up.

Philadelphia Eagles

You know what happened here: a dream-team season quickly turned into a nightmare out of the gates, and the Eagles were the laughingstock of the NFL as they fell to 1-4. They finally turned things around with a four-game winning streak to close out at 8-8, giving Philly fans plenty of hope for 2012. (Not to mention helping Andy Reid's job security.) But there are still concerns here, because the Eagles have to get some linebackers and safeties in order to stop the run, manage their high-priced cornerbacks in a more efficient manner and keep Michael Vick from getting tattooed by opposing defenders. It's unlikely that Philly will make the same splash in free agency as they did in 2011, but that could actually be a good thing.

Free Agents: Running back Ronnie Brown might've thrown away (literally) any chance he had of returning to Philly ... DeSean Jackson got the franchise tag, and the team could still sign him long term or seek to trade him ... King Dunlap and Evan Mathis are both free agents on the offensive line; Mathis wants to return and should be priority No. 1 ... Trevor Laws, Juqua Parker and Derek Landri would depart the defensive line's depth if they all left ... Vince Young and Steve Smith, two big-name additions that didn't contribute much in 2011, seem likely to bolt.
Needs
Linebacker: Luke Koechly is the hot name for the Eagles in the draft, but his stock is rising and might not be available. Getting a middle linebacker who can stuff the run is absolutely essential for the Eagles defense in 2012. Adding some help at outside linebacker would be a bonus; acquiring linebackers isn't really Andy Reid's forte though.
Defensive Line Depth: The Eagles still have Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin and Trent Cole starting, but as noted above, they're going to need depth to keep those guys fresh throughout the year.

Targets
Linebacker, as noted, is the biggest need. Fortunately for the Eagles, there are some nice names out there. Stephen Tulloch and Curtis Lofton represent pricier, albeit talented, options at middle linebacker. Dan Connor's a name that's been rumored with Philly and he could make sense as a run-stopping specialist who doesn't cost that much.

Washington Redskins

As Clark Judge recently wrote, the Redskins are running out of options for 2012. Either get Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III or prepare to move on from Mike Shanahan. They'll have their chance at each, as Manning will be a free agent soon and the Rams are willing to deal the No. 2 pick in April's draft. And the Redskins success really could come down to the quarterback position: if they can get Manning or RG3 and put suitable weapons around one of those guys (I personally prefer RG3 for them), Washington could net a few more wins and at least challenge for the division title that Rex Grossman guaranteed before 2011 started.

Free Agents
Fred Davis was franchised and remains the team's most explosive offensive weapon but he needs to stay out of trouble ... Tim Hightower fits what Mike Shanahan wants to do but wasn't as effect ... London Fletcher is old but remains effective and the Redskins need him back ... Rex Grossman seems destined to remain with Shanny forever, even if it's just on one-year deals ... Graham Gano was tendered and should be back ... Washington's already re-signed center Will Montgomery ... LaRon Landry can't stay healthy but Washington might gamble on him at a cheap price ... Roy Helu makes Tim Hightower expendable, though Hightower was decent in his five starts before being injured.
Needs
Quarterback: Quite obviously.
Wide Receiver: Jabar Gaffney shouldn't be anyone's No. 1 wideout. If the Skins go with the Manning route, it's entirely possible they can lure other free-agent wideouts into town. Either way, reports indicate they want to get a "high-profile wide receiver" and that's a good thing. Pairing Manning or RG3 with a viable wideout could make this offense explosive in 2012.
Offensive Line: Washington's set at several slots on the front, but could use an upgrade on the right side, where Jamaal Brown in particular has not been as good as they'd hoped.
Targets
Manning's the main target here. If they can't get Peyton, then the Skins have to get RG3. Both are attainable, it's just whether or not the cost is prohibitive. Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne and Marques Colston would all qualify as "marquee" wideouts. Ben Grubbs and Carl Nicks would be obviously be tremendous adds and allow the Redskins to shift some personnel and improve their line. Evan Mathis would take away from a division opponent as well.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 10:26 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 10:35 am
 

Bucs hire Mike Sullivan as offensive coordinator

The Bucs hope Sullivan can do for Freeman what he did for Manning in New York. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Four years ago, then-Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was responsible for the game plan that helped New York to an improbable victory over the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. A year later, he landed the Rams head-coaching gig based largely off what he accomplished that night.

Things didn't quite go according to plan in St. Louis (Spagnuolo sandwiched one- and two-win seasons around a 7-9 effort in 2010); he was mercifully relieved of his duties this January.

Giants quarterback coach Mike Sullivan appears to be following a similar path; after serving as Eli Manning's quarterback coach for the past two seasons, he has been hired by new Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano to serve as the team's offensive coordinator.

"We are very fortunate to add someone like Mike Sullivan to lead our offensive coaching staff," Schiano said in a statement. "He is a man of character and a complete football coach, who fits with the kind of football team we are building here. His work with the Giants over the past eight seasons speaks for itself. Mike was an integral part of that team winning two Super Bowls in the last five years and we look forward to him bringing that experience and expertise to our club."

Sullivan, who was hired the same day he interviewed for the position, was the Giants' wide receivers coach from 2004-2009 and coached the quarterbacks in 2010-11 after Chris Palmer left for the UFL.

As the Newark Star-Ledger's Mike Garafolo notes, Sulliven was criticized in 2010 when Manning tossed 25 interceptions (even though he also threw for more than 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns).

A season later, Manning was one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He threw for 4,933 yards -- including 29 touchdowns and 16 picks -- completed 61 percent of his passes and had a career-best 8.4 yards per attempt. According to Football Outsiders' quarterback efficiency metric, Manning ranked sixth in total value behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Matt Stafford.  In four postseason games, including the Super Bowl, Manning had nine touchdowns, a lone pick and a passer rating of 103.3.

Sullivan will be tasked with revitalizing an offense that stagnated last season after a surprising 10-6 effort in 2010. Quarterback Josh Freeman was a top-10 quarterback heading into training camp; he was coming off a 25 TD-6 INT effort in '10 and seemed ready to get the Bucs back to the playoffs. But he -- along with everybody else on the team -- regressed in 2011.

By the time it was over, Freeman had 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions and Tampa Bay limped into the offseason with a 4-12 record. The result cost Raheem Morris his job, but provided Sullivan an opportunity to hopefully do for Freeman what he did for Manning.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 9:48 am
 

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

Anyone else see what stadium they're in? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

This is the season of Peyton Manning rumors. We hear he has "a noodle arm." We hear he cannot "throw the ball to the left." We think there's no way he could play for the Colts again after all the drama leading up to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. But what do we know?

Nothing, at least when it comes to Manning's future. In the interest of trying to figure out what uniform -- if any -- Peyton will play, let's handicap the race for one of the all-time greats in 2012.

Anything and everything is in play, except for teams that already have what we'll loosely term a "franchise quarterback." The Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys, Packers, Lions, Bears, Saints, Falcons, Panthers and Rams all have their guy.

The Jaguars, Raiders, Vikings, Buccaneers and Broncos have very recent first-round investments in quarterbacks and aren't likely to pursue Manning. The Bills have a lot invested in Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Peyton Manning isn't going to play in Buffalo. It's like Cleveland. Ain't happening.

That leaves the 49ers, Titans, Chiefs, Jets, Seahawks, Colts, Redskins, Cardinals and Dolphins as possible landing spots. We'll break down the scenarios in our order of likelihood and provide actual available odds from Bovada.lv and/or the Vegas percentages from RJ Bell of Pregame.com.

Longshots

49ers: The Niners could perceive Manning as the guy to put them over the top. But Jim Harbaugh says he's got "their guy" in incumbent-but-still-free-agent quarterback Alex Smith. Maybe he means it. Or maybe he's just doing good public relations. It would be a fascinating fit for a number of reasons (Andrew Luck's old coach anyone?) though.
Vegas Odds: 2%


Chiefs: Matt Cassel isn't the long-term answer for anyone, but he did make a Pro Bowl (thanks, schedule-makers!) and he is Scott Pioli's guy. Plus, Romeo Crennel -- a defensive coordinator -- is from the previous regime as well. Oh, and this is Patriots Midwest. Makes no sense.
Vegas Odds: 1.5%


Titans: This would make sense ... except the Titans have already invested in a veteran (Matt Hasselbeck, three-year deal) and a rookie (Jake Locker, first round in 2011). Plus, they came out and said they're not chasing him.
Vegas Odds: 1.5%

Jets

Vegas Odds: 11%
Actual Line: 5/1
Everyone will tell you the Jets are the perfect fit, as they're "just one piece away." This couldn't be further from the truth: the Jets are "several pieces away" at least. Some of those pieces are on defense and some of those piece are on offense. Quarterback is one of the pieces they need, but plugging Peyton onto Rex Ryan's roster wouldn't even make them the favorite to win the AFC East, unless he was 100 percent healthy.

There are also people that will tell Eli vs. Peyton in New York is the ultimate storyline. While that's true, that doesn't mean it's something either of those guys want to deal with for the length of their current contracts. You saw what happened at the Super Bowl, right? Every question pointed to Eli was about Peyton's neck and his recovery ... even though Eli was playing for a Super Bowl. It would be magnified in the Big Apple.

And don't think Manning doesn't see a parallel to Brett Favre with the Jets option either. Look at the way he's handled his business thus far; looking like Favre is the last thing he wants.

Seahawks

Vegas Odds: N/A
Actual Line: N/A
Everyone's sleeping on Pete Carroll! That terrifies me to no end. Look, there are plenty of reasons why this doesn't make sense. There's no guaranteed running game (Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett are both free agents), the offensive line's young and injury-prone thus far and Sidney Rice is the best receiving option.

But the defense is good in Seattle, the coach is enthusiastic, and as we note with the Cardinals below, the NFC West is a much better path to the Super Bowl than a lot of other spots. There are also plenty of offensive skill-position guys available in free agency, so it's possible the Seahawks could convince Peyton to take snaps in Seattle and then let him play pied piper for other talented players.

Retirement

Vegas Odds: 20%
Actual Line: N/A
We have to talk about it, you know? Bovada's not offering a betting line on this, but this is the most-likely scenario according to RJ Bell, as Vegas' odds give it a 20 percent chance.

I don't buy it ... but only for this year. Even if -- hypothetically speaking -- there are still reports about Manning only being able to sling his noodle to the right side of the field when March 13 comes around and -- somehow -- no one signs him, he'll keep rehabbing the entire season, getting healthy and will get a call from someone with an injured quarterback midway through the year. Last year there was a waiver scramble for Kyle Orton and the Bears actually considering calling Favre.

Manning would get a job, worst case, by November. Which is precisely why someone like the Redskins would go ahead sign him anyway, regardless of how healthy he is.

Colts

Vegas Odds: 14%
Actual Line: 3/1
Here's a theory I meant to throw out there during Super Bowl week: Jim Irsay and Peyton are punking everyone. They're having fun with everyone by acting like they hate each other, even though they have a master plan in place. Irsay will not pick up Manning's option on March 8, allowing him to become a free agent. But then Manning will re-sign with the Colts as a free agent, allowing them to limit the cap damage his contract does. He would still have $10.4 million in dead cap space if they don't pick up the option, which still gives them something like $18 million to work with.

The Colts can make his new contract cap-friendly and incentive-laden, and let Peyton finish his career as a Colt. They can also draft Andrew Luck or, if Luck decides to make a stink about playing behind Peyton, trade the pick or draft Robert Griffin, III.

There are reasons why this makes no sense: the actual disdain between Irsay and Peyton, the distraction that Peyton's situation was to Eli in the Super Bowl, Peyton's unwillingness to take less money to play for the same team and the Colts need to rebuild all the way, to name a few. But we're still throwing it out there.

Cardinals

Vegas Odds: 3%
Actual Line: 2.5/1

Vegas doesn't like this option, but it makes a lot of sense to me. They need to do work on the offensive line, but those problems can be addressed through free agency and the draft. Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald, a top-five wideout in the NFL, who somehow managed to catch 170 passes for 2,548 yards with John Skelton, Max Hall and Kevin Kolb under center the last two years. They have Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams in the backfield and a defense that came on strong at the end of 2011.

The Cardinals also play in a division that's conquerable right away; the NFC West might pose the path of least resistance when it comes to obtaining a Super Bowl. Arizona's lacked a franchise quarterback since Kurt Warner retired two years ago, and don't think Fitzgerald wouldn't welcome this move with open arms.

The Kurt Warner parallel here is perfect for Manning, even if Warner's path to Arizona was much different than Manning's would be.

Shanahan and Peyton together: What could go wrong? (Getty Images)

Redskins

Vegas Odds: 17%
Actual Line: 2.5/1
No surprise here, but Vegas likes the Redskins a lot. After all, it's the Redskins. They throw big money at the biggest names, and no name in the history of free agency would be bigger than Peyton Manning. (I agree with Mike Freeman that Reggie White was a bigger free agent, but only because he wasn't an unknown. But Peyton's a bigger "name.")

The Redskins also think they're one piece away from making a run in the NFC East, even though they lack a lot more than just a quarterback. Who's Peyton throwing to? Who's running the ball behind Peyton? Who's protecting Peyton? WHY IS KYLE SHANAHAN ROLLING HIM OUT TO THE RIGHT?

But seriously: Mike and Kyle Shanahan have an offensive system that is absolutely tailored to a guy like RG3. They should make their all-in move on draft day, hop the Browns and grab the Baylor quarterback. He would be an instant superstar in Shanny's system and, in my opinion, more effective than Peyton for Washington in 2012. Of course, having said all that, this is Dan Snyder's team. Don't count them out to grab Peyton.

Dolphins

Vegas Odds: 20%
Actual Line: 3/1
The Dolphins are everyone's favorite, and it makes good sense. They have a blossoming running game and with Manning under center, Reggie Bush would only be more effective. They have talented wide receivers, with Brandon Marshall holding No. 1 potential. (Davonne Bess ain't no slouch, and Bush is a fantastic receiving option as well.)

They have a franchise left tackle in Jake Long. They have a talented defense, with only a limited number of free agents that need re-signing. They have an owner who wants to sexy-up the offense and bring in celebrities to the stadium. No one is, um, sexier than Peyton Manning. (And Stephen Ross is "infatuated" with him, reportedly. Me-ow.)

Manning owns a condo in South Beach. He'd get to play his top rival, Tom Brady, twice a year. He'd also get a ridiculously easy schedule in 2012, as outside the AFC East the Dolphins play the Jaguars, Titans, Rams, Seahawks, Raiders, Texans, 49ers, Cardinals and Bengals.

Oh right, one more team: the Colts. In Indy. It's all a little too perfect.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:08 am
 

Brady told O'Brien he threw ball away on safety

Hard to blame Brady for throwing it away. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Much ado's been made about the safety on the first Patriots offensive play of the game in the Super Bowl last Sunday -- Tom Brady threw the ball to no one while standing in his own end zone. But was intentional grounding the right call? And did some receiver mess up a route that caused Brady to throw the ball where he did?

Turns out, no. Brady actually was throwing it away. On the Sound FX portion of NFL Replay, NFL Films caught Brady telling (former) offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien that he did in fact throw it away after first trying to find Rob Gronkowski, then Wes Welker and finally feeling heat from Justin Tuck.

"I looked to Gronk, I looked to Wes, he dropped and then I felt [Tuck]," Brady said. "I had no place to throw it away. I threw it over his head. I didn't want to throw an interception."

So it's a pretty clear case of intentional grounding, provided Brady was in the pocket (he was) and therefore a clear safety provided Brady was in the end zone (he was). That didn't stop Bill Belichick from arguing the call with referee John Parry through.

Sound FX picked up Belichick calling Parry over and saying "The intentional grounding call ..."

"What's the problem with it?" Parry replied.

"He had a guy coming in there -- he didn't throw it to him. But he had a guy that was coming in there," Belichick said. "I mean, damn."

There are four parts up on NFL.com (if you don't have NFL Network) and all are worth watching. As we noted earlier on Thursday, one clip shows Belichick telling his defense to stifle Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and "make" the Giants find Mario Manningham on their final drive.

Unfortunately for Belichick, that worked out about as well as his attempt to argue that Brady didn't throw the ball away.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 9:17 am
Edited on: February 9, 2012 9:44 am
 

Belichick at SB: 'Make em go to Manningham'

Eli didn't mind going to Manningham. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

It's always fascinating to see how NFL sausage is made: Sound FX and NFL replays do just that. There's a particularly interesting nugget from Sunday's Super Bowl that occurred in between "The Drop" by Wes Welker and "The Catch XLVI" by Mario Manningham.

Bill Belichick, talking to the Patriots defense, told them how to handle pass protection. He wanted them to bottle up Giants wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and "make 'em go to Manningham."

"This is still a Cruz and Nicks game," Belichick said on the sideline. "I mean, I know we're right on 'em. It's tight. But those are still the guys. Make 'em go to Manningham. Make 'em go to Pascoe. Alright? Let's make sure we get Cruz and Nicks."

You know how this works out, right? Not well: Eli Manning slung a teardrop towards the Patriots sideline that Manningham somehow managed to real in ... right in front of Belichick. Belichick challenged and lost.

"He caught it," a dejected Tom Brady said in the Sound FX video.

Thought not for any real fault of either Belichick or his defensive backs. Manning got what he admitted was a bad look at Manningham (after he looked to Cruz and Nicks, who were covered) and just made an unbelievable throw into an unbelievably tight window. I can still see the ball in the air when I try to envision it. There's no way he should've completed that pass.

And it's probably a matchup that Belichick would take again.

H/T: Ultimate NYG

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 5:37 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 2:51 pm
 

Indy writer on Peyton: His 'arm is a noodle'

Assuming he's healthy, all signs are pointing to Manning playing elsewhere in 2012. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Peyton Manning's change in fortune has been swift. Prior to the 2011 season, the general perception of what he meant to Indianapolis went something like this: he had singlehandedly saved the Colts from themselves, led them to a Super Bowl title in 2006, and his accomplishments were the currency that helped fund Lucas Oil Stadium.

NFL Offseason Begins

Now, days removed from Super Bowl XLVI -- hosted in Indianapolis by the way -- Manning has gone from patron saint of the city to public enemy No. 1. Maybe that's a slight exaggeration but not by much.

In the weeks prior to the Giants-Patriots matchup, Manning spoke with the Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz about his future with the Colts. The takeaway: Peyton had no intentions of retiring, even if his future wasn't with in Indy.

Owner Jim Irsay fired back, calling Manning "a politician," the two then issued a joint statement professing great love and admiration for one another. And that appeared to be that. Neither side spoke in specifics about their situations during Super Bowl Week … until Thursday evening, when Manning's camp leaked word that Manning had been medically cleared to play. This was news to everyone, including Irsay, who tweeted hours later that "Peyton has not passed our physical nor has he been cleared to play for The Indianapolis Colts."

And it was at that point that the public, which had firmly supported Peyton basically since the moment he was drafted in 1998, began to view the franchise quarterback differently.

During a Wednesday appearance on "The Tony Kornheiser Show," Kravitz talked about the he-said, he-said back-and-forth posturing by both camps and what it means for the future of Peyton and the Colts.

"I think people are starting to sway over to Jim Irsay's side on this," Kravitz told Kornheiser. "… It's such a no-brainer. It's been a no-brainer since they went to 0-13. He could give them money to play football. Andrew Luck has got to play, okay? It's not even about the $35 million anymore. I mean, the guy's arm is a noodle, he can't throw like an NFL quarterback, and by March 8, there's no way of knowing whether he's going to be ready or not."

Wow. "Arm is a noodle" is nowhere near "been medically cleared to play." But that doesn't mean Manning won't be healthy at some point. It's just that nobody knows when.

“I know some of the people that have seen him throw,” Kravitz continued. "They say he’s not throwing like an NFL quarterback yet. That doesn’t mean he never will.  This thing is going to take time. Structurally, he’s sound. Structurally, he can take a hit.”

In response to a question from Kornheiser that "Manning hijacked the Super Bowl," Kravitz responded, "I'm quite sure [Peyton] did it deliberately.

"I lost a lot of -- I don't want to say respect for him -- but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and not say that his conversation with me was political and calculated, but there's no doubt in my mind that that story breaking Thursday night right around the time every single TV station is doing an exclusive on Andrew Luck (and, it turns out, blog).

"It comes out on Thursday night about six o'clock -- that doesn't come out unless the Peyton Manning camp wants it to come out. They're putting public pressure on Jim Irsay. It was calculated, it was deceptive, I didn't think it was a good time to do it. And, yes, he absolutely stole the Super Bowl. … I don't think there's any doubt that he stole some of the attention away from the Super Bowl.

"Look, that story was going to be there whether he opened his mouth or not, but he had given us every indication that he was going to go underground and only do his Gatorade and DirecTV thing and then shut the hell up," Kravitz said. "And he didn't do that. I thought that that was kind of smarmy. …

"You got Andrew Luck, just start over, I wish they could make the decision today or tomorrow and move on with it. Instead we're just … holding onto something that doesn't really exist."

So, yeah, if it wasn't obvious before, we think it couldn't be clearer now: Peyton's played his last game for the Colts, and Eli was the last Manning to play in Lucas Oil Stadium during the 2011 season.

Now the only question is if the Redskins are still interested in Manning's services. (Obvious answer: of course they are!)

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:56 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 3:42 pm
 

Peyton Manning 'couldn't be happier' for Eli

Eli and Peyton are bros. Literally. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

It's not crazy to think that Peyton Manning could've been jealous after watching his younger brother Eli Manning win a Super Bowl at Peyton's home stadium in Indianapolis. But Peyton says he's not and that he "couldn't be happier" for Eli.

That's according to Mike Chappelle of the Indianapolis Star, who caught up with Peyton after the Giants Super Bowl win on Sunday.

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"I couldn't be happier for Eli, prouder of Eli," Peyton said. "I want nothing but the best for him. I think he will continue to win more Super Bowls. There is no envy whatsoever in our relationship. He deserves this."

Peyton was asked if there might be a bit of one-upmanship taking place with their relationship, now that Eli has two Super Bowl rings and Peyton "only" has one. But he insisted that's not the sort of dynamic that goes on in the Manning family.

"Eli and I don't play that game," Peyton said. "The relationship of Eli, Cooper and I is not about trying to rub it in or anything like that. It's about love, nothing but love."

We wrote after the game that, regardless of what Peyton says, it still stinks to see your little brother with more Super Bowl wins than you. And we still believe that. But at the same time, it's not like Peyton's endured some horrible NFL career, floundering in Eli's shadow.

If anything, Peyton's probably thrilled that the world's ready to take Eli out of his shadow; if there's one thing that male siblings understand even more than a rivalry, it's protecting one another.

Eli's safe from criticism for quite a while now. In fact, his only concern might be getting asked too often what Peyton will do in the future.

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