Tag:Jim Irsay
Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:37 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:19 pm
 

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 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 6, 2012 11:34 pm
 

Manning, Irsay fly into Indy together

Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay, right, flew on Irsay's plane into Indy on Tuesday night. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Josh Katzowitz

Late Tuesday night, after news broke that the Colts and Peyton Manning would officially break up Wednesday, Manning and owner Jim Irsay flew together from Miami to Indianapolis on Irsay’s private plane to prepare for Wednesday’s news conference.

Latest news at Peyton's place
A handful of reporters were at the airport to meet him, including Ashley Adamson of WISH-TV in Indianapolis, who reported that Manning and Irsay left the airport in the same car and stopped for a moment for those who were waiting for them.

"We're gonna do this the right way,” Manning said Tuesday night. “We'll talk to you guys tomorrow."

Asked if he was happy, Manning said, “We're good. We're all good."

According to an Indianapolis Star report on Tuesday, the two were scheduled on the plane to continue their discussions about whether they’d really part ways and that there was still a small chance that the Colts would not get cut. At this point, though, we fully expect Wednesday's press conference will be Manning's official goodbye.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 8:20 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:20 pm
 

Peyton Manning's release: Winners/Losers

Manning

By Josh Katzowitz

With the news that the Colts and Peyton Manning will part ways Wednesday, there will, of course, be bystanders who are positively and negatively affected by the news. Here’s our list of winners and losers.

Winners

Andrew Luck: In his first year in a Colts uniform, Luck will get to experience the highs and lows of playing as a rookie quarterback. Sometimes this goes well (see Cam Newton and Andy Dalton). Sometimes this goes poorly (see, um, Peyton Manning). And while we could make the argument that Luck would do well apprenticing under a veteran for a season -- he wouldn’t have to deal with the top pick pressure for an extra year and he could learn the new offense without the media spotlight trained on his every move -- Luck will learn much more if he’s actually playing. Plus, he won’t have the Peyton Manning shadow hanging over his rookie season.

Jim Irsay: Already, Irsay has begun to renovate his team, firing Bill Polian and former coach Jim Caldwell, following the 2-14 season. Irsay has done a wonderful job turning the Colts franchise into a perennial Super Bowl contender (2011, of course, being the exception), and now, he gets to be involved in another massive rebuilding project. Manning, of course, has done perhaps more than anybody to get Super Bowl XLVI to Indianapolis and to get Lucas Oil Stadium built, but Irsay now can remake the team as he sees fit. Plus, like Luck, his team won’t have the Peyton Manning shadow hanging over the franchise in 2012.

ManningAFC South: We’ve seen what happens when Manning isn’t playing for the Colts: the rest of the division gets better! Well, except for the Jaguars, of course. But without their franchise quarterback in the lineup, the Colts went from being the scariest team in the AFC South to being the most toothless. That probably won’t change in 2012, in which the Texans -- who never could get over the Manning hump and who couldn’t make the playoffs until he wasn’t playing -- will be one of the favorites in the AFC. Without Manning, Houston might have the chance to become the new Indianapolis.

Colts fans: In some sense, the city has been held hostage by the Manning-Irsay impasse, and it actually overshadowed the early part of Super Bowl week. But without Manning around, the salary cap won’t be as rigid, and with Luck coming into town (we assume), he’ll bring a new sense of excitement to the organization and to the city in general. Yes, Indianapolis will miss a community leader in Manning, but who’s to say Luck couldn’t fill that role anyway.

Losers

Matt Flynn: In our free agent quarterback rankings, we listed Drew Brees as No. 1, Manning as No. 2, and Flynn as No. 3. Brees has been franchise-tagged by the Saints, and it’s clear that the possibility of landing Manning will overshadow whatever Flynn will be trying to do. Flynn to Miami? Well, let’s see if the Dolphins can land Manning first. Flynn to (fill in the blank)? Well, let’s see if (fill in the blank) can land Manning first. Flynn likely won’t be anybody’s first choice, and you have to wonder how that will affect his bottom line. Would you rather have Manning, even if he’s not completely healthy, or Flynn? The answer is obvious.

Robert Griffin III: While the Manning release is good news for Andrew Luck, it might mean something different for RG3. Like Flynn (though probably not as much as Flynn), other quarterback-needy teams will look at Manning first before (possibly) trying to trade up with the Rams in order to draft Griffin after Luck. Like Flynn, this might limit Griffin’s options, and it might actually mean Griffin isn’t taken with the No. 2 pick. That probably won’t happen, but if one of the teams (say, ahem, Washington) looking at Griffin ultimately goes with Manning and the rest of league believe St. Louis’ price is too high, you have to wonder if Griffin will fall to the fourth pick.

Manning’s bank account: Not that he needs financial assistance, but cashing in on a $28 million bonus would have been pretty sweet.

Rob Lowe: I guess we can forget about Lowe’s budding journalism career. While he was right in believing that Manning was done in Indianapolis, Lowe also reported that Manning would retire. That’s not going to happen, and unfortunately for Lowe, reporters don’t credit for being half-right.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 6:13 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:21 pm
 

Colts, Manning will part ways Wednesday

After 14 years, Manning and Irsay are getting set to split. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts are breaking up, and they’ll make it official at a news conference Wednesday, CBSSport.com's Mike Freeman has confirmed.


The news was first reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

The decision isn’t a surprise, considering Indianapolis was highly unlikely to pay Manning his $28 million bonus when so much about the health of his neck is unknown.

Thus ends a 14-year partnership when Manning took over a moribund Colts squad and helped develop the franchise into one of the best in the NFL.

Sources tell Mortensen that Manning -- who will be in attendance at the presser along with owner Jim Irsay -- will try to continue his career.

But this day was due to come. No matter how much love is shared by Irsay and Manning -- and despite their pissing contest this offseason, the two have had a strong relationship during their time together -- the Colts couldn’t continue on with a Manning-sized quarterback question. It's all but certain that Indianapolis will take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the draft, and though a Luck apprenticeship under Manning would have been fine for a year or two (even Luck said he’d be cool with it), it wouldn’t have helped the organization if Manning decided he wants to play another half-decade.

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And what of Manning’s health? A workout video of what appeared to be Manning was leaked last weekend, and Manning -- if it really was him -- appeared to be in fine form. But remember, a report a few weeks ago said that Manning actually had a fourth neck procedure and that he might need another spinal fusion.

The spin emanating from both sides was almost comparable to the current Presidential race. You didn’t know what to believe.
Well, we can believe this: we have seen the last of Manning in a Colts uniform.

Which leads us to this question: Where does he go from here? The Dolphins seem to be a front-runner, because of the supposed Manning infatuation of owner Stephen Ross. As do the Cardinals, who could be willing to end the one-year Kevin Kolb experiment, and the Redskins -- who are always willing to try to become the offseason champion. The Chiefs and the Jets also could be in play, especially considering Romeo Crennel and Rex Ryan haven’t given their respective quarterbacks huge endorsements.

Also, this is bad news for Matt Flynn, who automatically becomes less interesting to the league when Manning hits the market. And depending on when Manning signs with another team -- which, if he’s released, he could do immediately, as opposed to waiting until free agency begins March 13 -- he could have an effect on the teams that might be interested in trading with the Rams for the right to draft Robert Griffin III.

Though we seemingly know the outcome to the Manning-Colts marriage, there are still plenty of questions to be answered in the weeks to come.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 10:43 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Report: Colts have until 4pm Friday to cut Peyton

We get a free 24 hours of Peyton drama! (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Thursday, March 8 has been pegged on the calendar as "Peyton Manning Day" for quite some time. That's when the Colts must make a decision on whether or not to pick up Manning's $28 million option bonus and activate the rest of his contract. But not so fast, my friends: the Colts can actually keep Manning on the roster as late as Friday at 4 p.m. ET without paying him any money.

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That's according to a report from Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network, who writes that while Thursday is the deadline for Manning's option bonus, Sunday -- two days before the beginning of the new league year -- is the "non-exercise payment date" on Manning's contract.

However, there's one more wrinkle. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk correctly points out, and has since confirmed via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, that NFL business must be transacted by 4 p.m. ET on Friday.

Therefore, if the Colts don't pick up Manning's option bonus on Thursday but also don't cut Manning before 4 p.m. ET on Friday, they'll owe him $28 million as a result of the non-exercise fee. However, if the Colts don't exercise his option, as Florio points out, he will still be under contract for the 2012 season until they decide to cut him.

The failure to pay the option bonus, per Florio, will simply wipe out the 2013-2015 portions of Peyton's contract. (Ed. Note: This is an update from what we previously had here.)

So what would be the point of keeping Manning past Thursday? Well, Jim Irsay could ultimately decide that he does want to pay Manning $28 million to play for the Colts -- or, more accurately, not play somewhere else -- in 2012. The Colts could would not be able, however, to cut him past Friday at 4 p.m. ET without paying him the $28 million and sending him on his way.

The Colts could also decide to wait until Friday to engage in talks with Manning on a renegotiated contract. But if no deal is reached and the Colts decide to cut Manning after the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Friday, then Manning would get $28 million for the non-exercise fee and would become a free agent.

Which is why it makes more sense, if the Colts are truly prepared to move on without Manning, to do so at an earlier time than on 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Friday.

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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