On Wednesday, Jim Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts did the one thing we never thought that we would hear in out wildest dreams: They Released Peyton Manning. Now that the Manning era is over in Indianapolis, not only do the Colts have plenty (plenty!) of rebuilding to do, but Peyton Manning has a
crucial decision to make: Where will he play next season?
As the most colossal free agent the NFL has ever seen, Peyton Manning has reportedly received offers from 12 teams: the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets and four others have reached out to Peyton Manning and his representatives.
Out of those twelve teams, one of those stands out as where Peyton Manning should go: the Arizona Cardinals, and here’s why.
Defense (and Peyton Manning) wins championships
While the Cardinals did struggle at times last season, they were 6-2 in the second-half of the season, winning five or their last six. This was due largely in part to their astounding defense. Adrian Wilson, Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell and Darnell Docket highlight a defense with the potential to deliver for Manning down the stretch. The Cardinals defense really picked up its game down the stretch, which may be a good sign if they can acquire Manning because three of the past four Super Bowl Champions (Giants, Packers, Steelers) have had defenses that gave up 17 or less points per game in the second-half of the season. And having Peyton Manning “manning the offense” doesn’t hurt your team’s chances. A solid defense is something Peyton Manning didn’t have in Indianapolis.
Dome sweet dome
In Indianapolis, Peyton Manning and the Colts played in a dome (the house that Peyton built). Once a dome quarterback, always a dome quarterback. Peyton Manning needs to be in a dome or a warm-weather city. During his 2009-10 MVP season, Manning’s quarterback rating in weather warmer than 60 degrees was 98.3. In weather 21 degrees or colder, his rating sunk to 65.5. Even though we know Manning has the capacity to thrive in any
weather, he will always perform in domes, and Arizona can offer that to him, as they play at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
These Cardinals can’t fly, but they sure can run
Another thing Peyton Manning didn’t have in Indianapolis is a solid running game. Joseph Addai led a lackluster effort in this phase of the game the last few seasons. In Arizona, Beanie Wells leads a strong running game. Last season, Wells ran for 1,047 yards with ten touchdowns. Elite quarterbacks always need a strong running game to bolster the offense. While Peyton Manning will electrify the field with his play, he will need a running back like Wells to go along with that. In Indianapolis, the main reason why he and the Colts were 9-10 in the Postseason was because of a lack of a someone like Wells. In Arizona that problem, would be solved.
In Indianapolis, Manning always had at least one go-to receiver (Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne), and Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver in the NFL. While all the attention goes to Andre and Calvin Johnson, Fitzgerald is still number one. Johnson and Johnson get great stats, and thats due in part to the fact that they have great quarterbacks slinging the ol’ pigskin to them. Fitzgerald has a struggling Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. The one year when he had a first-rate quarterback for an entire season (Kurt Warner), he had a career season, with 1,431 yards and 12 touchdowns. Just imagine Peyton Manning, arguably the most accurate quarterback of all time, firing it to Larry Fitzgerald, the league’s
premier receiver. Wow. That’s picture perfect.
“History is written by the victors”
The last time the Arizona Cardinals picked up an aging, Hall-of-Fame caliber quarterback, it was Kurt Warner, who quickly lead them to Super Bowl XLIII in his first starting season. He was brought into the same situation–a strong defense, a dome (he previously played in St. Louis, a dome team), a solid running game, and Larry Fitzgerald. I’m not saying that Peyton Manning would automatically earn a spot in the Super Bowl, but the opportunity is there for him to make history,
If Peyton Manning signs with the Arizona Cardinals, not only would he immediately push them into the upper echelon of teams, but he would be in a better situation than the one in Indianapolis. The combination of all these traits can’t be offered to Manning by any team but the Arizona Cardinals. If Peyton Manning takes his talents to Arizona, not only will he have a chance to make a run at the Super Bowl, but he will have a chance to really Shuffle the Cards of
the NFL as we know it.
By Sam Brief
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, I would love to know where you think Peyton Manning should take his talents!