Sports

NFL Analysis: Where Does Peyton Manning Go From Here?

| by

Watching Peyton Manning’s news conference today brought to mind the lyrics of the old Chicago song, Feeling Stronger Everyday

I do believe in you and I know you believe in me, oh yeah, oh yeah.
And now we realize love`s not all that it`s supposed to be, oh yeah, oh yeah.
And knowing that you would have wanted it this way,
I do believe I`m feelin` stronger every day.
I know we really tried, together we had a love inside, oh yeah, oh yeah.
So now the time has come for both of us to live on the run. oh yeah, oh yeah.
And knowing that you would have wanted it this way,
I do believe I`m feelin` stronger every day.

In fact, I think that Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts were perfect for each other. Jim Irsay and Bill Polian believed in Manning’s ability to take a moribund franchise and turn it to one of the best in the NFL .Manning was blessed by his competitive drive, his leadership, and his ability to connect with his teammates. He is arguably the greatest regular season QB in NFL history. And while his records may be broken one day, his ability to revitalize a city and restore a franchise may never be matched again.

Jim Irsay made a tough decision. He loved Peyton like a father loves a son, but the NFL is a business and Manning’s age, health, and salary cap number was too much for the Colts to burden. The Colts ineptitude in 2011 also gave them the first pick in this year’s draft. Most observers expect Irsay to select Andrew Luck, the QB from Stanford with the amazing football pedigree to be the one who replaces Manning. Was it the right decision? That cannot be answered right now. However, the Colts will tie their fortunes to the son of a former NFL player who excelled at the collegiate level (sound familiar?).

So, what about Peyton Manning? Fantasy owners should expect Manning to return to the field in 2012. He is feeling stronger everyday as witnessed by videos of him throwing under the watchful eye of Former Tennessee OC and current Duke football coach David Cutcliffe just a few days ago. Yes, Manning had had three (or four depending on some reports) surgeries in the past 19 months, but Manning is as determined as ever to get back under center to play this fall. Are there injury concerns? Absolutely. But there is no way that Manning will step onto the field if there are major risks involved. He has too much to lose and does not want to endanger his legacy. I truly believe that if he steps out onto the field he will be ready to perform at a high level.

Where will he end up? Well, this is something that will keep all so-called experts in business for the next few weeks.

Here’s what I believe:

  1. He will be better off in a warm climate (take Denver Broncos off the list)
  2. He will not want to be in the same city as his brother (take the New York Giants off the list)
  3. He needs a team that is ready to win now (take the Washington Redskins off the list)
  4. He needs a coach to give him the keys to the offense (take Miami Dolphins off the list)
  5. His neck would be better off avoiding damp, rainy climate (take the Seattle Seahawks off the list)
  6. He needs a solid offensive line
  7. He needs a team capable of winning within the next year or two

This leads me to believe that the ideal landing spot for Manning is…..Arizona. The weather is good, Ken Wisenhunt will let him run the offense, the OL is decent, and he can play indoors for half of the season.

Will Peyton Manning return to his HOF form in 2012? I have my doubts. But I have no doubt that Manning will be an effective QB once again if he can find himself the right team and situation, Manning was like the Colts offensive coordinator on the field. He ran plays in practice until he was happy, he changed calls at the line of scrimmage, and he shuttled players in and out of the lineup. Will any other NFL coach allow him this freedom? If Manning chooses wisely and finds a coach whose ego will allow Manning to run the offense, he should be able to put up top 10 Fantasy numbers in 2012.

By the way…one last thing struck me as I watched the Irsay/Manning press conference. Like it or not, you understood what both sides were thinking. Manning opened himself up to the world and allowed the fans to see how much this decision affected him. Maybe if Lebron James did that in Cleveland there would have been fewer hard feelings after his “decision.”

The 2011 FSWA Newcomer of the Year and Sunday morning host of ESPN’s @ RotoExperts Fantasy Football GameDay, Dr. Roto is a Fantasy Sports Writer & On Air Personality. A subject of a UPN newscast for guiding numerous Fantasy Sports participants to league titles, Dr. Roto has answered over 10,000 Fantasy MLB, NFL and NBA questions over the past two decades. You can also listen to Dr. Roto on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at 10am ET. You may email Dr. Roto directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DrRoto