I’ll come out and say it … Peyton Manning should retire.
A lot of people seem to be tiptoeing around this while talking about his disastrous first-round performance against the Colts. I think the torn quadriceps injury is indicative of the fact that he can’t physically handle the rigors of playing quarterback in the league. He’s 38 years old and he’s played a lot of games.
Here’s some things he can do when his playing days are over:
- Be a full-time pitchman. Imagine how many more commercials Papa John’s, Buick and Nationwide could squeeze if they had all fall and winter too.
- Make a billion dollars as a quarterback guru. You see these quarterback whisperers pop up all over the place — none of them are Peyton Manning.
A scenario to consider: the Patriots win the Super Bowl and Tom Brady and Peyton Brady retire in the same off-season. After another disappointing year, Drew Brees retires the next off-season.
The NFL front office might poop a brick if this actually happens.
I did a ranking of the league’s dependable quarterbacks. Here’s how that list would look (in order of dependability) with those three guys off of it:
- Aaron Rodgers
- Andrew Luck
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Matt Ryan
- Russell Wilson
- Joe Flacco (I put him up here on the strength of another good playoff showing)
- Eli Manning (I’ll move up Manning too, although the last two years have been a disaster)
And for good measure the 50 percent of the time dependable quarterbacks:
- Cam Newton (he’s the closest)
- Matthew Stafford
- Andy Dalton
- Alex Smith
- Jay Cutler
- Ryan Tannehill
- Colin Kaepernick (but I think he might be bad)
- Teddy Bridgewater (somewhat shaky)
- Carson Palmer (if he ever plays again)
With both lists, and there are big question marks on that second list, that’s 16 quarterbacks. If you’re keeping track, the NFL has 32 teams. Anyway, the reason I think it’s good if Brady, Peyton and Brees all retire, all in tier one by the way, is because it will lower the bar of NFL quarterbacking.
Right now, every young guy gets judged against Brady and Manning and I don’t know why that’s fair. Think about it, what does everybody say about quarterbacks — you’ve got to study film until your eyes bleed, you’ve got to stay after practice and work the receivers and you’ve got to be the first one in the building and the last to leave. Brady and Manning are exceptionally good at reading defenses and making adjustments — like on a supernatural level. People think that if you’re smart and you work hard you can just do that and that’s not really true as Kurt Warner pointed out yesterday on Mike&Mike.
Let’s take Cam Newton for example. I think the perception of Cam changes if the bar gets lowered a little. People will see the things he can do — throw deep, pick up first downs with his legs and be durable — more than the things he can’t — run a 4-wide offense like Peyton Manning.
I think part of the reason people might convince Manning to stick around is his 2013 performance: 68 percent completions, 5,477 yards, 55 touchdowns, only 10 interceptions and 8.3 yards per pass. But I think we should take into account: Peyton was playing with by far the best set of skill position players he’s ever had and the scheme, with lots of short throws, helped compensate for a loss of arm strength.
It’s a good thing one of the purveyors of that scheme, head coach John Fox, is still around … Hold on … Wait, you’re telling me the Broncos fired John Fox?
Seriously, the Broncos are out of their collective horse minds if they think they can find a better coach than John Fox.
Here’s the active coaches who have coached in a Super Bowl:
- Bill Bilechick (3-2)
- Tom Coughlin (win, win)
- Mike Tomlin (win, loss)
- John Harbaugh (win)
- Pete Carroll (win)
- Mike McCarthy (win)
- Sean Payton (win)
- Jeff Fisher (loss)
- Jim Caldwell (loss)
- Andy Reid (loss)
- Lovie Smith (loss)
So John Fox is one of four active coaches, because he’s already got a job with the Bears, who’s coached two Super Bowls. All the rest of those guys are happily married with their current teams. Jim Harbaugh (loss) would have been an interesting candidate but he’s stuck with the Michigan job for now.
Now there are some other guys floating around. I think I’ll break them down one-by-one.
- Won two Super Bowls
- Best team: 1998 Broncos, 14-2 and Super Bowl champs
- Improbable playoff run: 2000 Broncos at the helm of Brian Griese
- Playoff run that should haunt him: 1996 Broncos that lost to the expansion Jaguars
- Playoff record with John Elway: 7-1
- Playoff record with anyone else: 1-5
- Ruined RG3’s career
This would be beyond crazy, so let’s move on.
- Won a Super Bowl with 2005 Steelers
- Lost Super Bowl to great Cowboys team with 1994 Steelers
- 149-90 regular season record in 15 seasons all with Steelers
- 12-9 postseason record
- Won division eight times
- Best team: 2005 Steelers, 11-5, won super bowl
- Improbable playoff run: 2002 Steelers with Tommy Maddox at the helm
- Playoff run that should haunt him: 2001 Steelers, lost to Patriots in AFC title game (if there was a year to beat the Patriots it would have been that one)
If Cowher is seriously considered, people need to realize that he has not coached for nine years. That’s a long time.
- Won a Super Bowl
- Best Team: 2002 Buccaneers, 12-4 and won the Super Bowl
- Took over that team after it was built by Tony Dungy
- Record since then is 45-51
- Made the playoffs five times
- Had a sub .500 record three times
- Improbable playoff run: 2005 Buccaneers who somehow went 11-5 with Brian Griese and Chris Sims
- Playoff run that should haunt him: 2001 Raiders, tuck-rule game that Ray Lewis was yelling about earlier this week
- Has gradually been becoming a real life cartoon on ESPN since 2009
Do we think players could take him seriously now? This would be like John Madden trying to coach in the 80s.
- Won Super Bowl
- First black coach in NFL history
- Built Bucs into a Super Bowl caliber team, although the Bucs’ record did get worse the final three years he coached them
- Regular season record: 139-69
- Made playoffs 11 times
- Playoff record: 9-10
- Improbably playoff run: 1999 Bucs lead by Shaun King, lost to the Rams in part because of a controversial call
- Playoff run that should haunt him: 2008 Colts, Brady was hurt this year and the Patriots missed the playoffs
Dungy is who my Broncos fan coworker wants. He should know that Dungy has a lot of examples of playoff runs that should haunt him: the Bucs were championship caliber for three seasons and lost to the Eagles in the divisional round two years in a row. The 2005 Colts were 14-2 and were the more talented team than the Steelers that year who in fairness did win a crazy game.
Let’s compare that to Fox
- Lost two Super Bowls
- Took over 1-15 Panthers team and they went to the Super Bowl just two years later
- Regular season record: 119-89
- Playoff record: 8-7
- Record with the Broncos: 46-18
- Made the playoffs seven times
- Has four sub .500 seasons including a 2-14 year that got him fired in Carolina
- Best team: 2013 Broncos, 13-3 and lost Super Bowl
- Improbable playoff run: 2011 Broncos, the Tim Tebow team
- Playoff run that should haunt him: 2008 Panthers who lost to the Cardinals at home but Jake Delhomme did have six turnovers in that game
- That same Jake Delhomme was the Panthers quarterback when they made the Super Bowl in 2003
I think the Tim Tebow year gives Fox the edge over Dungy in my opinion. Fox was willing to completely change his offense and philosophy to fit Tim Tebow’s skills.
Even if Peyton comes back and Broncos get Dungy, I think letting Fox go will come back to haunt them.