By Brock Huard
In the coming days or weeks your run in Indy will likely come to an end. Your incredible investment to that organization and the success you brought to the “Horseshoe” and city won’t soon be forgotten. Yet, the Colts will draft Andrew Luck and you’ll be left to weigh your options. Knowing how maniacal and task-oriented you are, I am sure you and agent Tom Condon have already begun the preparations and the process of game planning the next stop.
Let me help.
It wasn’t all that long ago that as a backup I would watch film and break down opponents, too, and on occasion you would even ask for a little input. So in case you are interested, here’s my two cents on just what might be the best fit for your game, your intensity level and your will to win another championship.
Peyton Manning should know what it’s like to play in front of the 12th Man, having played at Qwest Field in 2005.
I know you had to be proud of little brother Eli, and yet as competitive as you are I am sure you went to bed wondering how you’re going to get back on that stage and hoist another Lombardi Trophy. Ultimately, that has to be goal No. 1, and since you will turn 36 next month, the time is now. So, let’s take a look at the 31 other teams and find you the best home.
Clearly, you are not headed back to Indy and there will be another 13 teams off the list because of established younger quarterbacks in place with contract and/or draft pick situations that would make bringing you in unrealistic. Those 13 are: the Giants, Eagles, Packers, Lions, Falcons, Rams, Patriots, Steelers, Chargers, Raiders, Texans, Panthers and Saints as soon as the ink dries on Brees’ new deal.
Further, since winning — and winning now — is the ultimate goal, it is my opinion that avoiding massive rebuilding projects with new coaches must be accounted for and thus eliminates Jacksonville and Tampa Bay from the equation.
Brutal weather conditions and brutal divisional play clearly eliminates Buffalo, Cincinnati and Cleveland.
All of a sudden, 31 teams has turned into 13 worth taking a closer look at.
Realistically, Peyton, knowing the way you limit distractions (remember telling Polian the team will not be staying at the same hotel as families during the Super Bowl?) and like order and a sense of control, the Jets with Rex, the Cowboys with Jerry Jones and Romo, San Francisco with the guy you replaced in Indy, Denver with Tebow and an aging Bears team with the floppy-haired Cutler make little sense. Further, the Ravens are really Ray Lewis’ team and more than likely will commit to Flacco.
That leaves us just seven: Washington, Minnesota, Miami, Kansas City, Tennessee, Seattle and Arizona.
Miami is fond of Matt Flynn and the addition of Mike Sherman as offensive coordinator means a return to old-school West Coast system philosophy. Minnesota is on the downside of their winning cycle with age and injuries, and they may play in the toughest division in football.
As I see it, we are down to five, and with assets committed to Matt Cassel in Kansas City, Kevin Kolb in Arizona and Jake Locker in Tennessee, those situations are at least entangled. That leaves just Seattle and Washington.
So here’s the deal — I think Seattle may just be the best fit of all and when you weigh the final grouping, simply consider this:
1. After your Irsay experience, ownership matters. Paul Allen is the best in the business. He won’t meddle, he has unlimited resources and wants to win a championship in the worst way.
2. Seattle is the most removed geographical outpost in the league. The perception is that you need the masses and crave attention; the reality is that you want to win and winning will bring the only attention at this stage of your career that you really desire.
3. Pete Carroll is as committed to football as you are, and he is willing to cut anyone not as demanding and dedicated to that task.
4. You loved the dome in Indy because of the home field advantage. The 12th Man is in the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor for a reason, and I challenge anyone to find an equal in the league when it comes to the advantage gained at CenturyLink. Heck, even bad Seahawks teams still won in this venue.
5. Seattle plays in a very winnable division and will face a third-place schedule in 2012.
6. Pete is in Year 3 of his building process and five Pro Bowlers are an indicator of improved talent. The team has drafted well, turns over every stone in its effort to improve the roster and you can win big with Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Marshawn Lynch and an offensive line that made major improvement in 2011.
7. Lastly, put in a call to Brett Favre. Ask him what working with Darrell Bevell was like in Minnesota. In fact, this set-up is eerily similar to the one you thrived in with the Colts, where Tom Cable acts in much the same capacity as Howard Mudd did for you in installing the run game and pass protections while Bevell, like Tom Moore, puts in the passing packages.
So there you have it, Peyton, there should be plenty of suitors and if you decide to take Mr. Allen up on his offer of a seaplane trip into Seattle you will find the finest football complex in the league and a head coach as driven as you are to win a world championship. Wishing you a speedy recovery, and I promise not to bother you as much as I did back in the day.