View Full Version : ESPN Insider articles on Manning

12-08-2004, 02:57 PM
On ESPN there are 2 insider articles on Manning. Can someone post them please? :D

12-09-2004, 01:26 PM
Could someone post the two articles on Manning? I know that this is a Colts question, but it isn't being answered there. I know more Pacers people have insider, (so could you just leave this here Hicks until the articles are posted? Thanks)

They are found here:


on the front section. Thanks!

12-09-2004, 01:29 PM
When someone pasts them here, I'll move this thread to the Colts board.

12-09-2004, 01:35 PM
Trust Me on This

By Seth Wickersham
Comment on this article

What the hell is he doing?

He is hunched over and shouting and dipping his head between center and guard, then guard and tackle, to his left and his right, as if he were frantically trying to win an apple-bobbing contest. The situation is not dire. Indianapolis, trailing Jacksonville 16-14 at home on Oct. 24, has first down at midfield with 12:43 left. But the Colts' quarterback is treating this snap as if it were the game's last.

It started so normally. He walked to the line, stood behind the center and called out his signals. But then he saw something, something no one else saw. He went into an audible – as he does on nearly every play – and yelled, "30-14! 30-14!"

Now begins the chaos and panic: his wideouts relay the new call to each other and his linemen start to swivel, making sure that everyone is in concert. The play clock dwindles down to 5 seconds as the quarterback fusses and fiddles and fidgets. Fans grow tense and antsy, wanting him to just shut up and call for the snap.

No QB changes plays at the line of scrimmage like Peyton Manning.
And you wonder: Why can't he just call the play like every other QB? Why does he test our patience, nervously pacing along the line of scrimmage like a guy waiting in line for a Porta-Potty? Why, in short, does Peyton Manning have to be so annoying?

He knows how we feel. He hears fans yelling, "Just run the play!" He sees Pee Wee quarterbacks wearing No.18, waving and yelling and signaling and driving their coaches nuts. He can even see it online. After a recent Colts game, fans on the football message board IGN had this exchange:

Jr2280: "Manning is so annoying. He audibles on every play."

Oa517: "I agree. He lets the play clock go down to, like, :05, then he finally hikes it."

And this was after a game of Madden 2005.

None of this is new. Manning has been irritating people for years. Appreciation for his brilliance has been tempered by frustration with his habits. By virtue of his last name, greatness has always been expected of him, as if being the top prep, college and pro QB were his obligation. He's never especially connected with fans, annoying them by playing as if he were the latest chip from Intel instead of a fun-loving gunslinger. This is a player who threw 36 touchdown passes in his senior year at Tennessee, only to lose the Heisman to a cornerback, the more dynamic Charles Woodson. This is a guy who led the league with 4,267 yards and 29 touchdowns last season, but shared the MVP title with Steve McNair, whose tolerance for pain made him seem more heroic. Says Colts tight end Marcus Pollard, "There's always been a backlash against him."

Maybe because it's hard to love a know-it-all.

* * *

WHEN MANNING comes to the line against Jacksonville, he sees Jags corner Dewayne Washington giving wideout Reggie Wayne a 10-yard cushion. Meanwhile, nickelback Rashean Mathis lines up in bump-and-run coverage on slot receiver Brandon Stokley. Then Manning notices free safety Deon Grant in the middle of the field, and it clicks. Jacksonville is in a presnap two-invert coverage look, a formation Manning hasn't seen during the game but had watched on film that week. He knows that at the snap, the Jags will drop into a Cover 3, with Grant patrolling the deep middle-third of the field, Washington the deep left-third and Mathis, from his fake bump-and-run look, the flat. By saying "30-14," Manning orders Wayne and Stokley out of their short routes and into deep ones.

Then, after the snap, he drops back five steps, reading the Jags' defense like it's written for a 5-year-old.

* * *

THERE ARE seven spiral notebooks stacked in his locker, each protected by a white cover with a Colts blue horseshoe printed on it. Manning has labeled them all just like the one he's holding:

2004 PM-18; 6th year QB; Notebook # 8

On a sunny afternoon in late October, Manning flips this notebook open and reveals pages covered with scribbles that only he can decipher. Some of the notes are circled or starred. In five days Indy will face KC, and next to his stack of notebooks is a beta tape labeled "Colts-Chiefs 11-7-99." Says Manning: "It's the last time we played Gunther Cunningham."

Manning has always treated football as though it were an equation needing to be solved. As a sophomore at Isidore Newman High in New Orleans, he once threw four picks in a 7-6 loss to Buras High. He'd just finished his first season as a starter, and was already on recruiters' radar. After the game, Peyton asked his dad, Archie, how to study film. If you're going to do it, the former Saints QB said, do it right. Follow the defense, not the ball. So father and son started watching tape together, not only of high school games but NFL ones, too. That's when Peyton began to memorize opposing team's weaknesses and his own by writing them into a notebook labeled with his name and jersey number. In college, these notebooks became so legendary that they're now stored in Tennessee's archives.

After Manning's rookie year, a season in which he threw an NFL-high 28 interceptions, he went to offensive coordinator Tom Moore, notebook in hand, and asked for the power to audible. For some in his position, this would have been the nerviest of requests. But for Manning, it was simple problem solving. He'd successfully audibled a few times as a rookie, and he liked the freedom of switching out of a lousy play and into a good one. Moore, believing he had a once-in-lifetime player, gave Manning what he wanted, with a caveat: "Don't surprise me." The two put in extra hours together in the film room, analyzing defenses, making sure their reads were in sync. At first, Manning was too excited, becoming so hyper while calling audibles that teammates couldn't understand him, so they wondered the same thing as fans: what the hell is he doing? But after six years, he's effectively demoted Moore from a playcaller to a play-proposer.

On Tuesdays, an off-day for players, Moore gives Manning the game-plan binder with several pages of notes. That afternoon, Manning settles into he leather chair in his home film room. With a notebook on his lap and his black lab, Colt, at his feet, he culls through a month's worth of games. By Wednesday, when the rest of the team sees the game plan for the first time, Manning has 20 to 30 pages of notes. For the rest of the week until kickoff, he flips through his spiral and visualizes his blueprint for the game, turning 3 hours on the field into an exhibition of preparedness.

All 300 plays in the Colts' game plan each week can be audibled, verbally or by hand signal. Manning is so paranoid that, if he thinks the TV mikes have picked up one of his calls, he'll alter it on the sideline. Hand signals are tougher. Manning is tapped out of ways he can move, join, align and wave his hands. So he steals. At the Pro Bowl, he casually asks other QBs about their signals. Then, when no one is looking, he jots down new ones.

On the sideline during games, Manning sits at a table set up just for him. He buries his head in photos from the last series, a football always nearby for him to fondle. No one bothers him as he tweaks and modifies what he spent all week perfecting. Once he's ready, he'll signal tight end Dallas Clark, who rises from the bench to catch warmup passes. Clark is the only receiver Manning warms up with, and he has no idea why. "I think it's because I'm the youngest," the 25-year-old Clark says, shrugging.

Manning's teammates may agree when fans ask, "Why can't he just run the play?" They may tease him about his obsessive note-taking. But every player on the Colts is nearly in awe over how much football Manning processes, and how quickly he does it. Break down the material he works with, and you begin to understand why he usually takes all 35 seconds allotted. Moore sends Manning into the huddle with three or four options to choose from at the line. For example, Manning may call two runs, 43 Iso and 42 Power, as well as a passing package, such as the "check" package. The runs are basic. The passing packages, though, branch out once the Colts get set at the line of scrimmage. The "check" contains up to 10 plays for Manning to choose from, as though he's mentally clicking a start button and selecting from programs that pop up.

Each of those 10 "check" plays has its own variations and deviations, depending on whether the defense is in one of a dozen or more defensive looks. Then Manning begins his audibles and signals, a dervish of decision-making that even rival defenses have come to grudgingly admire. "If he's under center, we're ready," says Patriots defensive end Jervis Green. "He's a smart guy. You just have to be alert, regardless of what he's doing."

Should a defensive end move one gap over, or a corner shade just a bit toward the middle of the field – should any one of a hundred different things happen on the defensive side of the ballManning is once again barking and waving, annoying fans everywhere. Until the ball is snapped, anyway. Suddenly questions such as, "God, why does he do that?" become "God, how does he do that?"

The Jags don't know Manning has figured them out. Wayne runs a streak to keep Washington busy, while Stokley busts up the seam. Manning fades back and looks off Grant. Then, when his right foot plants, punctuating his drop, he fires Stokley's way. At that moment, does it matter that Manning took 35 seconds before the snap, or that fans yelled at him to hurry up and run the play? No. If Manning's pass is 6 inches to the left or 6 inches higher, Grant sends Stokley for an MRI. Six inches to the right, and the trailing Washington is heading the other way for six. But the pass is perfect, arriving in Stokley's hands for a 20-yard gain. Two plays later, Manning sees the Jags in the exact same look. But this time, a wary Grant shades over toward Stokley. Nice try. Manning audibles for Stokley to sell the seam route to get Grant backpedaling. But he breaks the route off inside, and Manning hits him for 13 yards. Manning and Stokley don't high-five or butt slap. They just point at each other, in a blasé way, signaling a job well done.

Maybe we have him wrong. Maybe Manning's geekiness, his know-it-all veneer, shouldn't cause eyes to roll. The greatness of Brett Favre and Tom Brady is that they float above pressure like smoke, unbothered and unfettered. Manning's gift is his willingness to be weighed down. He wants pressure. It's as if he knew, when he asked to audible after his rookie year, that boredom would accompany his rise. So he's made the game interesting by demanding more power than almost any quarterback has had in 30 years. The complexity of defenses and the different personnel packages on offense have made quarterbacks who call their own game virtually extinct. Jim Kelly did it with the Bills a decade ago, but when John Elway got the green light midway through his career, it lasted only half a season. Even Brady, after two Super Bowl MVP awards, is only now allowed to check off a few times a game.

Sometimes an exhausted Manning will board the team plane after a game and sigh, "Why can't I call a play in the huddle like everyone else?" He's joking, because he cherishes the power he has. He needs it. He's running a brand of football that's his alone. That's why his older brother, Cooper, says Peyton's audibles are "sacred." That's why Peyton and Eli don't talk football, in case their teams play down the road. That's why on Oct. 31, down by 10 to the Chiefs with 5:31 left and facing fourth and three from the Kansas City 6, Manning waved off the field goal unit as it ran onto the field, overruling Tony Dungy, and then audibled into a TD pass to Wayne. That is why Indy's offense, which leads the league in scoring, has become a reflection of Manning himself: detailed, complicated, awesome and, finally, peerless. That's why Manning refers to his audibles as his "identity."

And now he's reaching levels that no one thought possible (see Do the Math, right). He's thrown 35 more touchdown passes than picks, and in a five-game stretch from late October through late November, he threw for 24 scores. He's on pace to pass Dan Marino's 20-year NFL record of 48 TD passes by the Colts' 14th game. And if Manning can keep up his 126.3 rating, he'll beat Steve Young's single-season mark by nearly 14 points. Marino says that Manning, at 28, is quarterbacking better than "anyone who has ever played the position."

As Manning has become the game's best quarterback, the football geek has loosened up. He's trying to follow the advice he got from President Bush, after the two met in Indy last year: ignore critics and don't read everything written about you. Though teammates still laugh at him during film sessions as he drops his nerdy insider jokes ("Stokley thought that route was a 30-21!"), Manning has stopped viewing every snap as a chance to improve his footwork. He even mocks fans in a MasterCard commercial, leaning over a railing to high-five businessmen while yelling, "You're on my fantasy team!" And during the past couple of off-seasons he's joined his friend, country music star Kenny Chesney, on tour. Manning stands on stage during concerts, hidden by a cowboy hat while strumming an acoustic guitar he doesn't know how to play.

For years, Chesney has begged Manning to return the favor by letting him run routes with the pros at Colts minicamp. Manning always had excuses: minicamp is too important, he's running a complicated offense, he needs every second of practice with his receivers, it's not a place for fooling around. Recently, though, Manning finally relented. This off-season, the 5'8", 140-pound Chesney will run patterns with the pros.

Why the change? Because, by now, Manning knows exactly what the hell he's doing.

12-09-2004, 01:36 PM
Wednesday, December 8, 2004

By Randy Mueller
ESPN Insider

It's very easy to reel off the options Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has at his disposal. Soon-to-be free-agent WRs Marvin Harrison and Brandon Stokley, RB Edgerrin James, and TEs Dallas Clark and Marcus Pollard are all obvious reasons the Colts are on pace to break the single-season scoring record for an NFL team.

But the fact is that Manning is the straw that stirs the drink. We would not be having these water-cooler conversations if he wasn't the best at what he does. Maybe the best we've ever seen, at least for a single season. Let's break down the details behind what makes him tick as a player.

It all starts with his mastery of a complicated offense to the point of his decision-making being far superior to anyone else. The decisiveness of his pre- and post-snap reads gives you the feeling that he is two steps ahead of us, as fans, and the defenders as well.

His field vision and subtle eye and shoulder movement fool defenders and give them more false information than any undercover CIA operative. Execution of any one play is second nature and he's trying to set up the next play while running another. He's always sending a message with his body language in the huddle, at the line of scrimmage or after he takes the snap. It's a beauty to watch.

Manning's accuracy gives his receivers a chance to turn a short pass into a big gain.
We all know about his ball-handling skills and the pride he takes in carrying out his fakes on each play. He's looking for perfection even when he does not possess the ball. The key to his fakes, in my opinion, is that he presents the ball on every play.

A complete "ball" and "eye" fake can do wonders in taking advantage of the human element. Defenders just can't help themselves; they just have to "bite." It's that .5 of a second when they do that makes the difference in the size of the window that a quarterback has to deliver the ball.

His delivery itself is the main reason he's been sacked only seven times the whole year. He knows how and when to bail out of a bad play and live to run another one from a more manageable down and distance. Instead of taking an ill-advised sack that puts his team in a tough-to-convert, third-and-15 situation, Manning will get rid of the ball and move the chains on the next play.

But the biggest key in Manning's game is his accuracy. His receivers almost always catch the ball in stride, which allows them to avoid big hits and have a chance to run after the catch. I don't have figures to back it up, but I would say the Colts' receivers are way out if front when it comes to "yards after the catch" and it's mainly because of Manning's accuracy.

Receivers who must adjust to catch balls often have no chance to gather their body and run for yards once they secure the ball. Whether it's Stokley running down the slot or Harrison catching a crossing pattern, these guys add more yards than anybody else because they catch the ball in stride and are off to the races with little or no adjustments.

We, as football fans, need to enjoy what we are seeing out of Manning and this group this year. It doesn't come around very often.

12-09-2004, 02:00 PM
Thanks K

12-09-2004, 02:04 PM
Threads merged, moved here, articles posted. :D

Thanks Kstat for posting them.

12-09-2004, 03:06 PM
Same here.