Peyton Manning Rumors: Why the QB Should Pick the New York Jets If Released

Sam Quinn@@Samquinn23Contributor IIIMarch 7, 2012

Peyton Manning Rumors: Why the QB Should Pick the New York Jets If Released

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    After months of speculation, it looks like it will finally happen.

    ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that the Indianapolis Colts are going to release Peyton Manning,

    Almost every team in the NFL could benefit from the presence of Manning, but realistically, his choice will come down to a few choice destinations.

    The New York Jets may be one of those teams. Here are seven reasons why Manning should pick the Jets.

The Market

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    Before getting to the football reasons why New York is a good fit for Manning, we have to discuss why it works off of the field.

    Manning is one the league's most marketable stars. He's been in dozens of commercials and has even hosted Saturday Night Live. If he cares about making money through endorsements, there is no better market for him than New York. A few years in New York could help set him up for a career after football if that's what Manning wants. 

    Manning also has to decide where he wants to live. Other than Miami, where do you think he would rather live than New York? The city is an incredible place to live, and he could spend time during the season with his brother Eli.

    Be honest: You'd rather live in New York than Kansas City or Washington, D.C., wouldn't you?

    Finally, there's a legacy element to this. If Manning could win a championship with the Jets, he'd be succeeding where guys like Brett Favre and Bill Parcells have failed. It would be their first title since 1969, and bringing half of New York their first ring in more than 40 years would secure Manning's legacy forever.

    If you win a championship in Arizona or Miami, people remember you for a decade. If you win one for New York, you're remembered forever—just ask Joe Namath. 

The Offensive Line

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    Despite Wayne Hunter's best efforts, the Jets have one of the league's better offensive lines. Nick Mangold and D'brickashaw Ferguson are among the best linemen in the league, and Brandon Moore made the Pro Bowl last year. 

    Matt Slauson may not be a star, but he's a viable starter. Pro Football Focus' premium statistics have him ranked 40th out of 77 eligible guards. The only really weak link is Wayne Hunter, and he may be replaced going into next year.

    Coming off a very serious neck injury, it is vital for Peyton Manning to choose a team that can protect him.

    On paper, the idea of Manning throwing to Larry Fitzgerald sounds great, but can Arizona's offensive line protect him? It's doubtful, just as it is with Kansas City, Washington and Seattle. Very few teams have offensive lines that Manning can really have faith in, and the Jets are one of them. 

The Skill Position Players

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    The Jets may not have a super elite receiver like Larry Fitzgerald or Brandon Marshall, but they do have a nice group of skill position players who will likely only improve during the offseason. 

    Santonio Holmes is a legitimate No. 1 receiver, but he has been severely limited by Mark Sanchez. No quarterback-receiver duo posted a lower passer rating than those two in 2011.

    When Holmes had an elite quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, he put up 79 catches for more than 1,200 yards. With Manning, he should be able to do the same.

    Dustin Keller is one of the more skilled tight ends in the league, but like Holmes, he has been limited by Sanchez. Keller has only played for four years, so we haven't seen what he can do in his prime with a star quarterback. His style is very similar to Dallas Clark in that they are really receivers in the bodies of tight ends. Keller can stretch the field and has the hands to be a valuable underneath target.

    The running game dropped off a bit last year, as LaDainian Tomlinson's age was apparent, but no Rex Ryan team will ever ignore the rush. Shonn Greene will get his yards, Joe McKnight has shown the potential to be a useful third-down back and the Jets may look to add another back to their stable. No matter who they have in the backfield, Ryan and Tony Sparano will make sure the Jets can run the ball. 

    It has also been predicted that the Jets will target another receiver during the offseason. They could potentially look at guys such as Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright in the draft, but the more likely scenario is that they look for a veteran in free agency.

    One name that has been discussed is former Jet Braylon Edwards.

    The former third overall pick has played with the following quarterbacks: Charlie Frye, Derrick Anderson, Brady Quinn, Mark Sanchez and Alex Smith. Despite this handicap, Edwards has put up several very nice seasons. Imagine the possibilities of an athlete like Edwards getting paired up with Manning.

    Whether it's Edwards, another veteran or an early draft pick, the Jets will add another pass-catcher. Combine the receiver to be named later with Holmes and Keller, and the Jets have a solid group of targets to present to Manning.

    Can teams like Washington, Seattle and San Francisco say the same?

The Coaching Staff

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    In his short tenure as head coach of the Jets, Rex Ryan has proven he is at least an above-average head coach. None of his teams have fallen below .500, and the Jets have reached the AFC Championship Game in two of his three years. 

    Ryan is also commonly mentioned as a coach players want to play for. The confidence he has in his players and the freedom he grants them to speak with the media has given Ryan a reputation as one of the league's premier players' coaches.

    Unlike most players' coaches though, Ryan does not allow his guys to walk all over him. He has managed to find the right balance between being liked and being respected, and he has used that to produce some very good teams in New York. 

    Another coaching plus for the Jets: Peyton Manning's long-time offensive coordinator, Tom Moore, is currently on Ryan's staff. While Tony Sparano is their offensive coordinator, Moore's presence will help Manning pick up some of the nuances of the offense. 

    Miami has a first-time coach, so does Manning really want to bet the last few years of his career on Joe Philbin? 

    Romeo Crennel has already proven he's not a good coach, as has Pete Carroll, so it seems unlikely that Manning would want to hitch his wagon to either the Chiefs or the Seahawks. 

    You can argue about Ryan's antics all you want, but the results speak for themselves: He can flat-out coach. 

The Defense

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    Despite what was seemingly a down year, the 2011 Jets had the league's fifth-ranked defense. Led by Darrelle Revis and David Harris, the Jets have one of the better defenses in the league year-in and year-out. 

    The Jets defense is primed to get even better in 2012. Young players such as Muhammad Wilkerson, Aaron Maybin and Kyle Wilson spent last year getting the reps they need to succeed, and all should be even better in 2012. In addition, the biggest weakness in their defense—the safeties—will almost definitely be an upgrade this season. 

    At this point in his career, I doubt Peyton Manning wants to get into shootouts every week. A defense that can both ensure that he'll never have to score 40 points and keep him in games when he isn't feeling it has to be a very valuable commodity to a veteran like Manning. 

    Arizona's defense leaves a lot to be desired, and while Miami's group was league average last year, they'll have a transitional period switching to the 4-3. Other than the 49ers, the Jets are almost undoubtedly the best defensive team in the Manning sweepstakes

Manning's Competitive Nature

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    Peyton Manning is known as one of the most competitive players in the league. While there aren't team stats for competitiveness, the Jets are clearly a fit in this regard.

    Manning has said he prefers to stay with the Colts. It's human nature for a competitor like him to want to prove to his former team that they made a mistake in letting him go.

    Luckily for the Jets, Indianapolis is on their 2012 schedule.

    Manning also likely wants a few more shots at New England and Tom Brady. Manning and Brady have been compared for years, and whether or not he admits it, beating Brady probably means something to him.

    The Jets, as a member of the AFC East, get to play New England twice every year. They've also played the Patriots in the playoffs twice in the past six years. It's hard to believe a competitor like Manning would turn down the chance to play against Brady twice a year.

    The two things described above are things other teams can replicate. Miami, for example, also plays both Indianapolis and New England next year. Manning could go almost anywhere and play against one of them, but the Jets have something no other team can offer: The chance to steal New York from his little brother.

    Last month, Peyton had to watch his brother Eli beat his nemesis for a title in the stadium he built. While he was obviously happy as a brother, Peyton had to cringe at least a little bit when he heard talking heads make ridiculous claims that he had officially been relegated to the status of No. 2 Manning.

    While Eli hasn't always been this popular, he is currently New York's favorite athlete this side of Jeremy Lin. He has secured his place in the pantheon of New York sports.

    If Peyton wants to secure his dominance of the Manning family, stealing the city from Eli would be the best way to do it. He'd never admit it, but he can't enjoy the fact that Eli is being called the best Manning. Peyton doesn't want to be the second-best anything, much less in his family.

    He and Eli may show it as playful competition, but there's no way Peyton doesn't see the long-term benefits of playing in the same city as his little brother. No other team in the league can offer that. 

The Results

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    Of all the teams in the Manning sweepstakes, none has achieved the sustained success the Jets have.

    The Chiefs and 49ers have finished above .500 once in the past three years, while Miami and Washington haven't done it once. Only the Jets have done it multiple times; they have gone 27-17 during the Ryan era and have made the AFC Championship Game twice.

    Though they went 8-8 last year, statistically-speaking the Jets probably should have at least won another game or two.

    One of the biggest reasons for their down year was lost fumbles. The Jets lost 16 fumbles in 2011, good for second in the league. Typically fumbles regress to the mean, so the odds of that happening again are slim.

    And remember: Half of those fumbles were lost by Mark Sanchez. Since Sanchez would be gone if Manning is under center, those fumbles would disappear if he decided to join the Jets.

    Manning is at the point in his career where he'll likely only play a few more seasons. Where he plays those seasons will play a large part in how he is remembered as a quarterback for decades. He isn't going to want to play for a team he isn't sure can compete right away. Of the teams that will chase Manning, only the Jets can say they have competed and done so consistently over the past few years.