Possibly the biggest name in NFL free agency is former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. On Wednesday afternoon, the Colts released Manning, placing the pressure on him and teams like the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals.
In the coming days, Manning and his representation will be approached by plenty of representatives from NFL teams as he decides the next city that will host his talents. For Manning, Florham Park is one of the locations where he could land, if he were to choose the Jets, and it would be a great decision as they look to finish what they started in 2009 and 2010.
During the 2011-12 season, something the Jets locker room deeply lacked was leadership from the coaching staff and the players. This was made public during the final game of the season when wide receiver Santonio Holmes got into an argument with right tackle Wayne Hunter in the final minutes of their Week 17 loss.
Let’s be honest, after the way he acted in that game, Santonio Holmes is not fit to be captain of the New York Jets, nor is young quarterback Mark Sanchez who has not shown much improvement since his rookie season.
By bringing in Peyton Manning, the Jets will be able to have a “true” leader at the quarterback position and someone they will be honored to call their captain. Manning is the kind of person and player that can take control of a team, put them on his back and lead the way. The kind of leadership the Jets needed to push through during the home stretch in 2011.
Now, imagine the talent the New York Jets will have on the offensive side of the ball with Peyton.
Their offensive line, with a tweak at right tackle and a little more depth, will be back to being one of the best in the league, like it was in 2010.
Even though he may have caused a rift in the locker room to end the season, you cannot deny that Santonio Holmes has skill when it comes to catching a football. With Holmes leading the receivers for a third year in a row, while throwing the great receiving tight end Dustin Keller into the mix, it’s certain that Manning will have targets to throw to.
Lastly, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight at running back are an explosive, elusive, forceful trio that make up New York’s “ground and pound offense.”
Now I am sure some of you are saying, “The Jets only have Holmes, Patrick Turner and Jeremy Kerley as starting receivers right now.” You would not be wrong to say that.
That comment would probably follow with a sentence on how Turner and Kerley are more of backup receivers and the Jets need another guy like Holmes or two former receivers like Plaxico Burress or Braylon Edwards.
Keep in mind that with a future Hall of Famer like Manning, he elevates everybody’s play.
Think back to a few years ago when the Colts had Reggie Wayne leading the way as young guys like Austin Collie and Pierre Garçon came onto the scene. I am pretty sure not many people would have expected them to be the receivers they are, and they probably would not have been without Manning’s help.
Now, put that all together: Peyton Manning, quality offensive line, good receivers, great running game. That should equal success. No?
With Manning playing quarterback and Tony Sparano at offensive coordinator, the Jets offense would look very different and would actually give Jets fans a challenge during games when they try to guess the play they are about to run (unlike the days of Schottenheimer).
By having Manning and the other pieces that make for a complete offense, opposing teams will have to try to defend everything and anything. Unless it is something like a 3rd-and-15 situation, the Jets would practically be able to do anything they want on offense.
They can spread out the defense and let Peyton be Peyton or they could spread the defense out and run it up the gut, exposing the defense trying to play the pass because they are worried Peyton will throw a touchdown pass.
Speaking of Sparano, if this deal were to go through, the critics are going to start attacking his system and how Peyton’s style of play does not fit. Sure, Peyton is not the kind of quarterback made for Sparano’s system, but adjustments can be made and with an opportunity like this, who would not make the necessary adjustments so this future Hall of Famer could be comfortable and successful?
If the Jets were to get Peyton, they would not just be an offensive powerhouse of a team. Rex Ryan loves defense the most, which means that side of the ball is usually his priority. The Jets defense is not expecting a drop off between the 2011 and 2012 season, which only means good news.
Lastly, the Jets are a team that wants a Super Bowl just as bad as any other team.
“Gang Green” has not been able to hoist the Lombardi trophy since January of 1969 when they defeated the Baltimore Colts 16-7. With the team they have, the Jets window to win their second Super Bowl in franchise history is closing, and closing fast. This year may also be Peyton’s last season and there is no better way than to go out on top, as a champion.
So, put it all together and what do you get? Peyton Manning would make the Jets Super Bowl contenders.
It should be a win-win situation for all parties if all goes right. Looks like MetLife Stadium may the best home for Manning.