Introduction to The New Colts Round-Table: What Peyton Manning Does at The Line

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIIFebruary 27, 2009

It's about time that a new Indianapolis Colts roundtable has been formed.

This time, it consists of only the combination of me and an upstart Colts blue-chipper.

I recently recruited Eric, because I found his contributions to various Colts articles to be of the utmost quality. He has great potential and I foresee a bright future for him here on bleacher report.

Now on to the topic at hand: for our first group effort, Eric and I have analyzed exactly what it is that Peyton Manning does at the line of scrimmage.

I feel that Eric shined some great light on this situation by contributing the following …

There is a common misconception that Peyton Manning calls his own plays.


The fact of the matter is that Manning chooses from a selection of three plays given to him on a given down by Tom Moore: one pass and two run plays.


He, of course has the option to audible to another play if he feels it is necessary, but he is not calling plays in the sense of what an offensive coordinator does.


That would be virtually impossible and would not lead to success on the field.


While this more accurate description of what Manning does may seen unimpressive to some, it is none the less a huge advantage for the Colts offense and something that other quarterbacks around the league do not do with any real consistency.


Every team would if they could, but Manning stands alone as the QB who is given such trust by his coaching staff.


So, why is it such an advantage for the Colts offense?


Offensive coordinators are only allowed to relay messages into the quarterback's headset until a certain point before the down clock winds down.


This means the offensive coordinator has to choose a play without seeing the specifics of what the defense is doing.


He doesn't get to see which players are lining up where, and he has no idea if and from where a blitz may be coming. He doesn't get to see if the defense is loading up against the run or playing back to defend the deep pass, however, the quarterback does.


Peyton Manning takes all of that into consideration before selecting the play he feels has the best chance for success given what the defense has presented him.


Certainly, Manning's quick release helps his offensive line yield so few sacks year after year and certainly the simple fear of Manning helps his running backs are productive year after year, but Manning's ability to make calls based on what he sees before the snap with his pre-snap reads is certainly invaluable in both regards.


It's no wonder that along with Edgerrin James and Joseph Addai, even undrafted free agents and ex-CFL players like Dominic Rhodes, James Mungro and Kenton Keith have had 100-yard rushing games as Colts.


It's also, no wonder that Peyton Manning has remained among the least sacked quarterbacks in the league in the past two seasons despite playing at times with as many as three and four starting offensive linemen out injured or both starting offensive tackles and one or both of their primary backups out injured.


This is the reason opposing coaches have at times gone through such great lengths to disguise their defenses in the playoffs against Manning in an attempt to confuse him: they know just what kind of advantage it is for the Colts offense.


Here is my personal take on the situation …


What Manning does at the line of scrimmage is nothing short of revolutionary. He's essentially, the offensive coordinator and the quarterback all wrapped up into one complete package.


Although, it is Tom Moore who sends in the three plays for Manning to choose from, he’s is the one who has the final say in the matter. Tom Moore is more serving the role of a messenger where Peyton is more of the maestro.


Peyton's knowledge of the playbook is unsurpassed. He does more for the Colts' offense than any other quarterback does for their teams.


Not only does he have to go out there and execute the plays in physical fashion, he's also responsible for what the plays are and how his teammates are to execute their roles.


Often when you see Peyton making those odd adjustments, he's cluing his teammates in on what they are doing exactly. He often has the responsibility of reminding his teammates what to do if they forget and less face it, who could blame them?


A large deal of credit is also in order for Peyton's teammates who manage to decipher his signals as well.


It can not be easy to play the same way other players at their positions do but to also have to be fluent in Peyton's language in order to contribute to this sophisticated offense.


Meanwhile, Peyton has the ability to call fake plays.


The adjustments we see him making are sometimes done just for show in order to throw the defense off guard.


This of course is an advantage he gains from running this complex style of offense in the first place. Defense actually can buy the fact that when he's moving around like he does, he might be doing something.


Peyton's goal is not always to get the Colts to execute a perfect play; he also manages to work them out of bad ones.


Differently than an audible, Peyton can revert to other plays at the line of scrimmage by communicating complex signals to his own teammates to adjust the play.


The one thing you rarely see is a wristband containing plays on Peyton's wrist. For Peyton, the playbook is in his head. He certainly displays that on the field day in and day out.


In conclusion, I often feel that Peyton does not get enough credit for the things he does at the line of scrimmage.


In a way, perhaps, that lack of comprehension is due to the fact that his exploits are so revolutionary that it becomes difficult for many people to understand what it is he is doing.


Instead, many view what Peyton does at the line to be nothing more than a circus act.


In reality it is from it.


Peyton's revolutionary work at the line of scrimmage has paid off in a major way.


He's become the most productive quarterback in NFL history.


I'd like to thank Eric personally for all of his contributions to his article as he covered everything in better detail than I ever could have.


I look forward to working with him on more Colts articles in the future. Hope all of you will be there to read them as well.


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