Ok, so Warner/Manning has been written about, talked about, examined, dissected, folded, spindled, and mutilated quite a bit (ad nauseum?) this week. So much so that people are already writing their "Too much being made of the QB vs QB" columns and blogs.
But it's rare that you’ll see two such high-quality quarterbacks that are so darn equal in every statistical category, on the field together.
These two QB’s have almost mirrored careers in that they have mutual MVPs, both league and Super Bowl...mutual SB rings, mutual stats in everything from years in the league (12) to QB rating (Warner 93.8, Manning 94.3) to accuracy (both hover around 65%), to yardage (Warner 262.4, Manning 259.7), to lack of rushing acumen (Warner 1.4 YPC, Manning 1.8 YPC), and prolific receiving skills (both have 1 reception in 12 years).
But what's truly amazing are the two separate paths taken by these two All-Pros to get where they are today. While one took a freshly paved road to success in a Cadillac with La-Z-Boy-like seats, the other rode his brothers old Schwinn over a bumpy back-road to success.
It can be said that Peyton Manning is the pillar of fulfilled expectations. The golden boy quarterback, son of a Hall of Fame daddy/QB Archie, pro-style offense in college at Tennessee, top pick in the draft...he had "potential success" written all over him.
And while Peyton was a 22-year-old gunslinging youngin’, counting his soon-to-be-riches, Kurt Warner, as we all know, was 26 years old, married, had kids, and was bagging groceries for $5.50 an hour at the Piggly-Wiggly (or whatever).
One was the toast of the NFL rookie class, while the other scratching out a living while trying to raise a family, and yearning to cling on to almost any professional football team that would have him, just for a chance to prove himself.
Manning is the current face of quarterback consistency (sorry Brett). He has started every game for the same team for over a decade, racking up 176 straight starts (and counting) with the horseshoe on his helmet. Once he stepped on the field in 1998, he started 16 games a year, every year until now.
Warner was essentially a walk-on, lower on the NFL totem pole than an un-drafted rookie, when he showed up at the St Louis training camp in 1998. He started one game and completed four passes his rookie year.
Manning has started way more games, has way more total yards (46,232 to 29,836) and touchdowns (336 to 185), but Warner has as many rings (one each), and three Super Bowl appearances to Manning's one.
These are decidedly different paths to the Hall of Fame, but it's a path that each took to become what they are today.
So while there will be running plays, defensive gems, special teams feats, and all sorts of comings and goings Sunday night in Glendale, take a few minutes and appreciate what you’re witnessing.
You’ll have two of the NFL’s All Time Best going head to head. It doesn’t happen that often, and will likely happen less down the road. So ENJOY it while you can!
Boo-Boos and Owie’s as of Sept. 26
Dwight Freeney- DE, Back, Full Participation in Practice Questionable
Clint Session- LB, Ankle, Full Participation in Practice Questionable
Marlin Jackson- CB, Not Injury Related, Did Not Participate In Practice
Joseph Addai- RB, Not Injury Related, Did Not Participate In Practice
Anthony Gonzalez WR, Knee, Did Not Participate In Practice Out
Bob Sanders S, Knee, Did Not Participate In Practice Out
Gary Bracket LB, Knee, Did Not Travel With Team Out
Kelvin Hayden CB, Hamstring, Did Not Travel With Team Out
Brian St. Pierre QB, Back, Full Participation in Practice - Probable
Kurt Warner QB, right Shoulder, Full Participation in Practice - Probable
Reggie Wells G, Thumb, Full Participation in Practice - Probable
Kenny Iwebema DE, Ankle, Did Not Participate In Practice - Out
Steve Breaston WR, Knee, Limited Participation in Practice Questionable
Levi Brown T, Ankle, Limited Participation in Practice - Questionable
Ali Highsmith LB, Hamstring, Limited Participation in Practice - Questionable
Rashad Johnson S, Ankle, Limited Participation in Practice - Questionable
Chike Okeafor LB, Shoulder, Limited Participation in Practice - Questionable
Matt Ware S, Shoulder, Limited Participation in Practice - Questionable
Anquan Boldin WR, Hamstring, Full Participation in Practice - Probable
Will Davis LB, Knee, Full Participation in Practice - Probable
Early Doucet WR, Ribs, Full Participation in Practice - Probable
Bryant McFadden CB, Groin, Full Participation in Practice - Probable
Sean Morey WR, Ribs, Full Participation in Practice - Probable
Antrel Rolle S, Quadricep, Full Participation in Practice - Probable
The Brady Hunch
The Cardinals have an ever growing injury list. But the Colts will have four starters on defense that likely won’t play, including All-Everything safety Bob Sanders and All-Pro DE Dwight Freeney.
It will be hard enough for the Colts to maintain their lofty No. 3 ranking against the pass (139 YPG) against a team with the firepower of the Cardinals. It will be all that much harder if Freeney isn’t in to put pressure on Warner.
The Cardinals pass defense, meanwhile, is near the middle of the pack (18th), having given up an average 231 yards per game.
But don’t let those numbers fool you. First, Indy has played the Jaguars and the Dolphins. Jacksonville has an average at best QB throwing to an aging WR Torry Holt and a bunch of nobodies. Second, Miami ran for 239 yards, and therefore had no reason to even try to pass the ball.
The Cardinals will have to adhere to their defense, make sure tackles, stay disciplined, and stay in their lanes. If they do that, it could get ugly for Indy.
There’s no reason for me to think that the Cardinals offense won’t have some success here. The Colts allowed two sub-par teams to keep it very close, and I don’t know that they’ll match that success against the Big Red.
With Sanders out, and Freeney (potentially) out, Indianapolis is missing their two best defensive players in critical positions. Fitz and Boldin will be more apt to take advantage of openings in the middle of the field without Sanders looming presence.
I expect to see the Cards try and get a running game going, and having at least moderate success. They will, as they did the first two games, rely on short passes to open up the run as well as mid and long range passes.
But Manning being Manning, he WILL keep it close. This is a veteran team, but a team unfamiliar with the rash of changes they’ve gone through. Still, Manning is as good as it gets in getting as much out of his teammates as possible.
Marvin Harrison is gone. Anthony Gonzalez is out. It won’t be the same, but it won’t be a mess with Archie’s boy out there, either.
Offensively, I'm ok with establishing the run and think they can against a depleted Colts defense. But as with most Cardinals games, this will likely come down to the play of Warner in the end. Breaston being out would hurt, and mean that WRs Jerheme Urban and Sean Morey will need to step up.
It’s a home game with what should be a playoff atmosphere. All signs point to a solid Cardinals win. While I DO believe they will win, I think it will come down to the very end. Last possession may get the victory. That said...
The Brady Hunch