Peyton Manning: His Injury's Effect on Colts Compared to Tom Brady with the Pats
Peyton Manning will be out two to three months with his second neck surgery of the offseason. There are reports that his back has been acting up, an injury that relates to the spinal column, which is a terrible sign.
Manning's career could quite possibly be over, seeing how neck injuries are widely considered the most dangerous in any sport. With that said, Manning's neck surgery wasn't the worst kind that could have taken place.
Tom Brady blew out his knee in the first quarter against the Chiefs in the 2008 season, leaving Bill Belichick and his coaching staff to pick up the pieces on the fly. There is no "Big Bang Theory" that applies to Peyton Manning's neck but rather a career of taking hits and hitting artificial turf.
Before getting to all the differences, there is one strong similarity: There is little preparation time for each of their replacements. Matt Cassel had the advantage over Kerry Collins of getting second team reps for the entire offseason, which Collins didn't have because of the lockout and he was set to retire.
The Colts' offense is just as complex as New England's and it will have to be simplified for Manning's mortal replacement. Here are the top four ways the injuries to the top two quarterbacks in the past ten seasons vary greatly to their respective teams.
4. Unknown Future Playing Status of Peyton Manning
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When Tom Brady tore his ACL, Football Night in America had the information that he was out for the entire season on the day of his injury. Manning's injury is much different as it deals with nerves and a much more complex body part. No one knows when the healing will be finished.
There should be a lot of "Preparing for the Worst but Praying for the Best" in Indianapolis's case. Holding out hope for Manning's comeback in 2011 is somewhat desperate though. Even if he's medically cleared to play this season, the Colts may be far back in the division race. Not only that, but if Kerry Collins is still playing he'd present a better option because Manning needs to get acclimated to the offense again.
The rest of the offense currently playing should get acclimated to Collins because there's a better chance of him taking snaps late in the year than Manning. That's a strong statement for a guy who pulled a calf muscle in pregame warmups last season.
The "Us Against the World" mentality applies to both teams in each situation.
3. Supporting Cast
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It's said time and time again that the Colts' defense is set up to play with a lead. In New England's case, Belichick runs the defense how he sees fit. This means stopping the run in the 3-4 scheme. Belichick's defense in 2008 ranked 10th in total yards given up while the Colts' unit was just 20th last season.
No other organization in the entire NFL is surrounded by players that mold any other quarterback's style as the Colts have for Peyton Manning. Randy Moss can be any quarterback's toy as he runs go-routes. An older Reggie Wayne works off of precision route running and precision timing coming out of each route.
General Manager Bill Polian has drafted smarter receivers over the more physically talented because of the scheme (see Collie, Austin). Collins's big arm has been used for finding speedy targets like Nate Washington and physically imposing players like Justin Gage.
2. Coaching Staffs
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Bill Belichick isn't an offensive coach, but Josh McDaniels sure was a good one for New England. Matt Cassel was made to look like a Pro Bowler in the 15 games he started in Tom Brady's absence. McDaniels has proven to be one of the better offensive play callers in the NFL while he was the coordinator not only for the Patriots but the Denver Broncos and now the St. Louis Rams.
Jim Caldwell has been attached to the right arm of Peyton Manning even before he took Tony Dungy's place. Calwell was the quarterback's coach for years before being named head coach. Caldwell's last head coaching job without a quarterback named Manning was at Wake Forest. His tenure at the school included a 1-10 season, two 2-9 seasons and three 3-8 seasons.
The Colts haven't replaced their championship core like the Patriots have since their championships. Belichick was familiar with switching out significant parts to his best teams.
Peyton Manning is one of the very few quarterbacks left that is allowed to make any change he wants to an offensive play call at the line of scrimmage. Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen's role will be increased significantly with Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter, or any other quarterback taking snaps for Indianapolis in 2011.
1. Division Competitors
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The 2008 season had the New England Patriots losing 5 more games than the previous season but still finishing with 11 wins. Despite doing so, the team not only failed to win the AFC East but they didn't even receive a wild card spot. If the Colts have 5 less wins than they did a year ago, they'll be at 5-11.
Indianapolis is in a much weaker division than that 2008 AFC East. The AFC South has 3 teams that failed to finish .500 last season while the AFC East had 3 teams over .500 in 2008. The AFC South will improve in 2011, but no team will finish with double-digit victories. While the Texans are supposed to win, the franchise has only one winning season in its history.
The Colts can still expect to be near the top of the conference if Collins plays like he did just three years ago during his 2008 campaign, a season that saw the Indianapolis Colts fail to finish first in the division for the first time since 2003.
The team that beat out Manning's Colts? Kerry Collins's Tennessee Titans.