Peyton Manning’s 2013 Records Chase (after 13 games)

Peyton Manning is on pace to break the single-season records for touchdown passes and passing yards this year (2013). Let’s take a look at Peyton Manning’s 2013 stats compared to those of other QBs after 13 games in their own record-setting seasons. I’ll probably post updates to this after each of the next 3 games as Manning inches closer to these achievements. As always with this football statistics stuff, I never claim expertise, I just do it for fun. I’ve tried to freshen this up a bit, but I held over some stuff from last week’s look. Continue reading

Receiving Corps Showdown! 2004 Colts vs. 2013 Broncos

BC

After watching the Denver Broncos prevail over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon, with Peyton Manning throwing TDs #37-41 on the season (4 of them to Eric Decker), I thought back to Manning’s record breaking 2004 season with the Colts. A question came to my mind: as a QB, who would you rather have: Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark OR Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas?

With four games left in the 2013 season, it’s hard to know how the 10-2 Broncos will end up. The 2004 Colts went 12-4 and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Patriots. Still, I think the question is worth exploring, if only to dive into some fun stats via Pro-Football-Reference and practice making tables in html.

Which team has the better receiving corps in their particular season, the 2004 Colts or the 2013 Broncos? It might be a moot point, or an apples/oranges situation considering the 9-year gap, plus the (projected) difference in pass attempts of 143 (in the Broncos’ favor). As usual, there are several other things that could factor in as well. Still, this is just for fun (and far from expert), so let’s dive in and see who has the edge. (Don’t forget to vote at the end). Continue reading

Peyton Manning’s 2013 Records Chase (after 12 games)

Peyton Manning is on pace to break the single-season records for touchdown passes and passing yards this year (2013). Here’s a quick (and dirty?) look at Peyton Manning’s 2013 stats compared to those of other QBs after 12 games in their own record-setting seasons. I’ll probably post updates to this after each of the next 4 games as Manning inches closer to these achievements. As always with this football statistics stuff, I never claim expertise, I just do it for fun. Continue reading

Quarter-Back Again: Elite-ness Revisited

So, Joe Flacco got himself a Super Bowl ring (and a Super Bowl MVP award, despite any arguments in favor of Jacoby Jones). Does that make him an elite quarterback? I expressed some of my thoughts at length earlier and I more or less declared that, prior to the Super Bowl at least, Flacco was not an elite QB. Now that he’s won, I’m prepared to reevaluate and modify my original ideas, if needed. The criteria I laid out in my previous post was meant to be a measurement of who the best active QBs in the NFL are, whether you want to call them “the elite,” as I basically did, or not. “Elite” has been a troublesome word for me as I struggled to write that post, and now this one.

Here’s a bit taken from an earlier draft of my previous post:

The term “elite” is kind of vague. I believe that elite QBs are a smaller group than the “top 10,” perhaps numbering anywhere between 4-8 in a given season. Of course, by saying “in a given season,” I am suggesting that elite status can be temporary. A QB can be really good for 3 years and then wind up playing for another 10 that aren’t so notable. OR, another more likely prospect is that a QB might start slowly and build to elite status. However you try to slice it, the term is kind of hazy. Even if the term isn’t hazy, everyone’s opinion on who fits the term’s definition is different as well.

I left that part out for one reason or another, but now I’m more inclined to embrace it and its suggestion of the potentially fleeting nature of being an elite QB. Rather than being just the top 4-8 QBs in any given year, perhaps the elite are those whom you would want to lead your team, based on recent performance. Obviously, there can be perennial elites, like the 4 gentlemen I mentioned in my last post (Brady, Brees, Peyton Manning, Rodgers). However, maybe it would be more appropriate to call these perennial elites future Hall of Famers (with the possible exception of Rodgers, who just needs to keep it up for a few more years). That would then suggest that the elite status should be extended beyond just the top four. Continue reading

Quarterbackstravaganza!

I’ve been trying to write a post about Joe Flacco and whether he qualifies as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL (let alone, one of the “elite”) for over a week now, with no success. I’ve done all kinds of research, tallying, calculating and clicking around on pro-football-reference.com and wikipedia to find out not just about Flacco, but also about how he compares to most every other long-term starting QB in the NFL since the year 2000. It’s to the point where my thoughts are so disorganized and the information I’ve compiled is so unwieldy that I just need to throw it all (well, not all of it) out there.

Here’s what it boils down to: since at least the start of the 2011 season (or earlier) there has been some discussion about whether Joe Flacco is an “elite” quarterback. Now he’s playing in the Super Bowl and it sounds like he’ll be demanding “Drew Brees money” when he gets a new contract in the off-season. Throughout all of this, and even up to this point, I’ve personally been skeptical of this praise of Flacco and the desire to rank him among the best QBs in today’s NFL. However, maybe there is something to all of these stories and arguments. Maybe Flacco is actually better than I give him credit for. In an effort to see if Flacco is indeed one of today’s best, I’ve compiled a list of criteria for what I think makes an NFL quarterback one of the best. Please be aware that this is a personal, non-professional/expert analysis. It’s just one fan doing amateur statistical and career comparisons in order to convince himself that he’s right, or find out that he’s wrong. Continue reading

The Bird Bowl

I know it’s premature to write about the Super Bowl when the Conference Championships have yet to be played, but I couldn’t resist posting about this topic, particularly since sharing it with you almost justifies the time I wasted looking all of this stuff up. I don’t promise 100% accuracy, but I should be pretty close on my numbers and dates. Against scholarly standards, I relied almost entirely on Wikipedia for research.

With the NFL Conference Championship games set (49ers/Falcons, Ravens/Patriots), my friend Ben sent me a text message reminding me that possible matchups for the Super Bowl now include the Harbaugh Bowl (or Har-Bowl as I like to call it, featuring 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh vs. his brother John, coach of the Ravens) and the Bird Bowl (it’s obvious, nothing clever there). Sorry Patriots, but here’s hoping it’s not your year. That got me thinking: How unbearable is the media coverage going to get if the Har-Bowl happens? More importantly, it got me thinking: there are a few NFL teams with bird mascots, have we ever had a Bird Bowl before?

The bulk of my research is concerned only with the Super Bowl era, after all, it wasn’t a Bird Bowl if it wasn’t even called the Super Bowl. The actual name “Super Bowl” was apparently mentioned by Lamar Hunt during AFL-NFL merger meetings in 1966. It was picked up by the media and became the official name of the title game for the third AFL-NFL Championship Game. The title was retroactively applied to the first two AFL-NFL Championship Games.

I started my quest for Bird Bowl info by considering the number of bird teams in the NFL during the Super Bowl era. Continue reading

Peyton Manning – Fun with Speculation!

So, it’s just been announced that the Colts will make it official on Wednesday (tomorrow) that they are releasing Peyton Manning after 14 years with the team (only 13 of them playing, of course). The NFL hasn’t come up on this blog yet, but I didn’t want to pass this up, and I’ll likely be writing about it again as the Peyton Manning saga continues.

Just a bit of background: I’m an Indianapolis Colts fan, and have been, for no logical reason, since the middle of the 3-13 1997 season (the season that made it possible for the Colts to draft Manning). I won’t get deep into my love for the (Manning-led) Colts other than to say that no NFL offense ever looked better than the Colts when they were clicking. 2004 was a dream to watch (as was 2005), and the surrounding seasons were pretty stellar too. I regret that I never got to see Manning’s Colts vs. Brady’s Patriots in person, but I’m glad that I did get a chance to see Manning win a game against the Vikings (my entire family’s favorite team) at the Metrodome in 2008.

So, now that he’s free, the speculation can begin. Of course, there might be some fluke and the Colts could actually re-sign Manning. I doubt it. Once he’s released, from what I understand, he can sign pretty much immediately with another team. In order to take advantage of what could be a short window for Manning’s free agency, I wanted to offer a few thoughts while he’s still a Colt.

A) Is Manning healthy/Can Peyton Manning play at the same level he has in recent years?

I don’t think anyone really knows this outside of Manning’s inner circle, or indeed Manning himself. If healthy, I think he can be just as good as he was before the missed season. Of course, that’s not considering that he’ll probably have to learn a whole new system. Granted, a new team would definitely give him a good deal of input into how the offense is run (or he wouldn’t sign with them), but you’ve got to expect some drop-off in production based on the “new team” factor alone. I don’t expect him to lead the league next year, and his MVP days are likely behind him, but I wouldn’t count him out of the top 10 at all.

B) Where will Manning end up?

As much as I love the NFL, I don’t pay enough attention to every team in the league to know what their needs are, what type of system they run, or even what transactions they may have recently made. I may not even be able to name every head coach in the league any more, something I had no trouble doing only a few years ago. That said, I’ll offer my inexpert thoughts and welcome any comments or corrections regarding them.

1. San Francisco – the 49ers were the team that introduced me to the NFL. I have followed them since they beat the Chargers in the Super Bowl and my love for them is second only to the Colts, though the Colts have admittedly offered a lot more to love/talk about in the past decade. I think that San Fran may be the best environment for Manning to have immediate and potentially lasting success. They were 13-3 last year, and 2 of their losses were by 3 or fewer points, something the addition of Manning could correct.They had one of the best defenses in the league last year, they have a better run game than the Colts have had since Edge James left, they’ve got pretty good tight ends and a relatively young receiving corps, they’re a strong team in a weak division, and they’ve got a hot new head coach.

That said, I don’t see Jim Harbaugh screwing over Alex Smith like that. Smith has faced a lot of crap (for a guy making millions) over his 7 seasons. He’s had a revolving door of OC’s and coaches and now with Harbaugh, it seems he finally has a guy who believes in him and believes he can, at least partially, live up to his #1 overall status from the 2005 draft. Harbaugh has said that Smith is his guy, and I don’t see him changing his mind if he can help it. Still, the 49ers haven’t signed Smith yet, so the door is open for Manning to come in.

2. Arizona – I really liked the Cards under Kurt Warner and for some reason I imagine Manning having the same success there. I know the team has changed a little bit since then, but I’ve gotta believe that Manning could excel with Fitz and the good running game AZ has. Looking the final 2011 standings, Manning might’ve given the team 4 more wins (they had 4 losses by 4 or less), bringing them to 12-4. (Side Note, ALL of Arizona’s 2011 wins were by 7 or fewer points.) My major concern with Peyton going to AZ would be the fact that he would play the San Fran defense twice a year. Of course, he’d have to face someone else twice a year if he signed with…

3. Miami – I was impressed with the way the Dolphins turned the corner on their season last year, finishing better than the Bills, a team I was very excited about early in the season (until they fell apart). Miami ended up in the top half defensively last year too, not bad for 6-10 team. Manning could really give the Dolphins a big offensive boost, probably even 5 more wins (5 of Miami’s losses in 2011 were by 3 points or less). That said, Miami was ranked near the bottom in rushing offense. Of course, the absence of a run game hasn’t stopped Manning in the past. The Dolphins appear to be the front-runner for the Manning sweepstakes, and they might actually be the best fit. Oh, and that “someone else”? Tom Brady. Not that I wouldn’t love these two QBs being in the same division again, but I feel like the rivalry would be diminished if Manning is playing for another team. It just wouldn’t be the same. Also, Brady is tough. So is Belichick. I’m sure Manning would love the chance to square of with the Pats twice a year again, but it would make me nervous.

4. Seattle – I honestly don’t know much about Seattle other than the fact that they started Tarvaris Jackson at QB last year (and managed to finish 7-9). They were ranked around 18/19 Offensively and 10/11 Defensively in 2011 as well. So, on paper, the Seahawks might be just as good (if not better) than Miami as a place for Manning to land. If you stick with the logic that Manning would help the team win close games, he probably could’ve given them 4-5 more wins as well. There’s the 49ers defense factor as well, even if that’s just an imagined threat of my making. I guess I could learn to like Manning as a Seahawk, but it just seems weird. So does…

5. Washington – No. For some reason I just don’t want Manning to become a Redskin. Maybe it’s because I don’t like Shanahan. I don’t know. Washington was right in the middle on Defense and around 20 on Offense, but they finished with the worst record of any team considered here, 5-11 (the “close game/win with Manning” theory bumps them up to only 7-9. I just don’t see it.

6. New York Jets – As much as I’ve grown to like Rex Ryan’s antics (but hate him for beating the Colts in 2010), I don’t think Manning is a good fit with Ryan as a coach. I think Ryan as also denied that the Jets are giving up on Sanchez (though apparently they have some interest in Manning now). While Manning could probably give the offense a big boost that Sanchez sometimes (rarely) exhibits, I still don’t see it. One thing the Jets do have is a highly ranked defense. They are right up there with San Fran. Their offense was ranked around 21, though “close game” theory only nets them 2 more wins (10-6), which might not be enough to compete with New England. Still, if Manning goes to Miami or NYJ and can mange to split the series with Brady, he’s got a shot.

I don’t know if there are any other legit contenders for Manning out there. The Bills are stuck with Fitzpatrick for a while. The Raiders probably can’t afford Manning after grabbing Palmer. I think everyone else has a QB they’re happy with or at least hoping to build around (with the possible exception of the Chiefs).

C) Environment

I haven’t really seen it addressed anywhere else yet, but I think it is important to consider the physical environment in which Manning might play. He’s been indoors (at home) his entire NFL career and has had problems playing outside in the winter (or maybe his problem is just Ty Law). At this time, the only team above that plays indoors is Arizona, and their stadium has a retractable roof. Certainly Miami and San Fran wouldn’t be terrible places to play, except for rains. Seattle might not be that bad either, but Washington and New York could be troublesome, even more so if you factor in Manning’s age and the possibility that his health could be adversely affected by cold temps. It’s something to consider.

Of course, all of the above is mere SPECULATION, which is the name of the game right now when it comes to Peyton Manning and his future. This still has potential to be the biggest story of the offseason.