Jets not the right fit for Manning
Peyton Manning bid an emotional farewell to Indianapolis yesterday, spending much of his day thanking many of the people who meant so much to him during his 14 years with the Colts. Teammates. Front-office executives. Secretaries. Equipment managers. Manning thanked them all before he moved on to the rest of his NFL life.
The Jets will be taking a very keen interest in that part of Manning's career, and are expected to make a serious run at the future Hall of Fame quarterback, hoping he'll reinvigorate an offense that collapsed down the stretch last year.
The Jets want Manning. The question is whether Manning will want the Jets.
Coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum surely will make a compelling case for Manning, and they'll undoubtedly offer him plenty of money and plenty of input into how he'd like to run his offense. But when Manning looks at the Jets and compares them to the other teams bidding for his services, the hunch here is that there are too many negative factors going against the team.
Let's go down the list:
The offensive line: Manning will need protection after missing an entire season because of neck problems that have required four surgical procedures in the last two years. The Jets' line yielded 40 sacks last season, the league's 13th-highest total.
The running game: Manning has won with a mediocre running attack before, but he'll need the benefit of a more serviceable run game to be at his best. The Jets were 22nd overall last year, averaging just 105.8 yards per game. They had only seven runs of more than 20 yards, none more than 40. Gone from the mix in 2012 is veteran LaDainian Tomlinson.
The chemistry issue: Manning certainly is aware of all the Jets' bickering last year, and even though Ryan has promised to have better chemistry, there's no guarantee. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes was at the epicenter of the locker room turbulence, and he's back next season. When another future Hall of Fame QB was once on the Jets' roster, Ryan didn't even reach out to him. Brett Favre decided to "retire" after one season in New York, and Ryan didn't bother to reach out, not even to say goodbye.
The defense: Manning has overcome weak defenses before, but there are plenty of suitors out there with better units than the Jets. Ryan's defense had the fifth-best unit in yards allowed (312.1), but they allowed 363 points; only 12 teams surrendered more. They had just 35 sacks, 17th in the NFL.
The offensive coordinator: Ryan lamented the absence of the "Ground & Pound" mentality of a run-centric offense, so he replaced Brian Schottenheimer with former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, an advocate of smashmouth football. How's that going to mesh with Manning's pass-first approach?
The weather: Don't underestimate this factor, especially for a quarterback who turns 36 in less than three weeks and has played home games in a dome his entire career. Baby brother Eli has done just fine in the elements, but Peyton is used to climate-controlled football.
The competition: The Dolphins have an offense-oriented head coach in Joe Philbin, who helped Aaron Rodgers become an All-Pro quarterback, and a warm-weather venue. The Cardinals have an offensive-minded coach in Ken Whisenhunt, one of the best wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald. The Redskins will spare no expense in trying to lure Manning.
The New York factor: Forget the fact that Eli plays in the same town. I don't think Peyton has a problem with that. But he does prefer an environment where he can have plenty of control.
Sorry, New York is not that market.