Even before Peyton Manning was actually released the Seahawks were rumored to be interested in him. Then when it became an official rumor that Manning would be released, we began to hear the conditions the Seahawks would be willing to endure financially and structurally to bring Manning in. And now that his release is actually official, and no longer a rumor, the Seahawks have reportedly already talked to Manning and his people.
It makes sense. Manning is probably the top free agent available, at worst he’s second behind Mario Williams. The Seahawks biggest position of need is quarterback, and Manning is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play football. So why am I not as excited as some fans?
I have been pretty adamant that I don’t think Manning is an ideal fit in Seattle. The offense that they run doesn’t fit his skills very well, and I think that his athletic limitations will end up affecting not only the pass game but also the run game, as the quarterback plays a significant role in the running game in a zone-blocking scheme, even when his hands aren’t on the ball. I’m not dumb enough to think that Manning wouldn’t understand the West Coast Offense. The guy is perhaps the smartest quarterback to ever play the game. If you gave Manning a playbook he’d never seen, and that was entirely written in Arabic, I doubt he’d make it out of the first quarter without calling an audible at the line. It’s not that he can’t figure it out, it’s that he can’t do it physically, healthy or not (further explanation in the aforementioned link).
The Seahawks seem to be willing to change their offense to fit Manning’s skills. If that’s the case, then great. He’s a hell of a quarterback, and the Seahawks need a hell of a quarterback. I don’t think it just becomes as simple though, as the offense changing for Manning, and changing back when he’s gone.
James Carpenter and John Moffitt are scheme guys. Whether either one is healthy next year is a question at this point, but Moffitt may not function as well in a more conventional blocking scheme, and Carpenter would probably have to change positions in such a change. Tack on right-tackle to the list of needs.
And while the Seahawks seem intent on drafting a quarterback to develop, and having a guy develop under Manning is an attractive proposition, what good is having a Manning-friendly offense in place for that quarterback to learn, if it’s just going to change back when Manning leaves.
If Peyton Manning comes to Seattle the team need to make wholesale changes. Such changes run counter to the kind of adherence to the process in place that Pete Carroll and John Schneider have been preaching for the past two seasons. Mike Holmgren sat through multiple seasons of the Seahawks fanbase booing Matt Hasselbeck (god I wanted Dilfer in so bad) before Hasselbeck proved most of Seattle wrong. Mike Holmgren had conviction. Do Schneider and Carroll?
Ultimately, signing Manning upgrades the quarterback position, and in doing so answers one big offseason question. But in answering that question it would create about a half-dozen questions that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. And by the way, this all may be moot, as Manning seems to have already traveled to Miami.
Signing Peyton Manning would be a risky move, and without a doubt the fate of the coaching staff and front office would rest directly atop the shoulders, and fused vertebrae of one Peyton Manning.