We might as well get this out of the way now. Let’s talk about Peyton Manning and the New York Jets by starting with a few clear realities -
1. Peyton Manning isn’t going back to Indianapolis.
2. It remains up in the air whether or not Manning is going to be healthy enough to play this year or ever again.
3. If Manning is medically cleared for the 2012 season, the New York Jets will absolutely explore the option of signing him.
You are kidding yourself if you think Woody Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum, and Rex Ryan aren’t going to do their due diligence on Manning if he is available and healthy. It would be negligent for them not to.
Before we even examine if it is smart for the Jets to sign Manning. First, you have to answer if he would even want to come here. From what we have heard Arizona, Miami, and Washington are all viable options for him as well. Arizona offers warm weather, Larry Fitzgerald, and a team that played very well down the stretch last year. Miami also offers warm weather and a team that played very well down the stretch, along with a new head coach who will embrace a pass heavy system. Washington has a Super Bowl winning head coach and a very capable defense. I would say the Jets have an equal or maybe slightly lower, and definitely not higher chance of getting Manning than either of those three teams.
The outside perception of the Jets right now is that they are in complete disarray in the locker room. I doubt that scares Manning entirely off but does he really want to come to a cold weather team and share New York with his little brother? Could he handle being paired with a personality like Rex Ryan? What about new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who wants to predominantly run the football?
From the Jets side of things, if you don’t think there is a recipe for potential disaster in signing a quarterback of Manning’s age with neck issues you haven’t been watching the past 40 years. Beyond that, forget Ground and Pound or anything Sparano wanted to implement, this becomes Manning’s offense, which means you now have dueling philosophies between Manning and Ryan.
For as great as Manning has been, he hasn’t played in a full season. It would be silly to assume he will come back and immediately be 100 percent of the player he used to be.
You will also be saying good-bye to Mark Sanchez. The Jets won’t be sitting on his salary alongside Manning’s and by bringing in Manning they are throwing in the towel on Sanchez as their franchise quarterback. He isn’t going from starting for three years to sitting on the bench on a first round draft pick’s salary to serve as an apprentice under Manning. So if Manning injuries himself or does the Favre one and done, you are back to square one in finding a quarterback.
Ultimately, everything I wrote above is to point the ignored the negatives in the hysteria of potentially adding one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. In reality, I’d say Manning to the Jets has about a 5% chance of happening. If it does happen and he is healthy, would I be excited about the potential of it? You are damn right I would be. Yet, we would not know the answer on whether or not it was the right decision until Manning got through a whole season and took the Jets to and past the AFC Championship Game and that is a hell of an if.
For whatever Mark Sanchez and the Ground and Pound is, it has gotten the Jets within a few plays of the Super Bowl two of the last three years. If Manning Ball can’t get them past that, then it will always be viewed as the wrong decision.
What I want to see is the Jets front office making football decisions, not media decisions. It was a media decision to sign Brett Favre and it failed. It was a media decision to bring in Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, while letting Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery walk and it failed. The chase of Nnamdi Asomugha was a media decision and it failed while hurting the Jets off-season last year. Football decisions this year would seem to be based around building a stronger offensive line, rushing attack, and split end option for Mark Sanchez coupled with a ball hawking safety and a pass rusher for the defense. A media decision would seem to be adding Manning at all costs, so you could see why I am skeptical.