Playing home games in a dome helps Manning, but he'd thrive anywhere
Posted: Tuesday December 7, 2004 12:12PM; Updated: Tuesday December 7, 2004 9:42PM
Indoor vs. Outdoor
I normally don't do this, but I'm going to open with one of your questions. It's a good query, one I wanted to know the answer to.
Tracey Jordan of Chicago writes: "I know Peyton Manning is really good, even great, but does some of his success come from playing eight games a season in a dome?"
I think it does. I'm sure it does, in fact. Not all of his success is due to playing eight games a year in the RCA Dome, but some of it is. The Colts' offense is a precision one, and a precision offense is obviously going to be more precise if it's not windy or raining or snowing, and if the ground isn't slippery. But, and I must stress this ever so strongly, Peyton Manning would make the Pro Bowl if he played 16 weeks in a typhoon. So the home dome helps, but it doesn't make the man.
Entering this season, Manning had a lifetime quarterback rating of 93.1 at home and 83.2 on the road. I would call that significant. This year, those numbers have risen to intergalactic levels: 132.1 at home, 120.5 on the road.
If you add this year's game at domed Detroit, above are Manning's indoor vs. outdoor numbers (seven indoor, five outdoor).
Remember two things when comparing these numbers. The outdoor games, by and large, have pitted Manning and the Colts against tougher defenses than they faced in their indoor games. Indianapolis played New England and Chicago in outdoor venues. (The Colts faced Kansas City outdoors too. But Manning played against the two toughest defenses outside, including in New England on an inclement day to open the season.) And remember that many other quarterbacks play inside. Manning isn't the only one.
Bottom line: Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper would be really, really good anywhere.
The one thing I can see the indoor games having an effect on is the playoffs. Outdoor January football. How will it affect Manning when he has to go to Pittsburgh or New England -- or both -- next month? That's the big question.
THREE QUESTIONS WITH ...
... Carolina coach John Fox, who has his Panthers at 5-7 following a four-game winning streak.
MMQBTE: We all left you for dead a few weeks ago. What happened?
Fox: Our players have just risen up and responded to the challenge. It's as simple as that. The way we pick players is a lot like how New England picks its guys. It's not just based on ability. And so when you're really struggling, and you've got so many injuries, you better have guys who are going to go out every week and play hard. Football's not just a star game. And our backup guys have really come through for us.
MMQBTE: Why have you had to use so many running backs this season?
Fox: Well, we came into the year thinking Stephen Davis was going to be our main back, with DeShaun Foster getting more opportunities. I figured at the start of the season maybe the carries would be split about 60-40, with Davis getting the 60. But he went down early with a knee injury, and then we lost DeShaun to a broken collarbone right after that. Then our third back, Rod Smart, blew out his knee returning a kick. Then we used Brad Hoover, who really was our fullback, and we wore him out. We brought Joey Harris up from the practice squad one week, and on Friday he strained his hamstring pretty bad. He was out. We then had to go sign a guy -- Jamal Robertson -- and bring him in right away. He was on the plane with us to San Francisco, but nobody on the team knew who he was. The night before the game, in our team meeting, I told everybody, "Guys, this is our new running back, Jamal Robertson." By that time, the guy who started the year as our backup fullback, Nick Goings, was playing. He's done a real good job for us.
MMQBTE: Is the fact that so many 5-7 teams are still in the hunt in December good for the NFL or bad for the league?
Fox: I'd say it's good. I mean, in baseball, at the beginning of the year, you know the Yankees and the Red Sox are going to be in it, but how many other teams every year are going to have a chance?
FROM THE E-MAIL BAG
YOU DEFEND BUTCH DAVIS WAY TOO MUCH, PETER. From Brad Smith of Cleveland: "We understand that Butch Davis inherited an awful football team with virtually no talent. However, why do you keep defending the man (and his talent evaluation skills) when he clearly had awful drafts for the Browns?"
Peter King will answer your questions each week in Monday Morning Quarterback: Tuesday Edition.
The point of my column was to say that while Davis made his share of mistakes, he also inherited more of them. I wrote that he was a control freak, a man who "insanely" ignored Ron Wolf's advice. I noted that Davis looked less than bright when he drafted Gerard Warren over Richard Seymour even though the organization had Seymour rated as the first overall pick in the draft. I mentioned that Davis' strict road rules would drive me out of my cotton-pickin' mind if I were one of his players. So for the 9,069 folks who took time to write (I'm exaggerating, people, but not by much) and express their view about the relative worth on earth of Butch Davis, please understand I wasn't advocating that he not get whacked. I was suggesting that he not be blamed for everything that's wrong with the Browns.
HELP FOR ELI. From Andrew Brown of Hoboken, N.J.: "Do the Giants go into the 2005 NFL draft and look to get some reliable hands for Eli Manning, or do they focus on rebuilding their atrocious line?"
Good question. Remember, the Giants have traded their first-round pick in the 2005 draft already; that went to San Diego in the Eli Manning trade. So you have to ask yourself: With one prime pick, early in the second round, what will they do? I think Tom Coughlin would go for a top offensive tackle first, but maybe the value pick would be on the lower end of the cadre of good receivers who will be out there.
YOU'RE A COWBOYS APOLOGIST. From Alex Espinosa of Cedar Rapids, Iowa: "Being a diehard Cowboys fan, I wonder: What makes you stick up for these guys every week? You seem to be the only journalist not living in Dallas who believes the Cowboys aren't going to lose every game by 30 points. What do you see that other people don't?"
Julius Jones. And we all see him now.
THE HEINEKEN AD. From Desmond of Orange, Calif.: "The guy in the Heineken ad just wanted access to his beer. His girlfriend was asleep on his arm, which held his beer, causing the boyfriend serious consternation. He told her he loved her and she moved closer to him -- thus freeing up his arm and also THE HEINEKEN. Maybe it would come across better to you if the boyfriend was holding a triple hazelnut latte."
Aha! Thank you.
A BILL RHODEN QUESTION. From Peter Edeburn of Bloomington, Minn.: "I searched through The New York Times online and found nothing written by Bill Rhoden since last weekend. To what were you referring in Monday Morning Quarterback?"
I like Rhoden a lot, but I thought his comments Sunday on ESPN "Sports Reporters" minimizing the wrongdoing of Barry Bonds were really off base. That's it.
TWO THINGS (FOR TUESDAY) I THINK I THINK
1. I think the football world now knows why Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones passed on Steven Jackson.
2. I think lots of people around the league, including master of the art Bill Belichick, took note of what Carson Palmer did Sunday when he brought the Bengals back from a 20-3 deficit to win on the road against the best defense in football. Belichick said Monday he thought Palmer reminded him of a young John Elway. Less fleet, yes, but a good comparison. Will he grow up to be an old Elway? Time will tell.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King covers the NFL beat for the magazine and is a regular contributor to SI.com. Monday Morning Quarterback appears in this space every week.