Peyton's having his best year yet. He's far more patient than he's been in the past, and I think the Colts' defense, which is playing great, has had a lot to do with that. Peyton's no longer going into the opening kickoff thinking that if he doesn't hurry up and score and get the lead, his team is going to be in a hole. On third and long he's not scared to throw one away and punt. It's a luxury that he hasn't been given until this season.
"Peyton has always been the leader of this team, aside from his rookie year, when he was trying to feel things out. People continue to make a big deal out of this kicker guy, [Mike] Vanderjagt, calling him out in January, as if Peyton is somehow different now. [After the Colts' 41-0 playoff loss to the New York Jets, Vanderjagt said Manning should show more emotion.] It's a bunch of manure, but if Vanderjagt wants to take credit for getting Peyton excited, then let him take credit.
"I think Peyton's got the potential to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. I'd be surprised if he gets the MVP this season, though. When it comes to being recognized and receiving awards, Peyton is too often denied. People don't see him as the underdog. He's always been on top of the game, so people are always looking for someone new to be excited about. Maybe Peyton's style of play isn't hip enough to make the impression that a young, up-and-coming athlete does. However, I bet if you polled NFL coaches on the MVP, it wouldn't even be a contest. I bet you their vote would be Peyton. Same goes for the players.
"Archie called me the other day and said, 'I just got an interesting call from [ Washington Redskins coach Steve] Spurrier and [quarterback] Patrick Ramsey.' This was after the Colts-Buccaneers game. The Redskins were playing Tampa Bay the next week. Spurrier is not one to dish out compliments, but he fold Arch, 'We're watching this tape, and I just want to let you know that Peyton has the best feet, the best fundamentals. He is so good, I hope I can teach Patrick to be like that.'
"Take Peyton's performance against the Saints [on Sept. 28]. It's just not supposed to be that easy. I think Peyton could've had even bigger numbers [he went 20 of 25 for 314 yards and six touchdowns in a 55-21 Indianapolis victory], but it's not about that. It's about getting the win and moving on down the road. It was one of those evenings when everything he did worked. It was just Peyton's turn."