Sunday, February 7, 2010

A beautiful mind: Colts’ Manning

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. | Jim Caldwell dug deep into scientific terminology to come up with a way to describe his quarterback.
Heck, nearly every adjective already has been used for Peyton Manning, who tonight will lead the Indianapolis Colts into Super Bowl XLIV against the New Orleans Saints. So why not trot out another way to depict the NFL’s only four-time MVP.
“I’m not certain I have any unusual way of describing it, but there is a term … hypermnesia, and he does have (it),” Caldwell said of a term that is the opposite of amnesia. “He has the ability to remember almost everything he sees and hears.
“He not only can take that information in, but he can also (repeat) it, and he can utilize it. You’ll find a lot of people can take in volumes of information, but their comprehension, maybe they get some, maybe they don’t. But being able to apply it when you need it, and he can do all of those things in the heat of the battle, under pressure, with the game on the line.
“That’s what makes him so very unusual.”
And so very productive.
Manning, 33, is on track to break every passing record in the book. He’s third on the NFL’s all-time list in completions (4,232) and touchdown passes (366) and has thrown for more than 4,000 yards in 10 of his 12 seasons — or four more 4,000-yard seasons than his closest competitors, Brett Favre and Dan Marino.
“I have limited athletic ability,” Manning said in a self-deprecating way, “so I have to use the cerebral stuff.”
It’s that brain power that is so essential to Manning’s staying power. He recognizes defenses and reads blitzes and coverages so well, and the ball is out of his hand so quickly, pass rushers can’t get to him. His uniform is usually pristine after games. He was sacked just 10 times in nearly 600 pass plays this season.
Little wonder he has started all 192 regular-season games and taken every snap in 162 of those 192 games. Manning has missed one career snap because of injury, when he got a busted lip against Miami in 2001. When backup Mark Rypien fumbled the first snap from center, Manning quickly returned to the game.
Manning was sacked twice early in the AFC championship game two weeks ago by the New York Jets, and the Colts fell behind 17-6. But once Manning recognized what Rex Ryan’s defense was doing, he led the Colts to a 30-17 victory, throwing for 377 yards and three touchdowns.
“When I looked at the tape of the game against the Jets, I thought from a cerebral standpoint, it was Peyton Manning’s best game of his career, and to me, that’s saying a lot,” said ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski.
“The speed he makes decisions is incredible. … he has a brilliant mind … he knows exactly what that defense is going to do. By the time that ball is snapped, from the top of his drop, he knows exactly where everyone is. He sees the field with incredible clarity, and he’s extremely smart.”
Manning has been a film junkie for as long as he can remember.
“When it comes to football, I have just been stuck in a routine that has worked for me since I have started playing college football,” he said. “Since film was available to study, I just kind of had a thirst for it. I never felt I did more than anybody, any other quarterback was doing. I never felt I had some secret system or anything. I just knew that is where I was going to try to gain some type of edge.