Friday, December 30, 2016

Calling all Peytons

The Indianapolis Colts pack up and go home after whatever happens against Jacksonville this weekend, and we all know what that means. It means that, the next day, head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson will likely be sent packing, too.

That's what everyone says, anyway, and they're probably right, because kumbaya moments like last year's don't have any shelf life when a franchise that four years ago was openly targeting the Super Bowl misses the playoffs for the second year in a row. And so there'll be no replay of Jim Irsay getting Pagano and Grigson together and telling the world that, from now on, everyone will be getting along famously.

Instead, they're likely to be getting on down the road.

Which of course has gotten the rumor mill cranking.

There is, after all, a certain man hanging out in his bathrobe these days, a man selling pizza and Direct TV, a man calling his brother on game days and inviting him over for nachos. That would be Peyton Manning, of course. And, except for commercials highlighting that he's not really doing anything these days, he's not really doing anything these days.

And so everyone's wondering if Irsay might be thinking about bringing him back to Indianapolis in some front-office capacity, perhaps even GM. That would require another kumbaya moment, given that Irsay is the guy who pushed Manning out the door to begin with. But Peyton remains an icon in Indianapolis, and he spent the last few years of his playing career watching John Elway, an icon in Denver, successfully run the Broncos. Presumably he learned something.

So this makes all kinds of sense. With a couple of  caveats.

One is that the impeccable mind Manning brought to the football field every weekend doesn't necessarily translate to the front office. It has in Elway's case, but every case is different. Dissecting defenses, after all, is not the quite the same as dissecting other teams' front offices on draft day.

And the other caveat?

That hiring someone with Manning's credentials and profile might narrow the field of prospective head coaches.

If you put Peyton Manning in charge of the front office, after all, he's not going to be a figurehead. He's going to be in charge of the front office. Which might chase off a few coaching prospects with lofty profiles themselves, because a lot of those are likely to want some control over the front office as well.

That's not going to happen if Manning's there. It didn't even happen with Grigson and Pagano, and neither of them are Peyton Manning.

So maybe you get Manning in the Elway role and some high-profile coordinator with prior head coaching experience. That could work.

And surely worth a shot.

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