BY Art Thiel 03:08PM 03/09/2012

Thiel: Manning too much of an impulse buy

For all the reasons that pursuing Peyton Manning can make sense for the Seahawks, there’s one football deal-breaker: The offensive line isn’t ready for him.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has a way with many words, but what he needs to get Peyton Manning are healthy linemen. / Rod Mar, Seattle Seahawks

As much fun as it would be to have Peyton Manning around — how many Seattle athletes have hosted “Saturday Night Live?” — I’ll take a pass on the idea.

Not that I don’t think the Seahawks shouldn’t make a bid.  After all, being used is a part of our sporting tradition.

I mean, if Prince Fielder can use the Mariners to help him get a better deal from Detroit, and David Stern can use Chris Hansen and Sonics sentiment to squeeze Sacramento into a  better deal for the Kings (and New Orleans for the Hornets) why should the Seahawks miss out on the opportunity to be door-matted?

I understand how the free market works, and playing one against the other is as American as a Ponzi scheme. So there is no shame in that game. Right? Besides, we volunteered for pro sports.

So pride aside, there is much to recommend Seattle to Manning, starting with owner Paul Allen. Bold dude.

Aside from his adventures in space travel, brain science and rock music, Allen has busted some unexpected sports moves. Or did you see coming in 2005 the Seattle guy’s poach of the Sonics’ Mr. Seattle, Nate McMillan, to become the Trail Blazers’ coach in Portland? Did you see coming Pete Carroll’s departure from USC to become Seahawks head coach after Allen axed one-time local hero Jim Mora after a single season?

As one who as been full or part owner in three pro sports franchises, winner in none, Allen must have an itch that yearns for an industrial-strength scratch.

Unfortunately for Allen, while there is no salary cap on coaches or facilities, there is a salary cap for NFL player payrolls. Even though the Seahawks are well under the current cap, the amount available for Manning is finite without financially straitjacketing the franchise — although salmon-fishing off Allen’s 300-foot yacht would help Manning’s kids forget the meatloaf-comfort-food of the Midwest.

Seattle has another asset in Carroll,  one of the premier recruiters in college, pro ball or used cars. Besides the ability to talk the chrome off a trailer hitch, Carroll would willingly adapt his offense to accommodate an aging, immobile quarterback who may not be able to turn his head. With the return of Marshawn Lynch at running back, as well as most of a defense that was seventh in points against (19.7 ppg), Manning could be the difference-maker with his remaining skills and leadership.

As to the non-football considerations — geographic isolation, unsexy football profile, outdoor stadium, etc. — even Manning probably doesn’t know yet how to sort them for any market. Having never been in this situation, things may become more or less important by the day to him, so for outsiders to suggest they know the order of Manning’s priorities is specious at best.

There is, however, a fairly objective football consideration that looms above all as the deal-breaker for Seattle — the offensive line. It’s unlikely to be ready to protect Manning in 2012 the way he needs protecting.

It’s not that the O-line is bad. It’s just unproven. Despite the literal and figurative gains made in the second half of last season, it’s unclear in March how healthy in September will be key figures such as Russell Okung, James Carpenter, John Moffitt, Max Unger and Robert Gallery. They all missed games last year with a variety of injuries, and no amount of off-season treatments and surgeries prove anything by Tuesday, when Manning is eligible to make his decision.

Several replacements, including tackle Breno Giacomini — the first of Seattle’s 18 unrestricted free agents to be re-signed — were reasonably credible, but cumulatively less than what some other teams can offer for the most important teammates Manning will have.

Seahawks management knows this better than any outsider. Hell, it’s a big part of the reason they signed in the last two years two temps for the QB position, Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. So many linemen were going to be so unproven that it would have been foolish to put a premier QB in the crosshairs of opposing defenses. Throw in an actuarial-table-destroying series of injuries among them, and the plan proved out its wisdom, even if consecutive 7-9 seasons didn’t electrify the fan base.

The OL greenness was a good part of the reason they could let go a veteran QB, Matt Hasselbeck, who still had game in him, as his first season in Tennessee established.

But now, the pursuit of Manning goes against the plan, because Manning is available about a year too soon for the OL to do right by him. There’s a chance that all could come together at once to make the Seahawks a 12-4 team. But at 36 and a year out of football, Manning would be silly, as is often heard at the senior-special buffet line, to buy green bananas.

Seattle’s interest feels like an impulse buy, a little like the decision Carroll made at the end of the 30-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in October. With 13 seconds left and faced with the choice of a fourth-and-eight to get a first down, or an attempt at a club-record and nearly NFL-record 61-yard field goal attempt by Stephen Hauschka, to win, Carroll chose to kick.

It fell short. So did Carroll’s explanation.

“I wanted to give them a chance to win it,” he said. “We were going to take a shot on making a historic kick.”

The decision was a classic Carroll impulse, buttressed by years of years of having his impulses validated by the best college football program in the West. But the Seahawks, relatively speaking, aren’t USC, Seattle isn’t LA, and the NFL isn’t a place that often indulges impulse.

All last season, Carroll preached to fans for patience while his youngsters came together. For the most part, he was right. Now he would be well-served to listen to his own words.

Pursue Green Bay backup Matt Flynn? Sure. Draft Ryan Tannehill with the 12th pick? Not a bad idea. Stick with Jackson for one more year? I bet he can get two more wins.

But no more 61-yard field goal attempts. Stick with the green bananas.


YourThoughts

  • dcrockett17

    Considering the offensive lines in play, I don’t see where Seattle is any worse than any of the others Manning is considering (Denver, Washington, Miami, KC and Arizona). In fact, if you look at the ratings on Football Outsiders 
    http://footballoutsiders.com/stats/ol  they are all pretty comparable run blocking lines (all between 4.21 and 4.01 adjusted line yards, except for KC who was bad at 3.81). Not one is a good pass blocking lines. Washington rates as the best pass blocking line, and they’re middle of the pack at best. Seattle is clearly a better pass-blocking line than Arizona, Denver, and Miami. 

    As far as health, ACL surgeries for offensive linemen are so common and recovery so predictable I’m surprised you brought it up. That’s a non-factor. If we were talking microfracture I could see it.There were always reasons that Seattle wouldn’t be on top of Manning’s list. To my mind, at the top of that list is the fact the Seattle and Miami are almost perfectly comparable. It’s just that Peyton Manning has a condo in Miami.

  • dcrockett17

    Considering the offensive lines in play, I don’t see where Seattle is any worse than any of the others Manning is considering (Denver, Washington, Miami, KC and Arizona). In fact, if you look at the ratings on Football Outsiders 
    http://footballoutsiders.com/stats/ol  they are all pretty comparable run blocking lines (all between 4.21 and 4.01 adjusted line yards, except for KC who was bad at 3.81). Not one is a good pass blocking lines. Washington rates as the best pass blocking line, and they’re middle of the pack at best. Seattle is clearly a better pass-blocking line than Arizona, Denver, and Miami. 

    As far as health, ACL surgeries for offensive linemen are so common and recovery so predictable I’m surprised you brought it up. That’s a non-factor. If we were talking microfracture I could see it.There were always reasons that Seattle wouldn’t be on top of Manning’s list. To my mind, at the top of that list is the fact the Seattle and Miami are almost perfectly comparable. It’s just that Peyton Manning has a condo in Miami.

  • Jamo57

    Art, may I offer one other Seattle tradition:  Our tradition of buying future HOFers while ignoring the worn tread on the tires and the oil spots they leave in the driveway.

    Carl Eller, Franco Harris, Jerry Rice, Patrick Ewing, and gosh even Ken Griffey Jr…….I cant get away from the thought that Peyton Manning will add another chapter to that Seattle tradition.

  • Jamo57

    Art, may I offer one other Seattle tradition:  Our tradition of buying future HOFers while ignoring the worn tread on the tires and the oil spots they leave in the driveway.

    Carl Eller, Franco Harris, Jerry Rice, Patrick Ewing, and gosh even Ken Griffey Jr…….I cant get away from the thought that Peyton Manning will add another chapter to that Seattle tradition.

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  • Bayviewherb

    Has anyone thought about the Boise State QB?

  • Bayviewherb

    Has anyone thought about the Boise State QB?

  • Steve60

    Art, I agree but perhaps for slightly different reasons.  I think the OL will be OK, but whomever is our QB they need to be able to move around – never one of Peyton’s strengths.  It would be a mistake to blow what salary cap room we have on a 36 yr old QB who may no longer be what he was.  We need to continue on the youth movement and build thru the draft.

  • Steve60

    Art, I agree but perhaps for slightly different reasons.  I think the OL will be OK, but whomever is our QB they need to be able to move around – never one of Peyton’s strengths.  It would be a mistake to blow what salary cap room we have on a 36 yr old QB who may no longer be what he was.  We need to continue on the youth movement and build thru the draft.

  • Jim Q.

    Art:  I agree with your overall thoughts of Manning and the Seahawks, I wonder about Manning’s continued health when he plays next year in cities he didn’t visit in his brief tour, he could get some extra effort out of DT’s & DE’s in a few cities. 

    Regarding RGIII, I think there may be a story in comparing the huskies QB-Keith Price to RGIII.  Remember the holiday bowl?  Keith Price could be the real deal in next years draft, so why cry in our beer (as some are doing) because we “lost out” on RGIII?

  • Jim Q.

    Art:  I agree with your overall thoughts of Manning and the Seahawks, I wonder about Manning’s continued health when he plays next year in cities he didn’t visit in his brief tour, he could get some extra effort out of DT’s & DE’s in a few cities. 

    Regarding RGIII, I think there may be a story in comparing the huskies QB-Keith Price to RGIII.  Remember the holiday bowl?  Keith Price could be the real deal in next years draft, so why cry in our beer (as some are doing) because we “lost out” on RGIII?

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  • PapaLegba

    I do find it curious that most “experts” believe Manning will bring instant Superbowl possibilities to whichever team he goes to. Playoff contention is certainly possible for any of the teams thought to be Manning suitors. However, Manning spent 14 seasons with the Colts and went to only 2 Superbowls, winning the first appearance back in 2007. The other, a loss to the Saints in 2010.

    Two Superbowl tries out of 14 doesn’t inspire the kind of hope necssary, for me, to justify paying the price tag for Mannings’ uncertain services.

  • PapaLegba

    I do find it curious that most “experts” believe Manning will bring instant Superbowl possibilities to whichever team he goes to. Playoff contention is certainly possible for any of the teams thought to be Manning suitors. However, Manning spent 14 seasons with the Colts and went to only 2 Superbowls, winning the first appearance back in 2007. The other, a loss to the Saints in 2010.

    Two Superbowl tries out of 14 doesn’t inspire the kind of hope necssary, for me, to justify paying the price tag for Mannings’ uncertain services.

  • JimC

    I dunno. I think with a healthy draught of Ken Griffey Jr.’s nerve tonic and he could be right back to form.

  • JimC

    I dunno. I think with a healthy draught of Ken Griffey Jr.’s nerve tonic and he could be right back to form.

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  • RadioGuy

    Flopping is something that’s been plaguing the game for years, and may do as much as anything to damage the sport’s quest for credibility with American sports fans who AREN’T into soccer.  Yes, you get flopping in basketball, too, but it’s a small annoyance in a game that routinely features a combined 200 points per game.  When a flop leads to the only score in a soccer game, what is a casual fan supposed to take away from that, especially when soccer proponents are trying to counter the perception that the sport is “boring” to many of these people by touting its artistry and intricacy?  How do you sell a flop as being “artistic?”

    Not to single out the Sounders or MLS for this because flopping happens at much higher levels of soccer elsewhere than what we get in North America, but stuff like this isn’t going to help win new converts to what IS a great sport.

    • Artthiel

      Exactly, radio, why cheapen the the game with cheap tricks designed to manipulate? Everyone last night ended up looking foolish — Burch for being baited, Lenhart for being the perp, and the official for being had.

  • Brent

    It is disturbing when a game is decided by who is officiating.  You had the Lenhart flop leading to the game’s only goal.  You had another hard foul in the box in the second half that wasn’t called, and would have likely been the equalizer.  You had a red card that was retracted a few seconds later.  The officials should never be the difference in a match.  And yet, that’s what happened last night.

    That said, the teams were pretty even on the pitch.  The Sounders had their chances, and blew them.  San Jose blew quite a few chances.  San Jose played harder and smarter, IMHO.  I feel sorry for the ref who has to spend this week thinking about how it all came down to a call he shouldn’t have made, a call he didn’t make, and a red card he got suckered into retracting.  Hopefully, we pay the refs enough to become the best refs MLS can afford.  They work their behinds off, too, and make just as many mistakes as the players.

    • Artthiel

      Brent, while other sports have officiating miscalls that determine outcomes, a too-high percentage of soccer tactics are devoted to the deliberate manipulation of officiating. It’s one thing to try to get away with punching a player in a football pile-up, it’s another to deliberately commit a fraud seen by thousands in house and millions on TV.  Regarding the fines, they may be disproportionate, but obviously it had no effect on Lenhart. MLS has to go Goodell on this if it wants to retain credibility with its growing audience in the U.S.

      • Brent

        It isn’t just the wrongful results (though the Sounders obviously didn’t deserve to win last night).  It’s the growing injury list, as in another Sounder has gone onto the injury list every match so far this season.  A dozen more matches, and there may be nobody left on the roster.  That’s what really has to stop.

        It’s partially bad karma.  There are more than a couple Sounders who I’ve seen get kicked in the shin, fall down, and grab their face.  As a Sounders fan, I am repeatedly embarassed.  Yes, the other sides do it too, and get away with it.

        Lenhart once played under Coach Schmid at the Crew.  He played the same game then.

        Coach Schmid lamented that referees aren’t doing enough to protect star players, like Mauro, but when Mauro is known for some of the best acting in the MLS, he’s going to find less protection from the refs.

        They review films.  They learn the tactics.  They sometimes even notify the commissioner that some blatant and flagrant violations merit ex post facto punishments, such as happened to Flaco last week.

        Change starts at home.  Word to Coach Schmid:  I didn’t buy a season ticket to see hockey.  I bought a season ticket to see the beautiful game.  If someone engages in embellishment or violence, pull him out of the Starting Eleven.

        Show violence and embellishment the red card!

        And a parting plea to the ECS:  That song about the firing squad may be popular around the world, but it is really in poor taste after what happened in Port Saaid.  Can we give the songs promoting violence a rest, please?

  • Brent

    Lenhart, though, is probably biting his nails more than the referee.  A red card is just time off the pitch.  Embellishment, as we heard last week, can come with a big, big fine, which is all the more of a punishment when the players are suffering under the yoke of a salary cap.

    If you ask me, the fines should be much smaller until MLS agrees to lift the salary cap.  The fines need to be in line with their pathetically small salaries.

    And as long as the MLS is the only professional football league in the world with a player salary cap, it will never be taken serious by soccer fans, regardless of how good or bad the officiating is.

  • Artthiel

     He is said to be a chronic manipulator, kelly, and his coach complains that the refs are too hard on him. I get the gamesnmanship, but the fans’ own eyes don’t lie, especially backed by replay. It’s a blight.