Redskins QB Quandary: Should the Skins Pursue Peyton?

After a disappointing 6-10 2011 campaign by Mike Shanahan and the Redskins, there are many areas on this team that need to be upgraded.  While the defense made strides in their second year of a 3-4 defense; the offense, aside for a late year improvement in the running game, left much to be desired.  Excuses regarding learning “systems” and injuries are overused and non-applicable.  What is clear is that despite Mike Shanahan’s reputation being staked on the quarterback pairing of Rex Grossman and John Beck, there was no starting talent lining up behind center for the Redskins in 2011.  Indeed, the second year of the Shanahan offense yielded poorer quarterback play than the first.

QB                                        Comp %        Yards             TD             INT   Rating

Donovan McNabb in 2010: 58.3%            3,377              14                15       77.1

Rex Grossman in 2010         55.6%            884                7                   4         81.2

Rex Grossman in 2011          57.9%            3151               16                  20       72.4

John Beck in 2011                 60.6%            858                2                    4         72.1

This, of course, was with another year of familiarity in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s (and Mike’s son) offense.  Interceptions were up and touchdowns were down.  Now, I would never say that Donovan McNabb should have been kept for another year. It is clear that his skills diminished even more this year and proved to more of a malcontent than what he was worth  (sad to see, I’ve got to say). But giving the reins to “system” quarterbacks Grossman and Beck, didn’t yield any better results.

One thing is clear when seeing this offense for two years under Shanahan: learning this system is overrated, the Redskins need talent at this position more than any other.

It’s good to have options…

The Skins were so bad this year, they are given the opportunity to improve their team with the 6th overall pick of the draft.  However, with USC QB  Matt Barkley returning to school for a shot at becoming the number 1 pick next year, and Oklahoma QB Landry Jones following suit, the Skins may likely be out of the running for the two top QB prospects – Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. The lack of quarterback talent across the league across the NFL exacerbates the issue.  Obviously for Luck there’s a  99.9% chance of the Colts picking him #1 overall. For Robert Griffin III there’s a good chance the Rams hold an auction for the 2nd overall pick for teams willing to sell the farm. Even if he slides to number 3, the Cleveland Browns are poised to take him and show a slightly struggling Colt McCoy the door.

Some are reporting the Skins should sign Aaron Rodgers’ back up Matt Flynn to a long term deal for the potential he’s shown in limited action.  While others in the media spread rumors of the Skins being willing to package future first round picks and/or players to draft RG III or Luck.  While those are interesting propositions, the most intriguing and possibly the most destructive (maybe even more so than keeping Grossman and Beck for another year) is the scenario that the Redskins either trade for or pick up in free agency, one of the greatest signal callers the game has seen, Peyton Manning.

The Peyton Propositon

Peyton Manning at 36, is one of the best the NFL has ever seen.  But after three neck surgeries in one year, he is possibly one hit away from retirement (assuming he’s healthy even now-which is a big assumption in and of itself).

Pro’s for Peyton:

  1. He has a huge impact on the team around him through motivation, excellent quarterback play, and elevating the play of those around him significantly.The Colts have been a perennial playoff contender, but became the worst team in the NFL without him this year. Replacement QBs Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, and Kerry Collins weren’t able to make much use of the same cast that Peyton had and the Colts only put up two wins.
  2. No one in the league is like Peyton: 94.9 career passer rating with 64.9 completion %, 399 TDs to only 198 Interceptions.
  3. IF he’s healthy, this differs from a Donovan McNabb situation in two ways
  4. No one works harder than Peyton in regards to film study, and being on top of his game.
  5. Peyton is not statistically in decline, his last full year played in Indianapolis was solid: 91.9 passer rating, 66.3%, 33 TD’s and 17 INT’s.
  6. FILLING OTHER NEEDS: The Skins have a lack of talent at many different positions on this squad.  That’s why they were 6-10 last year.  Picking up Peyton gives the Skins the ability to address other needs in the draft like cornerback, offensive line, linebacker, and wide receiver.  The Redskins may even be able to draft a QB in a later round to groom under Peyton for two to three years.

Problems with the Peyton Plan

  1. Health- The Redskins would be gambling on Peyton not only being able to recover from his neck surgeries but to stay healthy for a 16 game (or more, hopefully) season.  For a veteran of 14 years, this is nearly impossible and more difficult with an often times shaky Redskins offensive line.
  2. Short term vs. long term- The Redskins may risk mortgaging future progress by taking the band-aid solution now.  A young quarterback can often progress much more easily if they are enabled to grow with their offense early on (see Andy Dalton in Cincinnati) and the Shanahan club can ill afford to waste ANOTHER year of quarterback quagmires after the lost years of McNabb and Grossman.  This could be a fix for a year or two, but a  franchise quarterback be groomed for the next decade and beyond in that time period.
  3. $$$- Getting Peyton Manning may be costly even though it’s a high risk.  There are reports that the Jets, Dolphins and Cardinals are also interested in getting Manning’s services.  With the exception of the Dolphins, Manning may see other teams as being closer to another Super Bowl with his help putting them over the top.  The Skins may have to make up for that in extra cash (and thus limiting their options for surrounding Peyton with playmakers to help him in his quest).
  4. Personality, Experience, and Strife – Clashing is bound to happen.  Peyton has proved his worth and skill as has Mike Shanahan.  But Kyle Shanahan… has not.  There could be a clash of epic proportions that made the McNabb wristband, cardiovascular battles look like nothing.  This would embarrass and crush the fan base even more than the Swinging Gate or Spurrier years.

My Thoughts

If the Redskins can’t trade up to nab RGIII or if they don’t find another young QB they believe is worthy of a first-round draft pick,  the Skins should pursue Peyton. I don’t have a problem with a Peyton-led team if everyone on the staff understands their roles AND they draft another qb in a later round they think can groom (not a Chase Daniels or Colt Brennan, but a Ryan Tannehill or Nick Foles).  Peyton is the master and must be given flexibility and freedom.  It’s going to be interesting to see what the Skins do, but one thing is for sure.  This quarterback problem needs to be fixed, and Peyton Manning may be the answer.

What do you think????

1 Comment to “Redskins QB Quandary: Should the Skins Pursue Peyton?”

  • Phil D. January 31, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    For the most part, I agree with everything you have said about the possibility of Peyton Manning becoming a Washington Redskin.

    If I were the GM of the Redskins, here would be my desired plans:

    Plan A: Attempt to trade up w/ St. Louis and draft Robert Griffin III. Assuming Grossman/Beck are not retained, I would also sign a veteran QB to back Griffin up in case he was not ready to start Week 1 (Maybe someone on the level of Shaun Hill or Chad Henne)

    Plan B: If they decide that trading up for RG3 would be too steep a price, I would draft a QB either in the 2nd or 3rd rd that would be able to sit and learn behind an experienced QB for 2-3 years, if necessary (i.e. Tannehill, Foles, Osweiler). Maybe that experienced QB is Peyton Manning…or maybe someone like Kyle Orton.

    Plan C: Sign Matt Flynn (Although Flynn has looked good in his 2 starts, he is still an unproven player). If he left Green Bay, he would not only be leaving a system he has been in for 4 years, but he would be leaving behind one of the best receiving corps in the league (A receiving corps on which no Redskin would crack the starting lineup).

    But as you have mentioned, “the quarterback problem needs to be fixed.”

    After witnessing the collective season Grossman/Beck had last season, there is no question the Redskins need a massive upgrade at starting quarterback. (I think they could use an upgrade at the backup QB position as well).

    As you also mentioned, “it’s good to have options.” And with the 6th pick in the draft, the Redskins have plenty of options. I believe (like many people) that Robert Griffin III will go #2 in April’s NFL Draft. I could see a bunch of QB needy teams (either Was, Cle, Mia, or Sea) trade up with St. Louis to land him.

    So the 2 questions for the Redskins is:
    1) “Do they believe RG3 is a franchise QB?”
    2) “Do they have what it takes to takes to trade up to #2?”

    I would answer yes to the first question, and possibly to the 2nd. The Skins have enough firepower to trade up #2 (maybe 2 first round picks + either a 2nd/3rd as well). However, the Browns (with 2 first round picks this year) not only have more ammunition in this year’s draft, but their pick is also 2 spots higher than Washington’s. Therefore, if the Rams were to trade from #2 to #4, they have a greater chance of landing one of the top guys on their draft board. If they were to move down from #2 to #6, that may not be the case.

    So for the purposes of the discussion, “Should the Skins Pursue Peyton,” I say…possibly.
    The biggest question mark w/ Peyton Manning is his health. Numerous reports have suggested that Peyton Manning’s neck may never allow him to play at the level he once played.

    Another question is “When would Peyton sign with a team?” Would he sign in March when free agency begins, or would it be in sometime during July/August (when Brett Favre joined the Jets/Vikings).

    If Peyton’s health allows him to sign with a team in March, the Redskins will probably have to make a decision on him before they will know whether or not RG3 would be available to them in April’s draft.

    What do you do then? Do you sign Peyton? Would you still trade up for RG3? What if RG3 somehow falls to #6? Do you draft him as well?

    But if April’s draft comes and goes and another team makes a move for RG3 and the Redskins end up drafting Ryan Tannehill (who has only played QB for about 1.5 years), I would not have an issue if the team decided to bring in Peyton Manning (assuming his health is not a question).

    But if health is not a question, then you have the issues of:

    1) Would the coaching staff tailor the offense to Peyton’s strengths? In Indy, Peyton had an OC, but he was running the show for the most part. Would Mike (or Kyle) be happy with the role they would have on offense if Peyton does become a Redskin?

    2) Does Peyton even want to come here? (I think Peyton would want to go to a team that would have a chance to win a Super Bowl in the next couple years. Teams like the Jets/Cardinals or even surprise teams like the Niners/Ravens would give him a better shot to win a championship than he would have here in DC.

    However, personally, I would rather sign a guy like Kyle Orton or Chad Henne and do all that I could to land Robert Griffin III in April’s draft. The dude is special. If you didn’t see the game against Oklahoma or TCU, just go watch the highlights. The guy is a playmaker.

    It will definitely be interesting to see what plays out. I think the one thing we can say is that the QB situation will look entirely different in 2012.

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