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News » Peyton facing uncertain future in Indy

Peyton facing uncertain future in Indy

Peyton facing uncertain future in Indy
KAPOLEI, Hawaii - This Pro Bowl is all about family.

Specifically, the NFL's first family.

For the first time in the all-star game's 59-year history, two brothers will be the starting quarterbacks for opposing teams as their proud parents watch from the Aloha Stadium stands.

Guys and goats

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"You hope everything works out for these guys as individuals with contracts and for the team. I really hope both are back."

Regardless, Manning knows he must deal with the dynamic of a new head coach for the first time since Dungy replaced Jim Mora in 2002.

Over the past seven seasons, Manning won his first Super Bowl, three NFL Most Valuable Player awards and six consecutive AFC South titles. He didn't want Dungy to leave.

When he received the news on a Mississippi deer-hunting trip in mid-January, Manning thought Dungy was calling to say he was staying after considering retirement. Unlike in 2007, no dice.

"I knew it was coming at some point, but I didn't think it would be this year," Manning said. "I really thought he was going to say, 'Let's get ready for next year.' I was a little surprised.

"We had a good conversation. We laughed about the special times and I thanked him. I'll always be indebted for what he did for my career and our team."

Manning also has a strong relationship with Caldwell, the former Wake Forrest head coach who joined the Colts as part of Dungy's first staff. Manning even says that Caldwell's understated style reminds him of Dungy.

"He's very patient and thorough in his preparation," Manning said. "He doesn't make rash decisions. He's very meticulous, which I like being somewhat the same guy, but he has a very quiet toughness to him.

"He's not going to be a yeller and screamer, but in his own way, is a very tough guy who's going to want things done his way. If you don't do that, he's going to pat you on the back as you're walking out the door. In his own way, he can be very quietly cold if he has to be."

Added Colts Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne: "It's going to be a different look. Hopefully, he can come in and keep everything going the way it was going. But he's the head coach. You can expect some changes."

That includes changes to Caldwell himself.

"I know what he was like for me as quarterbacks coach," Manning said. "He knew where he was on the ladder in the chain of command. He was never going to overstep (offensive coordinator) Tom Moore's boundaries. Now that he is the head coach, he has no boundaries. It's going to be an adjustment for me as well.

"The thing that's important for everybody to realize is that he's not an interim. It's not a one-year hiatus for coach Dungy and he's filling in. He's the head coach. I know coach Dungy has had an influence on him. But if this is going to work, he's got to do things his way."

Caldwell has no reason to tinker with Manning himself. The quarterback was the catalyst for the team's midseason surge, leading nine consecutive victories after an uncharacteristic 3-4 start.

Manning is staying in the presidential suite at the NFL's Pro Bowl hotel, a well-deserved privilege reserved for the MVP winner. He finished the season with 4,002 passing yards, a 66.8 completion percentage, 27 touchdown tosses and just 12 interceptions in 555 attempts.

It's scary to think the damage Manning could have inflicted were he healthy the entire season. But the effects of offseason knee surgery that lingered from training camp into October did have one positive effect.

"It was different for me to have to go through some rehab and miss practice," said Manning, who did keep his streak of 176 consecutive starts intact. "I'd never done that before. You never quite know how you're going to respond to that until you go through it.

"It was somewhat satisfying knowing I was able to get my rehab done and get back to the comfort zone I'm used to being in. I learned a little more about myself."

Manning is still struggling to consistently transfer his regular-season brilliance into the playoffs. His postseason record dropped to 7-8 after a 23-17 first-round overtime loss at San Diego. It was the second consecutive Colts season ended by the Chargers, who weren't exactly world-beaters as the second .500 division-winner in NFL history.

Manning said he can't point to a specific team shortcoming that led to the defeat. He did laud Chargers punter Mike Scifres, who landed six of his attempts inside the Indianapolis 20-yard line.

"It would be hard to summarize it as anything more than a game of football," lamented Manning, who completed 25 of 42 passes for 310 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. "It comes down to four or five plays. Either you make them or they do. They just made a few more than we did.

"It was disappointing because we did the things we wanted. We protected the ball. They turned it over and we didn't. We didn't anticipate their punter playing the way he did."

Manning doesn't know quite what to anticipate in 2009 either. But if the Colts can become one under Caldwell, the Manning family could be having another reunion in 2010 when the Pro Bowl moves to South Florida.

"What we can really take from this season is learning about the character of the guys we have," Manning said. "It was never easy being 9-0, 8-0, 13-0 (in previous years), but it sure was easier to come to work during those times. Food tastes better. Guys are in a better mood. Practice seems shorter. When you're 3-4, it's a grind. Guys aren't in as good a mood. Fans are getting antsy.

"But we did something about it. We kept working. We didn't have anybody jump ship, which is what you look for during that time. Who's going to still be doing the same things when we're 8-0? We found out we had the right kind of guys."

Even if some of them are no longer welcome in the Colts household.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 4, 2009

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