QB-PEYTON MANNING (on the New England Patriots) * *
"It's going to be a great test for us. We all know that. They're playing really good football. They've got some different guys, but I think everybody wants to say, 'Oh, tell me how different they are. Is there a drop off here or there?' You just don't see it. They've had different guys through the years, and they've picked right up where the great player before them left off. You can tell the older players that were there, that are no longer there, have taught these young guys a lot, and they've been good mentors to them. You can tell these guys have learned from those guys. It will be a really tough test for us."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on why the Colts have been throwing so much)
"It's kind of game-to-game. I really feel like it's kind of what the defense might be presenting to us. Obviously, you see certain matchups, at certain times that you like, and you want to take advantage of them. It would be hard for me to say that was kind of our plan going into the game. I think the plan going into the game is to try to be balanced, and certain games take on different identities based on what the defense is doing. I still think that our core offensive philosophy is the same, to try to be balanced. When I say balanced, I mean on first down can you run the ball, can you drop back and pass, can you run the play-action. I feel like that's pretty true. Certainly, in the past two games, we have thrown a little bit more because of the identity of that game, I feel like."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on if there is a risk in throwing too much)
"Yes, there certainly is. Obviously, running the ball probably is always a safer play. You feel like it's a safer chance of securing the ball and maintaining the ball at the end of the play. I do think that it is important to have some balance. You do not want a defensive line on every single down just teeing off and trying to stop the pass because they know it's going to be a pass. You want them to be playing all three different phases every single snap, even on third down. We want to be able to run the ball some on third down. I think it's always important to try to have balance, or at least have the threat that you're going to run the ball."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on the Colts-Patriots series)
"It's kind of hard to speak for what has happened in the past because you don't know if that will repeat itself again this year. The one thing you can say is that both times the teams have met they've been pretty good teams. It's definitely the case this year. They're a good team, again. They seem to be playing well in all phases and hitting on all cylinders. It will be, I think, our toughest test of the season. But that's not what we're thinking about, as far as what's going to happen down the road. We're thinking about what is going to happen on Sunday. It's an AFC game. It's a home game. It's the first game of the third quarter, as we kind of break the season down. All those reasons, alone, are enough to make you want to win the game."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on if he talked to QB-Tom Brady while he was doing his knee rehab)
"My injury is completely different than his. He had major, major reconstructive surgery. The guy he should be compared to, or should have talked to, would be (Cincinnati Bengals' QB) Carson Palmer. I mean months and months of rehab. I mean mine was a unique type deal, but I just can't relate to the injury that he had. We did talk a little bit when he was dealing with the infection. There were some similarities there, but not quite as much similarity as you'd think. His was a different deal. What he's been able to do coming back this year, we've seen film of the Patriots playing other defenses, and you can't tell that he missed last year with major knee surgery. He picked right up where he left off the year before."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on him understanding what QB-Tom Brady is going through because it took him some time to get comfortable again)
"Like I said, I really can't relate. I think the only guy that can relate probably would be (Cincinnati Bengals' QB-Carson) Palmer. He's the one that I think of. (Philadelphia Eagles' QB-Donovan) McNabb has had some pretty major injuries. To miss an entire season, I can't relate to what I'm sure that felt like for him. He sure seems to have handled it pretty smoothly."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on the Colts' offense doing well despite some new faces)
"I think there are some similarities from their defense and our offense, in that there are new faces on both sides. The goal is to try and have the same results. It's the same system. We do have a lot of young guys. I don't know, I can't get into comparisons of other offenses in other years here. But this has been a different type of year because we've had new guys, and you are kind of going through some of the basic fundamentals of your offense. I think maybe in some ways that has made the older players better, kind of reminding all of us the little intrinsic fundamentals that you need to focus on to be a successful offense. Their offense through the years has shown that they can do that. They've plugged different guys in through the years, they've got (WR-Randy) Moss and WR-Wes) Welker, but WR-Deion Branch through the years. I think as long as the veteran players are doing their job, you can help bring these younger players along."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on completing 70% of his passes)
"I just don't get into the first half summaries, I guess, of a season. I appreciate the effort that our receivers are making to get open. They're doing good things with the ball after the catch. A lot of those passes, you look at the game against Houston, there are a lot of short passes, I mean high percentage passes, but we're calling those thinking those could turn into big plays. TE-Dallas (Clark) and WR-Reggie (Wayne) and WR-Austin (Collie) and WR-Pierre (Garcon), those guys do a good job with the ball once they get it into their hands, of course (RB-Joseph) Addai and (RB-Donald) Brown do as well. Those guys are all working hard. This is a long season. This will be a good test for our young guys. They will see some things they haven't seen this year. They know that. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the challenge."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on if New England always comes up with a new wrinkle when they play the Colts)
"I don't know. I guess sometimes they do. I can't say it's 100 percent that they do. I think they are sound in the things that they do, week-in and week-out. They play at times very basic, fundamental defense and play it well. All teams can always have a new little wrinkle. You have time during the week to add a new defense, just like we add new plays on offense. So, you're always kind of prepared for what you see on film, but prepared to adjust to something that might be different. The one thing they do, do more than other teams, is they do play different personnels on defense. I mean they play a 3-4, a 4-3, different substitutions, not that they're the only team that does that, Baltimore does that, San Diego does that, other teams do that. But I'd say New England probably substitutes different personnel packages as much as most other teams."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on if he admires New England for being able to stay an upper echelon team just like the Colts)
"Absolutely. It's a credit to a lot of those veteran players that have been there. The players that are no longer there had a big influence on these young guys. Obviously, they've had the same coach there for all these years, and he's done a heck of a job getting all these guys ready to play. Their whole staff has."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on TE-Dallas Clark)
"Dallas has never been under-appreciated around here. I think he knows that. Certainly, he put on a clinic the other night against Houston, just short routes, intermediate routes, a couple of deep routes, a critical seam route down there, probably the biggest play of the game into tight coverage, he knew he was going to take a hit. Those are the kinds of things he's been doing all year. You've seen the way New England has played us the past couple of years, you can just tell by certain defenses that they're cognizant of Dallas. Obviously, we have to find ways to get him the ball, but other guys have to be ready to step up, as well, knowing that he may get a little more attention. That means somebody else might be isolated in one-on-one coverage. That guy has got to win the matchup. We certainly have to find different ways to get him the ball."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on his level of confidence in the running game)
"We're confident every single week going in. I think the one good thing about throwing on third down is that it makes defenses maybe be a little unsure about what you're going to do. Everybody thinks third-and-one means you have to run, they pile on the run, and we have gone down the field a couple of times, which is not a bad time to do that. This week, what we'll do, like I said, is a little bit unknown, which I think hopefully can turn into a positive and have a defense maybe somewhat guessing. Obviously, we want to run the ball well every single week and feel that we can run the ball. It's important against these guys to try to have a productive running game. I think they're good against the run. Statistically, I don't know if the numbers back it up, but I think they're good against the run. We definitely want to try to be balanced."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on the play calling not being a reflection on a lack of confidence in the run game)
"I certainly don't feel that way. I feel our play calls are based on the way we feel like we can have a productive play. Like I said, whether we run it on third down, or we drop back and pass on first down, that's just the best play at that particular time. That's kind of what our philosophy has been."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on his conversation with Bill Belichick at the 2006 Pro Bowl)
"Hopefully, I didn't tell him too much. I felt like we probably had a long conversation, but both of us probably told a bunch of lies to each guy, trying to keep our guards up a little bit. I enjoyed that week. I've had a chance to play in that game and get coached by different coaches, a different coach each time I played in it. I got a chance to be around him, got a chance to be around (Denver Broncos head coach) Josh McDaniels. I can see why he's doing such a great job in Denver. But being around that New England staff you can see why (they've been successful). They're all excellent coaches, and you certainly see why Belichick is one of the best."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on how much credit Colts head coach Jim Caldwell should receive for the Colts start)
"It's probably not for me to answer. We know how we feel about him in this locker room. I feel like we're responding to his coaching. I think we're getting to know him. I knew him as my quarterbacks coach the past several years, but I'm getting to know him as a head coach and the things he's about and what his fundamentals and principles are as a head coach. I think he's getting to know our players, as well. I guess he knew me pretty well, but he's getting to know our defensive players. I think there is a process there when you have a new head coach."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on the comfort of the new coach coming from within the organization and not from someplace else)
"To say that things have been exactly the same, I think that's almost impossible. There are some things that are the same when (former head coach Tony) Dungy was here, but when you have a new head coach, you have a different guy speaking to you everyday, you have a different guy setting the schedule, deciding what the practice itinerary is going to be, there is always some newness there and some change. You learn to adjust. Like I said, we know how he's been in mini-camp, training camp, and the first half of the season. Now it'll be a learning process to see what he's like in the second half of the season, as well."