Manning will be Driven Again in 2008, Dungy Says
PALM BEACH, Fla. - One thing about which Tony Dungy doesn't much worry is complacency from his quarterback.
Peyton Manning is well-known for his drive.
He's among the NFL's best players.
And among its most focused.
Dungy, entering his seventh season as the Colts' head coach, said on Tuesday although motivation never has been an issue for Manning – the team's eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback – it likely will be even less so after the events of this past February.
That was when Manning's younger brother, Eli, quarterbacked the New York Giants to a victory in Super Bowl XLII twelve months after Peyton quarterbacked the Colts to a victory over Chicago in Super Bowl XLI.
"He has that drive now to make sure Eli doesn't get two before he gets two," Dungy said with a smile during the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the 2008 NFL Owners meetings, being held this week at The Breakers in Palm Beach.
"I sense he's not going to let that happen. He never is (satisfied). I think he really wanted Eli to win, but now that Eli has one and he has one, he really doesn't want Eli to win the next one before he wins his."
Dungy said he and Manning typically speak early each off-season, a meeting at which Manning – the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 2003 and 2004 – usually has a specific area he wants to improve upon before the following season.
This season's talk focused on complacency, and specifically, avoiding it.
The Colts have made the playoffs in each of Dungy's six seasons. They have won the AFC South the last five seasons, doing so last season with a 13-3 record, their NFL-record fifth consecutive season with 12 or more victories.
"We had one long conversation," Dungy said. "He hasn't given me his eight things he wants to do better, but we did talk about where we're going and what we need to do and how this year might be a little different. The thing we talked about was how to keep going even though it's kind of the same thing – not get bored and not try to reinvent the wheel, but keep progressing.
"That's going to be his challenge. We talked about that, so he's going to kind of digest that a little bit, then come back with his suggestions of how we want to do it."
Manning has played 10 seasons in Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore's system. As such, Dungy said Manning knows the system so well he sometimes must resist changing for change's sake.
"That's something he has to fight," Dungy said. "He processes information so fast and so well and he does look at every game. If we play a team at the end of the year, he looks at all 16 games. He's looking for that one little edge and what he really has to do is fight that urge of, 'We've got to do something different and something new.' That's a constant thing with him because he is so smart and he can process information at a faster rate than 99 percent of the people in our building."
The off-season, during which Manning often works with younger players, is therefore a productive time, Dungy said.
"I think that does help him,'' Dungy said. "(Manning takes the approach of), 'Hey, I've got to take (wide receiver) Reggie Wayne through this progression. I've got take (wide receiver Anthony) Gonzalez through this. I've got to take (tight end) Dallas (Clark). I've got take (running back) Joseph (Addai) through this. Those are things he relishes and it's probably good for him and us."
NEVER SAY NEVER: Manning was a major topic in Dungy's conversation with the media Tuesday morning, with one writer asking about Manning's chances of breaking the record for consecutive games started by a quarterback. Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who recently retired, currently hold the record at 253.
Manning has started 160 consecutive regular-season games.
"It's just such a phenomenal thing you'd think you wouldn't see it, but if anybody can do it, he's the guy," Dungy said.
AN ISSUE OF CONSISTENCY: One reason for the Colts' success in recent seasons, Dungy said, is a remarkable level of consistency on the coaching and personnel staff.
Colts President Bill Polian is entering his 11th season with the organization. Dungy is entering his seventh season with the team, and nine assistants are entering at least their seventh consecutive season with Indianapolis.
"We've had very few changes in coaching and very few changes among the scouts," Dungy said. "I think that really has been imant for us. Our guys (scouts) on the road, when they see a player, they have an idea of how he fits for us. When they recommend a guy and get us a tape and say, 'Hey, you need to take a look at this guy because he fits what we do,' we have great confidence that it's true.
"(Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer) Jim (Irsay) has created a nice place to work. We've had guys who have turned down promotions from position coaches to coordinators. (Associate Head Coach) Jim Caldwell took himself out of a couple of head coaching searches. It doesn't happen that much.
"That continuity has definitely helped us. No question."
CONFIDENCE HIGH: Dungy said he believes wide receiver Marvin Harrison will be fully ready next season.
Harrison, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, missed the last 10 regular-season games last season with a knee injury. He returned for the team's 28-24 loss to San Diego in a Division Playoff game.
"I think Marvin's going to be fine," Dungy said. "That's what we're hoping for. We'll see. It was kind of strange last year. It was every couple of weeks, 'he should be ready to go,' and it didn't happen. My sense is with an off-season, he'll be good to go."