The Sorgi Situation: Part One

Ever since Jim Sorgi joined the Colts in 2004 and cemented himself as Peyton Manning's backup, Colts fans have been looking for something better. Is there a better option out there? Part One takes a look at what Sorgi brings to the table. The results may surprise you.

Peyton Manning is a future Hall of Fame quarterback that has proven himself statistically, as a winner, in the regular season, in the postseason, and by basically every barometer that is used to measure quality and durability at the position.  Being his backup is no easy task, as Jim Sorgi has discovered. But is Sorgi really that bad, or does he just look that much worse by comparison?

Here's how he stacks up against Manning.


Sorgi definitely looks the part standing next to Manning, as he stands 6-feet-5 and Manning is a shade under 6-feet-6. Where he falls short — and where there would be concerns about his durability over the course of a 16 game season — is the question of bulk.

Manning tips the scales at 230 pounds, considerably bulkier and more powerfully built than Sorgi at 196.  The fact that he does not have as formidable a presence behind center makes Sorgi appear uncomfortable and out of place.


Sorgi shows poise in the pocket and avoids sacks
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This is actually where Sorgi holds a slight edge over Manning.  Manning's footwork, though it has served him well, leaves a lot to be desired.  He has a tendency to dance and shift his weight and does not always put himself in the best position to throw the ball. While this has long been an issue for Manning — dating back to his college days — the fact is he is also able to use his "happy feet" to his advantage by avoiding pressure in the pocket and overcoming his lack of overall speed. He also compensates for this with his arm strength and his throwing motion, where he clearly beats Sorgi.

However, Sorgi is generally more composed in the pocket, shows little wasted motion, and is always in a good position to plant and throw.  He obviously spent a lot of quality time with Jim Caldwell working on his mechanics and it shows when he has been given the opportunity to take meaningful snaps.

Arm Strength:

Manning blows Sorgi away here.  Not only can Manning deliver the ball to all areas of the field with velocity, he can also put a great deal of air under the ball and push it down the field.

One of the overlooked aspects of Manning's game is his tremendous athletic ability, which most analysts eschew discussion of in favor of talking about his grasp of the game and the offense.

Sorgi struggles to make all the throws and is not a guy that can squeeze the ball into tight spaces.  He makes up for these shortcomings with touch and accuracy, but there are just some situations where you need to get the ball to a spot in a hurry and Sorgi does not possess that kind of arm.


Although Sorgi has seen limited action during the regular season and Manning has amassed some of the most impressive statistics of any quarterback in NFL history during his 11 seasons, there are some interesting parallels. 

Sorgi's quick release and grasp of the system he's operating in has allowed him to be sacked only once every 26 times he drops back to pass, as opposed to once every 29.1 times for Manning.

Tony Dungy understood that sacks can ruin an offensive drive and made pressuring the quarterback a key aspect of his defensive philosophy. It's good to know that Sorgi is almost as adept as Manning at not taking a critical sack.

Add in the fact that Sorgi was usually in the game with fellow backups against the other team's starters and that he rarely caught the opposition off guard with his pass attempts and it makes his ability to stay upright that much more impressive.

Along the lines of not making critical mistakes, Sorgi has thrown only one interception in 156 career attempts for a stellar 0.6 percent interception percentage.  Manning's career mark of 2.8 percent is far superior, given the vast difference in total attempts, but the fact remains that Sorgi does not tend to turn the ball over, which is a valuable trait in a backup.

The statistical similarities end, though, when the discussion moves from not losing the game to going out and winning it.  Sorgi does not author many big plays, as evidenced by the fact that he has only seven completions of 20 or more yards and two completions of 40 or more yards (4.5 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively).

Manning has 559 completions of 20 yards or more and 100 completions of 40 yards or more (9.3 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively).  As far as touchdown percentage is concerned, Manning has a sizeable 5.6 percent to 3.8 percent edge.

Quarterback rating, though, is considerably closer, as Manning has a 94.7 career mark and Sorgi's career rating is 89.9.

At the End of the Day:

This statement should come as no surprise to any Colts fan: The Indianapolis offense would change dramatically should anything happen to Peyton Manning.

His grasp of the offense, understanding of the game, and physical ability are unrivaled in the league.  Even if another prominent quarterback were to step into the spotlight, the offense would change.

The bottom line is that the person with the second-best qualifications to run the offense is currently on the roster.  The offense would become more conservative, no doubt, and Sorgi would not be given the same freedoms that Manning enjoys, but the fact remains that Sorgi would do a fine job of running a stripped down version of the system and do his best to not lose the game.

Manning won the MVP in 2008 because he proved that he has the ability to go out and win games when the odds are stacked against him.  Can Sorgi do that?  Well, he doesn't have the MVP trophies and accolades to back it up, but he has also not been given the reins of the offense at any point.

The only way to tell for sure if a better option exists is to take a quarterback with superior measurables, mechanics, and arm strength, teach him the system, and track the results.  Does such a player exist?  That's what we intend to answer in Part Two.

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