Opponent Opinions: QB Peyton Manning

The Dolphins used to have to face Peyton Manning twice a year until the Indianapolis Colts moved to the AFC South Division starting with the 2002 season. But Monday night Manning returns to South Florida, the site of his one Super Bowl victory. Manning touched on a variety of subjects this week when he talked with South Florida reporters.

Here is the transcript of Manning's conference call:

On preparing for Joey Porter and Jason Taylor with them being a part of the same team: "It's a great challenge to our entire offense. It starts with the run game, getting those guys [going]. Especially in the passing game, those guys have established themselves in their careers as outstanding pass rushers. Like I said, it use to be have one on one side and one another and focus on one of them, now you have one on each side so both sides have to be on their toes at all time, be ready for those two guys. It will be a real challenge to our offense."

On the adjustment he has had to make without having Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy this year: "I think it will be season long. I played with Marvin every single year, he was injured these past couple of years, but for nine years straight he was always the number one receiver, always out there on the right. Then Coach Dungy has been the head coach here for a number of years. So I don't think you can rush the change there. I think that things have to happen along the way that you adjust to. Reggie [Wayne] certainly has been a number one receiver for a couple of years here and we kind of had two number ones. You saw the way he played in the first game. He has been a focal point of this offense the past few years, he will continue to be and he played the way we certainly expected him to play. Coach Caldwell, I think the entire team is adjusting to him and I think it will kind of take the entire season as we get to know him, see what he is all about. Obviously when you have a new person, something needs to happen to learn something about him. I guess a few crucial fourth down situations, some he went for and some he decided to punt. Those type of situations have to happen. Do you go for two here? Do you call for a fake kick or whatever it may be? Those are the type of things our team is learning about as a head coach. I feel like I know him very well as my quarterbacks coach, but now that he is the head coach, like all the other players on the team, I am trying to get to know him. He is extremely detailed, extremely hard worker. We are working as hard as we can work for him."

On if this is now a new chapter in his own career: "Absolutely. I feel like the biggest change I have had in my career. I have a new head coach and a number of new receivers besides Reggie [Wayne]. Of course [Anthony] Gonzalez in the game so these guys got even newer, if you will, with some of the guys that are going to be in. We have put a lot of time in the offseason working with these guys, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie who we drafted, Donald Brown at running back. We have put a lot of time and effort into it and we will continue to because these guys are young players and they will continue to learn throughout the season so I try to do my part to bring them as much up to speed as I can."

On rookie cornerbacks Sean Smith and Vontae Davis: They are both excellent talents, high picks [being] a first round pick and a second round pick. You can tell there is a lot ability there and obviously there are not a lot of plays on tapes to study. You study them in the preseason and you study their game vs Atlanta but there is some unknown there because they are new players. The two of them seem to be in a rotation and obviously they have an excellent veteran in [Will] Allen on the other side. I am sure those guys have learned a lot from him. It is a great way for a young player to learn from to have a true veteran on the other side, but you see a lot of ability in both guys. It will take accurate throws; it will take good routes and see how they match up. You know if you keep those guys on the same rotation or move them around. I think a lot of times in these first games, even though they have played that one game, like that first game vs. Jacksonville, there is still some of that unknown. You prepare for some things you may get but adjust to certain things once the game actually arrives."

On how big the play action pass has been to his success and at what point did he really start to understand its' importance: "It certainly been a part of this offense since the time I have been here. We have always tried to be a balanced offense, trying to run the ball well, trying to pass well and then run the play action. So it is kind of the three phases of our offense. Hopefully we can try to do all three of them well. Probably not so much my dad, my dad certainly helped me when I was growing up or when I asked him for help, but he never was my coach. He never wanted to be that type of father who pushed me or told me ‘this is how I want you to do things'. I had my coaches and he was always there as a resource for me, I certainly had a lot of questions for him. I guess when I really learned the importance of it and what kind of weapon it could be was probably in college. David Cutcliffe, my offensive coordinator [at Tennessee) really talked to me about taking pride in your fakes. If 10 guys are doing something on the run play, you should be doing something too, maybe carrying out your fakes. Try to hold the defender on the backside, see if they have the ball. That is going to set up some good pass plays for you when you actually do have the ball, just about taking pride. Then when I got to the Colts, Bruce Arians who you know now as the coordinator for the Steelers was my quarterbacks coach, he really, he and I really spent a lot of time trying to make the run and the pass look the exact same. Studied a lot of tape of some quarterbacks; Boomer Esiason, Steve DeBerg, who were really excellent, Dave Krieg, excellent play action guys. So those two guys really had a big influence on me."

On Dallas Clark's importance to the offense: "Anytime, certainly it is not a secret you have injuries and I am sure Chad [Pennington] can attest to this in his career with different guys he has played with, you tend to lean on your veterans a little more. I am disappointed about [Anthony] Gonzalez's injury, he worked hard and hopefully he will get back soon. Like I said, until he does these young guys have to step up. There is no question that Reggie [Wayne] and Dallas Clark will be important parts of our offense. At the same time, this is the NFL. You may draw a certain play up to get the ball to Reggie or Dallas, but the defense presents different looks [as] you cannot predict what the defense is going to do. [Pierre] Garson and [Austin] Collie have to be ready at all times. I have no qualms about throwing them a critical third down or deep pass or whatever it may be. Everybody has to be grown up when it comes to playing in the NFL."

On Monday Night Football being as close to an atmosphere of a playoff game as there is and if you get a little more excited for it: "I certainly think so. We have a very very young football team. There is a lot of rookies that are playing and it is still Monday Night Football is still special. I agree with Chad [Pennington] that you are the only game being played at that time. I think everyone wants to play well. Each team wants to win on Monday Night and we know what kind of tough environment it is going to be being Miami first home game. The crowd is going to be into it and they are a very excellent team so it is going to be a challenge. I know a lot of our players will be excited to play it that kind of atmosphere."

On playing against former Dolphin Zach Thomas: "He was outstanding. I always thought Zach, of course being back in the AFC East days playing them twice a year, we have still played him a couple of times since switching positions, I can't tell you how many times he was just, by film study or by instinct, he was just calling out ‘watch the screen, watch the screen' and I am going ‘we would never run a screen out of this formation, how does he know it is a screen' and I'd have to call timeout or something. Felt like he knew our plays, even when we were running a play for the very first time. I have gotten to know Zach through the years; I could tell the more I got to know him and how seriously he approaches the cerebral part of the game. The film study he did and of course being a guy who likes to do a lot of that myself, I had a real appreciation for what he did on the defensive side of the ball, just studying tendencies and studying stances. Coming into the NFL, he was the top middle linebacker I played against as I started my career. Always gave us fits, always gave us trouble. Truly one of the top middle linebackers in my opinion."

On the University of Tennessee football program: "It is somewhat similar to what we are going through here, with change. They are going through change there and that is a part of it in sports today as we know it. It has been a change. They had a tough loss. I was able to go to their opening game, but they had a tough loss last week so I know they are concentrating on getting some things corrected. I know it is a tough week trying to get things corrected playing Florida, especially the way they are playing so far this year and past couple of years. I know the players have worked real hard and I have gotten to know Coach Kiffin since he has been hired. Obviously I played for Coach Fulmer and he and I had a close relationship for a long long time. It is always different when you have played for a guy; there is always that bond there. I am Tennessee Vol thick and thin. I am pulling for Coach Kiffin and his staff to do a good job."

On if the quarterback calling their own plays is a lost art and what he enjoys about having that ability: "It is probably a lost art because you have so many new coordinators around and different quarterbacks. Tom Moore and I have been together for 12 years now so he and I have a good rapport and have a good feel for one another. Tom still calls the plays. I call some of my own plays. I have the flexibility to change plays, but basically what me and Tom have talked about during the week. I don't think I have ever really called a play on my own that has surprised him. We talk about things. He tells me ‘Hey if you see something, go with it, Ill back ya and support you'. That has come over time, his trust. Like I said, most of the time when he is calling the play I have a good idea of what is coming in before he calls it. I think it has developed over the fact that we have been together for 12 years; that is a lot of games, a lot of practices together. But it still comes down to execution. The players have to go out and execute the plays."

On Pierre Garcon and what he can contribute to the offense: "I know he is a South Florida guy so he needs to get a bunch of tickets for this game. I know he will be excited. I think Pierre used his year last year to his advantage, kind of treated it as a red-shirt year. I think he learned and this year with the loss of Marvin and now that [Anthony Gonzalez is hurt] he will be playing a bunch. I know he is excited about the opportunity. He is athletic. He is a strong, physical guy. I know he has good speed. I am looking forward to seeing how he responds and performs under the lights. He has worked really hard this off season; I am really impressed with his work ethic."

On Joseph Addai being back to where he was a few years ago: "I certainly hope so. He never was 100% last year even though he played through a lot of injuries. He says he feels good and we certainly hope to get him back to kind of back to that old form. Everyone else has to do their own part. I think Donald Brown will help spell him to help keep them both fresh and healthy so our running game can be effective."

On if this Dolphins defense compares to any other defense in the league: "I think because of their personnel they are somewhat unique. What [Jason] Taylor and [Joey] Porter allow them to do from a pass rush standpoint and coverage standpoint, they are confident in [their ability] that allows them to play some different coverages. It is a 3-4 defense with some 4-down variations. Some other teams do that, but I think all defenses are unique based on the personnel. I think those two guys kind of make things go."

On the Wildcat and if it something that will be around the NFL for a while: "I'm really not sure. The Dolphins certainly run it as well as anyone. I got to spend some time with [Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning] this offseason, I think it is just a credit to him for using the players that he has. I think that is what Tom Moore's offense is based on. You call plays based on the players you have and when you have a weapon like Ronnie Brown who is such an outstanding player, I think it is smart for them to use them in different ways. I know our defense will have their hands full running that part of their offense."

On his interactions with Dan Henning: "We weren't talking about their offense or anything. Coach Henning has been around a long time like Tom Moore has. The guys that last a long time as coordinators in this league are the guys that realize that play calling is about using the weapons and players that you have. The Dolphins do a great job of that and that is kind of what I meant by that."

On the last time being in Land Shark Stadium was for his Super Bowl victory and what it will be like to return to the stadium where that took place: "It is hard to compare. You are playing the Dolphins in their home stadium and it is a whole different feel. Certainly that was a special night for me and all the players, something they should never [forget]. More so when you stop playing, your old and kind of thinking about the good ole' days. We are right in the middle of football season trying to worry about how to get open against a Dolphins defense on the road, on a Monday night, in their first home game. It is hard to think about anything else but that."


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