- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2008

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. | Quarterback Jason Campbell has spent the bulk of his four years with the Washington Redskins adjusting. He’s learning his third offense, this one coach Jim Zorn’s, and must acclimate himself with another offensive coordinator, this time Sherman Smith.

Peyton Manning can’t relate. Continuity has contributed to the Indianapolis Colts‘ quarterback developing into an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time NFL MVP.

Clearly, Manning has the physical tools and mental wherewithal. But the team has maximized each by aligning its most important and indispensable player with the same offensive coordinator (Tom Moore) and offensive line coach (Howard Mudd) since it selected him with the first overall pick in the 1998 draft. Moreover, Jim Caldwell has been Manning’s hands-on position coach since 2002, the same year the team hired coach Tony Dungy.

“It’s pretty rare,” said Manning, who has missed the Colts’ training camp thus far while recovering from July 14 surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee. “Tom and I have worked well together these past 10 years, and of course having Howard here has been a great asset for me.”

The byproduct has been 11 years of growth.

“It’s 11 years older,” Moore said of the offense. “There’s been an evolution. The base foundation is set, but it evolves over the course of time.”

Manning has had a firm grasp of Moore’s offense from that first minicamp session during the 1998 offseason. But since then, he has done more and more with it.

Now, Manning and Moore share such a synergy that Manning is given virtual free rein to make any necessary changes at the line of scrimmage. More times than not, those pre-snap gyrations have a purpose.

“I think it kind of goes together,” Manning said of his long relationship with Moore. “When your coordinator calls good plays, hopefully the quarterback should be able execute those plays and look pretty good. Therefore they decide to keep the coordinator and they decide to keep the quarterback.”

Not a difficult decision for the Colts. In large part because of Manning’s presence and Moore’s efficient offense, they’ve reached the playoffs in eight of the past nine seasons and won Super Bowl XLI. The offense has ranked fifth or better in scoring and total yards eight times since 1998.

Since the arrival of Dungy and Caldwell in 2002, Manning has improved even more.

During that 96-game stretch, he has compiled a 101.5 passer rating by completing 66.4 percent of his passes with 195 touchdowns and 72 interceptions. The Colts are 73-23.

“I think it helps all of us, but it definitely helps the quarterback,” Dungy said of Indy’s offensive continuity. “You see some very, very good players come into the league and have struggled as they’re going through and trying to find their niche with what exactly their system’s going to be. Peyton’s had the same system, and it’s helped him grow and you see what happens.”



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