I hate speculation. It seems like a massive waste of time to pontificate about things that may or may not happen. Contingency plans based on a speculative premise seem like a logical fallacy.
Speculating as to whether or not Peyton Manning is going to be a free agent and where he might play if he is makes me want to roll on the ground and gouge my eyes out. I'd rather sit in the corner of a Howard Johnson's decorated in a Brady Bunch motif and pick scabs while watching a loop of Santonio Holmes' game winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLIII.
Worse than this would be to speculate on the kind of offense the Arizona Cardinals might run with Peyton as their QB -- provided he is healthy, gets cut from the Indianapolis Colts, has interest in the Arizona Cardinals, chooses the Arizona Cardinals over 27 other teams, signs a contract with the Arizona Cardinals and stays healthy for the next three or four years.
But…what the heck.
Peyton Manning's strength, ironically enough, has nothing to do with his nerve-damaged arm and everything to do with his understanding of the game. The impact of this fact can be seen in the efficiency of an offense and the points that offense produces with Manning under center.
That is a strategically grounded sentence; it says what Peyton Manning would do for the Cardinals' offense. How Peyton Manning would accomplish these assumptions is a tactical question?
The long and the short of it is this: a high tide floats all boats.
A healthy Peyton Manning is a gridiron tsunami. The best human being to ever play the position suddenly turns the anonymous into household names. There are few reasons why we should know the names of receivers Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and, some would say, tight end, Dallas Clarke. But football fans do know these names…well.
Peyton Manning makes receivers better. Provided they're able to adjust on the run, read defenses, and catch the ball, Manning will get them the ball. Even though Peyton has played with great skill like Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Edgerrin James, his ability to spread the ball around a football field and get his teammates involved is Kurt Warner-like.
Larry Fitzgerald's numbers would most likely exceed that of anything Harrison or Wayne ever put up. Teams would certainly try to take Larry away from Manning but would become even more vulnerable to attack from the other four eligible receivers on the field. It's a high-stakes game of pick your poison. Cover Fitzgerald with complex schemes and watch Peyton pick you apart with Todd Heap/Rob Housler in the slot, running the routes Dallas Clarke has for years. Harass Fitz all day, and watch Andre Roberts turn into Austin Collie. Many times, defenses that choose the poison of Fitzgerald will find themselves scrambling to make adjustments, roll the dice and single Fitz up more in an effort to mitigate the collateral damage occurring to the scoreboard. Single Fitz up and Manning will find him. Just ask Marvin Harrison.
Peyton Manning makes the entire offense better, including offensive linemen. Although it's a definite Peyton perk, forget about commanding the huddle and the impact Manning's field-cred would have on the focus, effort and intensity level of the guys in front of him.