If Sidney Rice is wearing a jersey number other than his customary #18 next season, then I will be a happy Seahawks fan, because if Rice's jersey number is not #18, then it means that the Seattle Seahawks will have a new #18, the future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. I'm sure that Sidney would not mind the uniform change if it meant catching passes from Peyton Manning.
Seeing arguably the smartest quarterback of all time in Seahawks blue could do wonders for the Hawks offense.
The Seahawks' tight ends were basically nonexistent last season in the passing game. Zach Miller spent a majority of his snaps staying on the line of scrimmage and blocking to help the offensive line in protection. Before the 2011 season, Pete Carroll said that Miller would be a big part of the offense. Then, Miller had a disappointing zero touchdowns and only 233 receiving yards.
One thing that makes Peyton Manning special is his ability to make quick decisions and get rid of the ball. This mostly negates questions about the Seahawks' young offensive line, especially with the anchor on the left, the blind side, being potentially elite Russell Okung. The quick passing game of Manning is sure to make Miller more of a threat in the Seahawks offense because he won't be as necessary in pass protection on the line. In Indianapolis, one of Manning's preferred weapons was tight end Dallas Clark. Peyton very often looked Clark's way and Clark became a perennial Pro Bowler. In 2009, Clark had 1,106 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. I doubt that Zach Miller could post numbers like that, but Miller could certainly become the big piece of the offense that Pete Carroll envisioned when Miller was signed in 2011. I would imagine that with Peyton Manning, Zach Miller would return to his former Pro Bowl self - a guy that caught 50+ passes the previous three seasons, and become more of a threat in the passing game.
Another Seahawk that could blossom with the arrival of Peyton Manning is Mike Williams. At 6'5" and 235 lbs., Williams is certainly not the fastest guy at receiver, but he is one of the largest. Because of his distinct size advantage, Williams relies on the quarterback to get him the football. He essentially plays basketball on the football field by boxing out the defender and using his length to get open. Last season, it seemed as if Tarvaris Jackson was hesitant to throw the ball to Williams through this narrow window. That might explain (along with injuries) the drastic dropoff from Williams' production in 2010 at 751 yards receiving to only 236 yards in 2011. Remember how fantastic Mike Williams looked in 2010 with Matt Hasselbeck at QB? Imagine Mike Williams with Peyton Manning at the helm in 2012.
Not only would Sidney Rice wear a new number with Peyton in town, but he might also look like a whole new player. Brett Favre helped Sidney Rice post insane numbers in 2009 with 1,312 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. It's obvious that Rice has exceptional talent and he showed glimpses of that last season by posting a couple of 100+ yard receving games, but with an elite QB like Manning, Rice can be an elite wide receiver.
With the Seahawks fresh off inking 25-year-old Marshawn Lynch to a four-year contract, the Hawks running game is virtually set for the next four years. The Seahawks have "Beast Mode" locked up for what will hopefully be his prime years as a running back in the NFL. Add Manning to that mix, and the Seahawks could have a potent air and ground attack on offense.
A number of people have said that Pete Carroll and Peyton Manning cannot coexist. There couldn't be anything more inaccurate than that. What is Pete Carroll's mantra? "Win Forever". Do you think Peyton Manning wants to win? Peyton's little brother Eli now has one more Super Bowl ring than he does. I guarantee Peyton wants nothing more than to even the score with his little brother and win another Super Bowl title.
Every diehard Seahawks fan should be thrilled to have Paul Allen as the owner of the franchise. With Allen, money is never an issue and the Hawks have plenty of room financially under the salary cap.
As I've outlined in previous articles, the Seahawks are one player, a quarterback, away from competing for a Super Bowl title.
Right now, I do not think the Seahawks have a quarterback that can lead them to a Super Bowl victory. Just being competitive is not enough. Seattle needs a Super Bowl championship. Seattle needs Peyton Manning wearing #18 in Seahawks blue. Peyton Manning has two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl title. A healthy Manning is a proven commodity. A healthy Manning is a future Hall of Fame quarterback. A healthy Manning is the rare breed of quarterback that can alter the entire National Football League, not just one franchise.
If you put it all together: the Seahawks have a Pro Bowl running back, Pro Bowl receiving options, and an upper-echelon defense. The Seahawks just need the quarterback. Peyton Manning would be the perfect piece to the puzzle in Seattle.
For more on the Seahawks and the possibility of Peyton Manning in Seattle, head over to our offseason StoryStream or head over to Field Gulls.