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Peyton Manning, Super Bowls, Pete Carroll, and Mini-Dynasties

This article will not change your mind on what you think of Peyton Manning to the Seahawks. If you want him, you will read this article and say "so what?" If you don't want him, you may add a few more points to your stance.

Hopefully, this article can explore some NFL history, championship models, and more of Pete Carroll's philosophy. I know Danny, who is the reason why I write here, and whose opinion I respect, thinks it would be foolish to not explore Peyton Manning. I get that. My feel is that most Seahawks fan agree with Danny. This is a respectful counter-point.

On the record - I do not support Peyton Manning to the Seahawks. I do not support it because of age, fit, future QB development, injury history, team identity and money. I also do not support it because my interpretation of NFL history tells me that a Super Bowl winner is overwhelmingly a team in the midst of a run of sustained success. This sustained success, or 'mini-dynasty', is marked by multiple Super Bowl appearances and exact continuity at the quarterback and head coach position.

I want a young, drafted quarterback and I do not mind if the Seahawks draft one in Round 2 in 2012 and another one in Round 1 in 2013. I am a draft guy for many reasons I won't list here. Anyway, on to the article.

The media is rumoring Peyton Manning to the Seahawks. Let me throw some thoughts into that conversation. My first thought on that is this: no QB has won a Super Bowl with two different teams. Ever. The closest thing was Kurt Warner. My second thought: Super Bowl winning is overwhelmingly done by Mini-Dynasties.

I have a hard time seeing Peyton Manning forming a mini-dynasty with a new team at his age. John Elway was with his same team when he won those two late Super Bowls. We can leave the neck thing out of it, but let's talk about mini-dynasties.


A mini-dynasty, as it pertains to this article, is a team with at least two Super Bowl appearances in four years. What I found, is that a vast majority of the time, mini-dynasties have the same head coach and same QB (eight out of ten times).

The idea of a dynasty is important to Seahawks fans because it's a big part of identity and personality the team's head coach espouses. It's the core goal - more important than anything, really. It's what 'Win Forever' is based on. Pete Carroll tells this story on his first win as an NFL head coach, on the road with the Jets at Buffalo - and the inception of the "Win Forever" concept.

"I noticed for the first time all of Buffalo's division championship banners on display- and it dawned on me that, while we had just won a game, since Coach Levy had been there, they had put up winning season after winning season, division championship after division championship. There must have been six or seven of them up there. And as I stood there congratulating myself on my brand new 1-0 record as an NFL head coach, it hit me: now that's success."

I did a study on the last 46 Super Bowl Winners and the all 92 Super Bowl Participants. You can see my chart here.

You know how Pete Carroll says 80-85% of the time, the team that wins the turnover battle, wins the game? How about this one - 80-85% of the time - the team that wins the Super Bowl appeared, or will appear, in another Super Bowl within four years - with the exact same head coach - and the exact same quarterback.

Most Seahawk fans would trade their right arm for one Super Bowl Ring. As for Pete Carroll - I think one is not enough. Additionally, I believe Pete has concluded that getting one Super Bowl ring typically involves being part of a larger sustained movement of success. Meaning - if you get one ring - typically you appear in at least two championship games. Again, most Super Bowls are won by mini-dynasties.

How can I say this another way - Super Bowl winners, a great majority of the time (80-85%), come with these three components:

(1) Another appearance in the Super Bowl within four years (past or future).
(2) Same Head Coach in those appearances.
(3) Same Quarterback in those appearances.

If you look at the chart - every line that is colored in means that team appeared in more than one Super Bowl in a four-year period. There is a lot of color on that chart - especially on the left side (the winning team side).


Here is a complete list of all historical Super Bowl/Coach/QB pairings (Mini-Dynasties):

(1) PACKERS - Super Bowl I and II: Vince Lombardi and QB Bart Starr (what more needs to be said?).
(2) CHIEFS - Super Bowl I and IV: Hank Stram and QB Len Dawson (They lost I to Green Bay and won Super Bowl IV).
(3) VIKINGS - Super Bowl IV, VIII, IX, XI: Bud Grant and QB Fran Tarkenton (They lost all four - but they were still a dynasty).

Pete Carroll writes about Bud Grant, whom he coached under, in Win Forever:

"One of the coaches I'm most proud to say I worked under was Bud Grant of the Minnesota Vikings. Coach Grant is the 3rd winningest professional football coach in history...his intuitive powers truly amazed me and I remain in awe of those abilities to this day."

(4) COWBOYS - Super Bowl V, VI, X, XII, XIII: Tom Landry and QB Roger Staubach (They won two and lost three; five appearances in nine years - impressive).
(5) DOLPHINS - Super Bowl IV, VII, VIII: Don Shula and QB Bob Griese/Earl Morrall (appeared in three straight Super Bowls, lost the first and won the next two)
(6) STEELERS - Super Bowl IX, X, XIII, XIV: Chuck Noll and QB Terry Bradshaw (appeared in four Super Bowls in six years, won all four).
(7) RAIDERS - Super Bowl XV, XVIII: Tom Flores and QB Jim Plunkett (dynasty somewhat related to Madden/Stabler of XI).
(8) 49ERS - Super Bowl XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV: Bill Walsh (3)/ George Seifert (1) and QB Joe Montana (I excluded Seifert/Young in XXIX but no doubt that win was related to these four).

Pete Carroll in Win Forever on Bill Walsh:

"Often, when I left his office, I felt the same way I had with Coach Grant in Minnesota: privileged to pick the brain of one of the great minds in my profession. It was though Coach Walsh let me in on his professional secrets."

On George Seifert: (a young Pete Carroll would visit Seifert before Seifert was head coach):

"George would let me sit in his office and ask questions about the NFL, the philosophy of former 49ers head coach, Bill Walsh, and overall defense"

(9) BRONCOS- Super Bowl XXI, XXII, XXIV: Dan Reeves and QB John Elway (these were all losses but three SB appearances in four years is impressive).
(10) GIANTS- Super Bowl XXI, XXV: Bill Parcells and QB Phil Simms (yes, Hostetler helped too).
(11) BILLS- Super Bowl XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XVIII: Marv Levy and QB Jim Kelly (all losses - but this is the team that inspired Win Forever!).
(12) COWBOYS- Super Bowl XXVII, XXVIII, XXX: Jimmy Johnson (2)/ Barry Switzer (1) and QB Troy Aikman (a true dynasty).
(13) PACKERS- Super Bowl XXXI, XXXII: Mike Holmgren and QB Brett Favre (won the first and lost the second).
(14) BRONCOS- Super Bowl XXXII, XXXIII: Mike Shanahan and QB John Elway (Elway finally got his, twice).
(15) PATRIOTS- Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLII, XLVI: Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady (you know the story).
(16) STEELERS- Super Bowl XL, XLIII, XLV: Bill Cowher (1)/ Mike Tomlin (2) and QB Ben Roethlisberger (you know the story).
(17) GIANTS- Super Bowl XLII, XLVI: Tom Coughlin and QB Eli Manning (interesting that Coughlin and Belichick were with Parcells).


I will start in present day and move back in time in this section.

(1) COLTS- Super Bowl XLI, XLIV: Tony Dungy (1)/Jim Caldwell (1) and QB Peyton Manning (seems like Peyton was the bigger key here).
(2) RAMS- Super Bowl XXXIV, XXXVI: Dick Vermeil (1)/Mike Martz (1) and QB Kurt Warner (again, seems like Warner the tie).
(3) REDSKINS- Super Bowl XVII, XVIII, XXII, XXVI: Joe Gibbs and QBs Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien (this is the main case where a good head coach actually won a Super Bowl with three different QBs - perhaps hurts the argument that Pete Carroll can't win the Super Bowl with two different QBs - but it does not sway me).
(4) DOLPHINS- Super Bowl XVII, XIX: Don Shula and QB David Woodley and Dan Marino (again, another case of same coach - different QBs - both appearances in losing efforts).
(5) COLTS (Baltimore) - Super Bowl III, V: QBs Johnny Unitas and Earl Morrall - coaches were Don Shula in III and Don MacCaferty (same QBs, different coaches)

Based on these last 22 mini-dynasties, the coach is very important, but the tie-in of the same QB seems a bit more important. Johnny Unitas, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, Big Ben, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and John Elway all appeared in Super Bowls (they were with their same team, I need to remind) with different coaches.

Joe Gibbs and Don Shula were both able to get to the Super Bowl with different QBs within a four year period. When you think of coaches like Jim Caldwell, Barry Switzer and Mike Martz getting to Super Bowls - I am going to swing the way of the QB as being the bigger factor. Not that the Head Coach is not gigantic. Again, more often than not, the Head Coach and QB are paired in multiple appearances.


(1) JETS- Super Bowl III - Joe Namath.
(2) RAIDERS- Super Bowl XI - John Madden and Ken Stabler - some might tie this to the 1980/83 Raider Mini-Dynasty.
(3) BEARS- Super Bowl XX - Mike Ditka and Jim McMahon - what a great team.
(4) 49ERS- Super Bowl XXIX - George Seifert and Steve Young - 5 years a part from Seifert/Montana, so this one could be part of the big dynasty.
(5) RAVENS- Super Bowl XXXV - Brian Billick and Trent Dilfer.
(6) BUCS- Super Bowl XXXVII - Jon Gruden and Brad Johnson.

Benefit of the Doubt:

I think Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees could both appear in another Super Bowl - so even though, so far, they are officially "one offs"- I can see them paired with another SB appearance each before they retire. Can't you?


Super Bowls are overwhelmingly won by mini-dynasties. Those dynasties - with few exceptions - are represented in the Super Bowl by the exact same quarterback, and to a slightly lesser extent, the same head coach. History says that the Super Bowl winner is (over 80% of the time) a team that visits the Super Bowl more than one time and brings with it a story of strong continuity at the head coach position and extremely strong continuity at the quarterback position.

More succinctly - one conclusion to draw from the research above is that rings are a product of continuity at quarterback and head coach, which leads to sustained success and is marked by multiple Super Bowl appearances.

Post script: Protecting Peyton

Do you honestly think the Seahawks can make multiple Super Bowl appearances with Peyton Manning?

I like the Seahawks offensive line. I think in the next few years it can be an above-average offensive line - especially in the running game. As a pass protecting offensive line will it be strong enough to protect an older quarterback with injury and mobility issues? I have my doubts.

This is not an indictment against the Seahawks' offensive linemen. I think Max Unger and Russell Okung are good. Robert Gallery is older, and John Moffitt and James Carpenter are a work in progress and coming off injury. Breno Giacomini has been a great pick-up off the Green Bay practice squad - but no one is predicting Pro Bowls for Breno. To be honest, the only line I would trust to protect Peyton is the 2005 Seahawks line.

Think about the beating Kurt Warner took his last year in the NFL- getting brutally concussed to the point he couldn't see correctly for weeks - prompting his retirement. Think about the hits Brett Favre took his last two years in the NFL. His last year was just sad - his body was broken. Even in the his amazing 2009 season - and the Vikings should have beat the Saints - do you remember the licks he took to his ankle? Favre took a lot of brutal shots in those playoffs.

When a quarterback is 37-41 years old, their body can't bounce back in-game or in-week like it did before, from the NFL punishment. Without question, a quarterback's mobility is hampered with age as well.

After Justin Tuck hit Brady in the last Super Bowl and hurt that left shoulder, Brady wasn't quite as accurate as he was prior. Think about the beating the 49ers put on Eli Manning in that amazing recent NFC Championship game. The 49ers hit him 20 times and he kept getting back up. Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, and the linebackers laying wood. That being said, Eli is 31 years old with no known injury history.

Again, this is not an indictment against the Seahawks offensive line. I don't think they suck. I don't think they are bad. I also don't think they are the 2005 Seahawks - and Matt Hasselbeck was about 31 yrs old back then. I am not advocating the Seahawks needing to get an offensive line as good as the 2005 Seahawks either, but it seems to me that they need a QB that can move and absorb the inevitable hits when they come - along with playing great football of course. This is not easy to find though, apparently.

How many NFL offensive lines can carry an older quarterback through 16 regular season games and 3-4 playoff games without injury? I can't stand Tarvaris Jackson as the Seahawks QB - why? Because he has not shown the ability to lead a late game field goal drive. The Seahawks know he isn't that great. They also know that he is somewhat mobile, though he doesn't move in the pocket like he is capable of, and he is physically tough to withstand beatings. His toughness is probably his best trait. Not a Super Bowl winning trait - but the trait Pete and John mention a lot.

The Seahawks line could do a wonderful job for most of the game versus a San Francisco, a Baltimore, a Pittsburgh, a New York Giants - but it only takes a one or a couple of big hits per game - and those hits will come - it's just part of the game. I have a hard time envisioning Peyton Manning lasting all the way to the Super Bowl behind the Seahawks line, and frankly - behind most offensive lines.