The fans of the Arizona Cardinals went from elated by the thought that Peyton Manning might become a member of the Cards to disgusted that he went to the Denver Broncos. It seemed that Arizona had the perfect setup -- a coach that likes to give the quarterback freedom, skill players like Larry Fitzgerald, a division that is winnable and a defense that could make it so the team does not give up leads.
The one thing that perhaps had fans a little worried was the offensive line play. In hindsight, one could cringe thinking about Manning playing with D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie protecting the edge. It would have been ugly, I'm sure.
Now, for those paying attention, what is going on in Denver will produce more vomiting. Denver has not allowed a sack of Manning in their past three games. Manning made it a point to praise the line, according to the Denver Post.
"I appreciate the effort those guys have made week after week. (Because of injuries) they've used some different guys. And whoever is in there has stepped up to the plate."
Denver has had injuries too, but still has managed to keep Manning clean. The result? He had four straight 300 yard passing games and is in the middle of a give-game streak of throwing at least three touchdown passes.
That would look really good right now for the Cardinals, wouldn't it?
Part of that is the fact that Manning makes lines look better. He did it in Indy forever. That line was average at best overall.
I know that the line would not look nearly so bad with Manning back there. He makes presnap reads better than anyone, so he knows where to put the ball. He would also demand better play from his teammates.
"We spend a lot of time together in practice and in watching film together," he said. "The important thing between a quarterback and the offensive line is constant communication. So we treat practice like a game, meetings like a game. We talk and try to be on the same page, especially when you're going to play on the road (with the crowd noise)."
Would Manning have been a great addition to the Cardinals? Yes. Would the team be better? Yes. Would he make this line look better? Undoubtedly. The issue is just that Manning would probably have died after a Batiste blowby.
The end result? Fans hang their heads knowing what could have been. But deep down they know why Manning is not donning red. It is because of the line play.