Tony Dungy explains why Peyton Manning could never be a coach

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Tony Dungy coached Peyton Manning for seven seasons in Indianapolis and gave him wide leeway to call the plays, run the offense and generally act like a coach on the field. But Dungy doesn’t think Manning could ever be a coach on the sideline.

Asked on the Dan Patrick Show whether Manning could be an NFL coach, Dungy said that he couldn’t. According to Dungy, Manning is the “smartest player I’ve ever been around” and would have such high expectations for every player that he wouldn’t be able to manage players who couldn’t match his mental approach to the game.

“No, absolutely not, because he would expect that from everybody, and he doesn’t realize, everybody’s not Peyton Manning,” Dungy said. “Everybody doesn’t work that hard, everybody can’t be at that level all the time. It would frustrate him to death.”

Dungy said Manning would come to him on a Tuesday with dozens of new plays he would want to install in the offense, and Dungy would have to tell Manning to ease off because it wasn’t realistic to think that everyone on the Colts would be able to learn all those new plays by Sunday.

“He’s got 25 things we can run and he knows they’ll be touchdown plays,” Dungy said. “You have to say, ‘Peyton, they are great plays — they probably would be touchdowns. You could put them in just like that. Everybody can’t. The other 10 guys can’t handle those 25 new plays.'”

Perhaps Manning’s biggest problem as a coach would be that he wouldn’t be able to run an offense that didn’t have Peyton Manning as its quarterback.

80 responses to “Tony Dungy explains why Peyton Manning could never be a coach

  1. they said the same thing about Larry Bird. different sport, but same deal – elite guy that busted his tail and did all the little things that most other guys don’t / won’t / can’t do, and they came close under Larry Legend.

  2. Without a doubt the most cerebral QB to ever play the game. Raider fans, that means he uses his head. Unlike your ownership and management have done for the last decade.

  3. That’s an interesting perspective on what it’s like to be a head coach. Psychology probably plays a big role for successful head coaches.

  4. I completely agree. That’s why we’ve seen many great pro’s fail at the managing/coaching level. Which I think is because for them there elite skill level is something that comes easy and naturally and can’t relate to those of lesser skill levels or those with less talent. Many head coaches were mediocre to below average players. Not saying that isn’t possible I just think elite players have a different comprehension and knack for the game that is hard to coach/teach.

  5. Obviously, Tony Dungy is very knowledgeable as to what would or would not work for Peyton Manning.

    But imagine what a team would be like if Peyton could find a bunch of guys that could keep up with him as a coach. He’d be terrific…

  6. Thanks Tony for providing a perfect example of why Peyton had to overcome his opponents on game days and his own coaching staffs.

    It would have been amazing to see him play for a coach that took chances and wasn’t just a passive gentleman.

  7. Tony’s right, of course. Manning, like his dad, is destined for the broadcast booth after he’s done playing football. He’s got it made in the shade.

  8. I wouldn’t write him off just yet. Dungy just seems like a more straightforward, routine guy who wouldn’t want this as much as the other 10 guys. With the right personnel, this is probably doable, or at least a compromise between 0 and 25 new plays. Dungy just doesn’t seem like he enjoys thinking outside of the box. But you’re right, Peyton would need a quarterback like him and a franchise like the Patriots to pull it off. Send him to Seattle to be Russell Wilson’s OC!

  9. Somehow I think Peyton will get older and wiser, and can handle adjusting his expectations of others. Looks like he has already done that in Denver. And if he can outcoach the other team during the audible on a given play, I bet he can outcoach them for a game, given a whole week to prepare. Somebody, perhaps all 32 owners, will gamble on this. High reward gamble in a few years…..

  10. I’m sure Peyton is going to get the chance to run whatever team he ends up owning as he sees fit. Peyton has been communicating and teaching players that are not on his level for 15+ years now. If he could scare stupid players smart as a QB I’m pretty sure he could be just as affective when he can dangle their roster spot over their head.

  11. This article is more telling of Tony Dungy than Peyton Manning. Helps to understand how Dungy squandered so many super bowl caliber teams. Dungy was a serious underperformer.

  12. Perhaps Manning’s biggest problem as a coach would be that he wouldn’t be able to run an offense that didn’t have Peyton Manning as its quarterback.

    Could perhaps be less of a problem if he were to coach back at Indy with Andrew around.

  13. This sort is laughable. Beyond th basic point lies the truth:

    Why would a guy who makes 20 Mill a year want to be a coach?

    Add endorsements to his salary and imagine how long he’s been making big bucks. If I;m not mistaken, arson Palmer told the Bengals a couple years back that he had 80 mill in the bank.

    Peyton has got to have all of that and more, Interest alone, even at a mere 3%, would be in the millions.

    So I ask again: Why would he want to be a coach?

    He’d be better suited to politics.

  14. They said the same thing about Michael Jordan…

    “Great players make horrible coaches.”

    Or in Jordan’s case, they make lousy executives too.

  15. Just goes to show that fans who think their favorite athletes were just super lucky and athletically gifted, never realize that hard work is definitely part of the equation. And also shows that athletes (and anyone else) deserve millions if they invest hundreds and thousands of hours honing their craft every year since being a child.

    More people have to know about the hard work factor. People are always amazed when they find out Kobe Bryant was practicing his shot after losing to the Heat, or that Lebron was practicing after a loss last week.

    Everybody is not Iverson

  16. Right…How many Super Bowls did he win with that “mind”?..what is his playoff record with that “mind”?..while true that he seems to be the only one that can run HIS offense. Doesnt mean it is the BEST offense to run…as is evident by the results!

  17. You would think Peyton would have more playoff wins and wins in general if this was all true. Brady has 105 more wins than losses…Manning is almost 2 perfect seasons behind that…

  18. Dungy has a great point. I think Manning will be cooling down when he stops playing and hopefully he can make that transition into coaching. Because as manning is right now, he can’t be a coach or he’d get heart attack and die on the sideline.

  19. So why couldn’t Peyton just draft guys that have that same mindset?

    Seems to me if Manning had 11 guys on an offense that worked almost as hard as he did and were as smart as he is, he could create a very dangerous offense (even if they lacked in some of the physical areas).

  20. It certainly sounds as if Manning could be a great GM on some team,he is very football savvy and smart enough to realize what it takes to make a winner,Ted Thompson in Green Bay is also a savvy, intelligent person that became a GM and has continually put the Packers in position for playoffs and Super Bowl contention every year and so can Peyton Manning as the braintrust of a team.

  21. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if he could be a good coach, because he won’t ever want to be a head coach.

    Why would somebody with all of that money want to get up at 4:00 am everyday to bust his butt when he can just take it easy and go to the broadcast booth OR just go away and live a happy life with the family. It’s just not worth it, even if he is a super competitive guy who could get his fix from coaching.

  22. He will have a hundred million or so in the bank when he retires. Why would he even consider a job putting in the kind of hours coaches have to put in? If he can’t get away from the sport he can become a talking head on one of the sunday morning shows.

  23. Sounds like he’d be the perfect coach for Russell Wilson, who by all accounts is one of the hardest working QBs not named Manning.

  24. As proof of how excitable Peyton is, when Papa from Papa John’s says one million free pizzas, Peyton says two million. Even after being corrected to one million, he says two million. Obviously not head-coaching material.

  25. “This sort is laughable. Beyond th basic point lies the truth:

    Why would a guy who makes 20 Mill a year want to be a coach? ”

    Just because he makes so much money now doesn’t mean he wouldn’t want to coach.

    I could see some players who love the game and are driven to excel not being happy just riding off into the sunset or taking a commentator gig no matter how much they were making or how much a commentator gig offers.

    A coaching job would give that kind of player a new challenge to try and excel at once they were done playing. Peyton definitely seems to have a strong drive to excel and a love of the game otherwise I don’t see him spending so much time preparing/creating new plays…etc. so I wouldn’t be surprised if he did want to try coaching.

    And as far as Dungy’s comment about him expecting too much from players…maybe that would be true, but if he’s such an intelligent player I would hope he could realize that not everyone can learn as quickly as he can and adjust his expectations.

  26. Peyton Manning would have to be ok with watching another QB go out there and miss doing the things Peyton Manning would have done, and then be held responsible for that.

    In the end, could Peyton Manning sit there and watch someone else mess up, when all his life if there was a mistake there was something he could personally do to make sure it didn’t happen again?

  27. Yeah, that’s why he constantly is fighting with his teammates for not being him and why he and his family has a quarterback camp where he tells them all that they suck every year. If he wants to coach, I’m sure he’d be good, but he’s already so rich. Why do it?

  28. I don’t know. There is also another former Colts QB that is coaching in the NFL and doing a great job (he also knew that he needed ‘a manning like qb’, thus he tried real hard to sign Peyton, and was stuck with Alex Smith in the end)

    I am pretty sure Peyton knows what players are capable of, hes only been around the NFL forever teaching young receivers all time what to do. I think his expectations and mastery has made the players and coaches better. Would he be a slam dunk Super Bowl coach.. who knows? Thats why they play the game.

    How about we stop worrying about him coaching while hes still playing. And playing awesome mind you.

  29. “No, absolutely not, because he would expect that from everybody, and he doesn’t realize, everybody’s not Peyton Manning,” Dungy said.


    Part of the job of a head coach or manager in any of the major professional sports is establishing culture. I don’t think he would have any trouble establishing a culture of, “no matter what has happened on this team in the past, the teams on my watch will be world-famous for how hard they work. You don’t work hard, you’re outta here.”

    I’m seeing it here in Charlotte with the Bobcats. They brought in a new coach who immediately established a culture of work. Some of the practices in training camp were 4 hours long. The players whined at first, but eventually they bought in. They won as many games in the first month of this year as they did all of last year. There’s still not enough talent to compete every night, but everyone knows you have to work to get off the bench for this team.

    And all this from a coach who only had 2 years as an NBA assistant and a bunch of years in international ball and at NCAA Division II. I doubt someone as elite as Peyton Manning would have trouble getting a team he were coaching to buy in. I think he could be very successful, if that’s what he wants to do after he’s done playing.

  30. I might agree with Dungy if we were talking about Manning being head coach or the OC, but I would take Manning as my QB coach any day.

    As a Niner fan, I know the value of having an old QB on the sideline.

  31. You have got to be kidding me. Manning couldnt coach because he would expect too much out of his players? God forbid the players had to work their butts off to make the millions of dollars they earn every year!

    Wait, I’m sure Roger Goodell would fine Manning anyway. It has to be in the players CBA that they cant learn new plays every week!! Thats just insane!! Holding people to extremely high standards is called work. Like in a real job. But most of those people work 80 hour work weeks at minimum wage and are let go anyway.

    I’d love to have Manning coach my team. Guarantee they would have winning seasons every year.

  32. I wish the QB for my favorite team worked that hard. But he’s too busy pumping out kids with some super model.

  33. Dear Scott Pioli and Clark Hunt. I want to know what it feels like to not even get to interview Manning. I mean lets say you were close to the money Denver was, 99% of the time you get an interview. He knows you are so uncommitted to winning that he didn’t interview even though it might have raised his pay just by meeting with a division rival. Does it feel just a little bit bad that the best QB ever thinks that little of you?

  34. I have a ton of respect for Tony Dungy. By all accounts he a great human being and a nice guy.
    However, Dungy is one of the more overrated coaches of the last 25 years. Dungy should stick to analyzing games and forget about what Peyton Manning will do five years from now.

  35. It’s probably for the best…

    He’d then have to spend the next 20 years of his life getting owned by Tom Brady all over again once Brady decides to coach. Going through that in his playing career was enough.

    I’ll save you the trouble of saying “oh ya he’ll just spy on manning’s practices and that’s how he would win”…blah blah.

  36. LOL
    A self serving estimate if ever there was one.
    You would think he was asked…
    “where you necessarily in Indy?”
    Cause that is what he answered. If he thinks that Payton couldn’t adjust to the different requirements of coaching vs playing then he really has trouble thinking things through. the guy wants to win, he will do what it takes to win.
    He would certainly be a hard assed head coach. But just because Dungy wasnt, doenst mean that hard assed head coaches cannot be very very succesful

  37. Same thing w/ MJ in basketball if he had tried to coach. At practice they both would say “here gimme the ball I’ll show ya (do I have to do everything?) how.”

  38. John Fox seems like a puppet to me but Tony Dungy really does seem like the only Coach Peyton has ever been completely comfortable with and very trusting with. Wish I could of sat in on there conversations, probably would of seemed like a Physics class for advanced learners!!!

  39. 8man says:
    Dec 10, 2012 1:02 PM
    I wish the QB for my favorite team worked that hard. But he’s too busy pumping out kids with some super model.
    I hope that’s a joke.

  40. These comments by Dungy support previous assertions that Peyton took every single practice snap and every single snap in games thus leaving backup QBs woefully unprepared. Peyton was like Favre in refusal to mentor or talk to his backups.

  41. Peyton couldn’t be a football coach because he couldn’t handle any of the other day to day activities. Peyton is extremely intelligent when it comes to football, but that’s all he knows. He is basically an idiot savant when it comes to basic life skills. For a little insight, read a Nov. 22, 1999 Sports Illustrated article titled, Throughbred.

  42. heydiddlediddlerayriceupthemiddle says: Dec 10, 2012 11:12 AM

    Only Peyton Manning can beat Peyton Manning!

    And more often than not, he does in the playoffs.

  43. I don’t see why he couldn’t coach. The GM of that team may need to adopt an unorthodox philosophy by drafting the smarter offensive players over the more talented but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Passing on more talented offensive players by trading down would produce more picks and tons of salary cap space to load up on great defensive players.

  44. From what Tony says, it seems like Peyton would be a great motivator.
    And what is wrong with that?

  45. If Manning became head coach, he would eventually be fired. He wouldn’t have the same luxury as a player in that a coach would never survive a sub-500 playoff record! So much for the idea that Manning WAS the Colts. They seem to be doing pretty well without him this year!

  46. First, Tony Dungy took the team with the worst history in the NFL and made them into a perennial winner, creating and leading one of the greatest and most dominant defenses in the history of the NFL. Tony Dungy has proven that he can win without Peyton Manning at Quaterback. Tony Dungy won with Trent Dilfer and Shaun King at QB and both of those QB’s are average at best. Heck, Tony Dungy’s team came very close to the Superbowl when they lost to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game and that team was Quaterbacked by Shaun King. Please, think before you post.

    Second, Peyton Manning is not in the conversation for greatest quaterback in the history of the NFL. He is nowhere close to the conversation of Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Tom Brady, etc. Until he wins multiple Super Bowls he is only slightly above Dan Marino and Dan Fouts on the list of great QB’s. QB’s and Head Coaches are judged by only one thing, Championships. Peyton Manning has a led his team to as many Championships as Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Doug Williams, Broadway Joe, Phil Simms, Jeff Hostetler, Jim McMahhon, Mark Rypien, Joe Theisman, etc, etc. Stats are for losers. Greatness is judged by how many Championships you have.

  47. “ … and he doesn’t realize, everybody’s not Peyton Manning,” Dungy said.

    Before I read this, I thought Manning was fairly intelligent, but if after 14 years in the league he hasn’t “realized” this, then, yeah, he probably won’t make a good coach.

    Somehow I think he’ll have better things to do, anyway.

  48. As a former athlete I have always stated that forever what reason, sometimes the better the athlete, the worse the coach. Some of the best coaches I have been around, known, and observed, were actually not the best athlete, or the best at their sport. Dungy’s explanation makes sense. I used to joke that sometimes it was because it they were not the best athlete they were spent more time on the bench, thus, observing. Being in the game is different than observing the game. It is easier to observe what does and does not work. The perception of the game is different from the sideline.

  49. Rajbais: Designing plays is not the same thing as getting people to run them (or to get the raw talent to run them right)….Peyton can certainly do the former…but Tony is saying he can’t do the latter.

  50. My guess is that we will find out how good a coach he will be as soon as Peyton decides to retire from playing…….I would hire him in a heart beat and I bet that many other teams would as well.

  51. Dungy is correct, most of the great QB’s and other players are just not cut for coaching. That’s why you see very few Hall Of Fame players becoming Head Coaches or coaching at all.
    Let’s take the great QBs of the 70’s Bradshaw, Fouts, Griese, Staubach, 80’s Montana, Marino, Kelly, Moon, Elway and 90’s Young, Aikman, Favre.
    How many became coaches at all? Joe Montana said it after he retired and so did Ronnie Lott that it wouldn’t be fair to the players that they would coach because as coaches they would always expect those players to perform like them.

  52. BALONEY!! These players demand minimum 6 figures to play. Those who “excel” at the sport demand 7 & 8 figure salaries. It’s time that the NFL/owners begin to demand a higher level of performance of these individuals. Maybe they need more classroom time, more walk throughs, or whatever. But saying that the football player – who is usually a college/university graduate – cannot ingest and then execute such plays is pure hooey. These men are paid 24x7x365. They need to perform at a higher level or expect to have their salaries lowered commensurate with their mental abilities. You don’t see corporate America employees who are paid 6-figure salaries being considered mentally incapable of ingesting or executing “plays” in their line of work. And these guys who play a “game” call their efforts “work.” If they’re incapable of doing their work to a higher level, then lower their salaries! But God forbid the union allow that!!

    I don’t say that it’s possible for players to learn 10+ plays between game days, but between end of season and beginning of season, it is entirely possible. A play or two here and there during the season is achievable as well. It’s time for these multi-millionaires to cowboy-up and earn the salary they demand. Instead of toking, smoking and drinking, they should be working to maintain their skills and jobs. As a corporate America worker, I can assure you I don’t receive the pay they do for roughly 7 to 8-months of work a year. Granted, their careers can end on any Sunday with a devastating injury, but then again, so could mine. And my employer(s) don’t pump my salary to a higher level based on “possible” loss of my ability to perform my career. I’m expected to work 8x5x320-340 a year for 40+ years. I only wish my employer would pay me what the NFL HAS to pay these guys (minimum) for roughly 10-15 years of work. I’d be retired and working as a Wal-Mart greeter.

    Dungy gets what he expects – minimum performance from high-priced prima donnas with the mental capacity of a trained seal!

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