The history of Manning vs. Williams

Peyton Manning is a student of history, and not just the recent variety.

This week or next week, or likely both, he will pull film from Jan. 16, 1999. He played his first game against a Greg Williams-coached defense that day, and the Titans left the RCA Dome with a 19-16 upset of the Colts en route to their lone Super Bowl appearance.

Manning and the Colts have only lost to Williams one other time.

Here’s a look at Manning against Williams so far:

“[Williams’] scheme is very complex, but his players make it work,” Manning told Indiana reporters this week. “[Darren] Sharper is kind of the quarterback of the defense back there. [Jonathan] Vilma kind of gets the linebackers straight. They have excellent pass rushers. They’re really solid across the board. It gives you plenty to think about.

“It is, I think, in some ways a benefit to have two weeks to prepare. You have a lot of film to watch. One thing about playing the Jets last week was we had just played them. In a sense we had already had some time to prepare for them. To get ready for a team like the Saints that shows you multiple looks, the extra time to prepare is a benefit.”

The Colts figured out the Jets’ defense in relatively short order, and things went downhill fast for New York from there. The Saints would be wise to have multiple alternatives at the ready. When Manning figured out Plan A, switch to B and so on. It’s one way to slow him down. It’s another to have the personnel and the mindset to execute multiple things.

We linked earlier this week to a radio interview with Williams talking about Manning. Virtually every defensive coordinator preparing for Manning says the same things. Very few can make it happen.

And Deshawn Zombie visited these numbers earlier in the week and didn’t draw any conclusions in Williams’ favor.