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Peyton thinks Tony will stick around past 2008

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Many seem to think 2008 is Dungy's swan song in the NFL. The Colts have already named is replacement, and like Mike Holmgren in Seattle (who has stated 2008 is his last year, and assistant Jim Mora Jr. will replace him in '09) Dungy might bow out at the end of next season, regardless of the outcome for the Colts.

However, one person begs to differ, and unlike many of us, this one person actually knows Coach Dungy's mind. That person is Peyton Manning:

"I certainly would anticipate he will be coaching beyond this year," Manning said on Wednesday after a Pro Bowl practice. "I like the fact he likes our team. I think it had a lot to do with him coming back.

"He felt like this is a good, young group of guys, a team that could do something. He's always had a real accurate sense on that. I'm not saying he can predict the future, but it gets me excited that he's excited about what's ahead for us."

Such words carry heavy weight. Manning can seemingly read Dungy as well as opposing defenses.

I, for one, would be very surprised if Dungy coaches for two more years. But, then again, if anyone knows Dungy's mind it's Peyton. But what about Jim Caldwell, the Associate Head Coach and eventual replacement for Dungy?
Unlike Holmgren, Dungy didn't announce a specific timeline for his departure. That sits well with Manning, who believes a defined succession plan could undermine a current head coach's leadership ability.

Manning said teams "have to be careful" not to damage the present in preparing for the future.

"I'm very close to Jim (Caldwell), but I just think for a new player coming in, you can't have two head coaches," Manning said. "Tony is our leader."

Like many of us, Peyton really feels injuries derailed the Colts from winning a second straight championship in 2007.
"It was the most injuries that I've seen in my 10 years with guys not being able to play and having to move guys around," said Manning, who has never missed an NFL start (174 career games). "One thing we didn't do is talk about it or complain. We were able to win 13 games, which is probably more of an accomplishment internally than externally because of some of the things we had to deal with.

"We had a disappointing ending without a doubt, but I think it's something we can build on. We've learned a lot about the character of some of our guys ... We can take a lot of positives and be an improved team next year."

A key this off-season is, for the first time in a while, there is very little roster turnover. Roster turnover is sometimes good, like back in 2006, but sometimes some continuity helps. For this young Colts teams, they need continuity. With no first round pick this season, less roster turnover is a very good thing. Adding depth and getting healthy are definite priorities in the 2008 off-season.