Peyton Man(ning) Up!
A lot of things look familiar when you watch Peyton Manning in the rarefied air of Denver. He still jogs out of the tunnel as slowly as ever. His helmet still barely fits on his enormous melon. The press conference “gee shucks-ing” sounds about the same. But there is a huge difference this year, and that is Peyton Manning’s win record, which is below .500.
In the 15 previous years of Manning’s career (not counting last season due to sitting out), Manning has only had a sub .500 record twice: his rookie year and in 2001. Is it the beginning of the end for Mr. Manning? Is his swan song, more like a toad’s croak? When is the right time to panic in Bronco-land?
According to Ron Jaworski, and others, Peyton’s arm strength is greatly diminished and will hold back the team all season. Jaws said the ball doesn’t seem to spring out of his hand like it used to. If we look at him objectively, instead of using Jaws’ “keen” eye for the intangibles, a very different picture can be painted with Peyton’s first three games with the Orange and Blue.
If we look at the most important stat that most people look at with QBs, accuracy, his 2012 campaign 60%, is down just slightly from his career average of 64.9%. A big part of this though can be chalked up to the fact that three of the top-10 players to drop passes in the league are all on the Broncos: Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Willis McGahee. Then we can look at his second most glaring statistic of eight sacks this season. Nothing compared to the eight sacks Aaron Rodgers took in the first half of the Seahawks game alone, but still a crazy number considering he took 16 sacks all season in 2010, and 10 in 2009.
So what it really looks like is Manning’s offensive line and receivers are the ones really letting the team down and not Manning. Everything else, his TD and INT percentage, yards per catch, yards after catch, yards per game etc., are all right in line with his career statistics. That “wobbler” that all the experts have noted as an indication of his diminished arm strength is actually a characteristic he has had his whole career.
Check out this highlight reel of Peyton’s career and watch those wobblers land right where they are supposed to be.
In fact, if you look at some Eli highlights as well, you will see that characteristic wobble as well. I guess Archie is just a really bad QB coach because that throwing technique has definitely not worked out for either of his sons. Or the more likely thing is that Jaws has no idea what he is talking about. I am not putting my QB prowess above Jaws by any stretch. I am just looking at the facts.
- He has always had a wobbler spiral
- His numbers the first three games this season is nearly identical to his career stats
With that being said, there is definitely something different this year with Mr. Manning. Four neck surgeries and 18 months off will do that to you I guess. He just does not look quite in synch with the offense.
If you twist my arm to hypothesis what is going on, it is not that difficult to discern. Peyton is playing in a new place for the first time in his career, sleeping in a new bed, showering in a new training facility, flying to and from commercial shoots at a different airport, throwing to new receivers, touching a new center’s butt, ignoring a new offensive coordinator.
What I am trying to say is one of the most regimented men in football is having to redo his regimen. Even though everything around the man has changed, he has still put up nearly identical game statistics. So if he has basically preformed nearly the same, the problem must be with something that has changed for Manning.
The real failure that has occurred is with the coordination. Mike McCoy is not the strong backup mind that Manning really needs to support him. McCoy proved he was flexible last year by adjusting his whole scheme to fit Tim Tebow, but adjusting to a run option scheme is a lot easier than trying to coordinate an offense around one of the greatest QBs to ever lace up his cleats. McCoy is struggling mightily, which is putting the Broncos behind the eight ball early in games. Then when Manning takes over in the second half, Denver’s offense opens up and the points start to rain down.
Soon enough, McCoy will give up and let Manning do his thing all game. Then those stats we are seeing that are pretty similar to the old Manning will start producing game results, well like the old Manning. The other factor that will definitely help this team is that they are just about to start their division schedule, and the AFC West looks like it might be the worst division in football. Nothing gets a season back on track then playing the Oakland Raiders. That is of coarse providing that you are not the Pittsburgh Steelers.