With the news of Peyton Manning choosing the Denver Broncos as the next stop in his legendary career, the excitement is palpable in the mile high air. And every piece of confetti is merited.
While the 2011 Broncos captivated the nation’s imagination with a torrent of breath-taking comeback wins, the actual statistics tell a different story: for the majority of games, the Broncos’ offense under Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow left defenses yawning. Manning must have seen the potential for dramatic improvement.
In sixteen regular season games, only twice did the Broncos’ offense eclipse 30 points. The fact that Denver won a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers despite such inconsistency is a testament to its defense and clutch special teams, often bailing out ineffective play on offense. Peyton Manning, however, changes all of that.
Manning has punched a ticket to the Hall of Fame by running a ruthless version of the hurry-up offense for years with the Indianapolis Colts. In Denver, it so happens, visiting defenses often wear down at the end of games due to the thin air. Defenses will have their conditioning pushed to the limit during every home game in Denver.
Add to the environment the fact that Manning will have good, young receiving talent in DeMaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, other weapons Denver will add with ample cap space (Dallas Clark and Mike Wallace are possibilities) and Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady keeping him upright in the passing game.
Oh, and here’s a scary thought: Peyton Manning teaming up with the league’s top-ranked rushing offense. Just two years ago, when Manning was suiting up for the Super Bowl despite a nonexistent Colts’ run game, Manning directing a dominant rushing team sounded more like a Madden video game pairing than a real possibility. But now, in Denver, opposing defenses will be faced with the task of somehow stopping both Willis McGahee on the ground and Peyton Manning through the mile high air.
This offense will combine the explosiveness of a Manning system with the toughness of a John Fox offense. This offense will be built to win in January as in September. This offense will be dangerous.
Give John Elway and John Fox credit: they identified an opportunity for improving this team, they went all-in, and they succeeded in recruiting a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback–a living legend who also entertained sales pitches from his wife’s homestate and a team that nearly made the Super Bowl last year with Alex Smith at quarterback. It will be interesting to soon hear Manning discuss how he ultimately chose Denver. Maybe the Broncos’ brass showed Manning something he couldn’t turn down: the chance to take one more dominant offense to a Super Bowl.