When the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning, they didn’t just sign his arm (or neck for that matter). More than anything, they signed his brain. He’s got one of the highest football IQ’s in the sport, and he’s arguably the best at reading defenses.
“He sees where you’re going with it,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “That takes a tremendous amount of (film) study. I don’t know that we’ve ever seen anybody who could get it right that often against that many different things.” (Denver Post)
While his ability to read coverages gets me excited, I can’t help but think of how much Manning is going to use every bit of Denver’s 5,280 foot elevation to his advantage.
Manning was notorious for keeping defenses on their heels while running a fast-paced offense in Indianapolis. I thoroughly remember Manning’s four touchdown passes in the Colts’ 28-16 thumping over the Broncos in December 2009. More recently, there was the three touchdown pass, 325-yard game Manning had as the Colts beat the Broncos 27-13 in September 2010.
In those games, it didn’t matter what the Broncos threw at him. An all-out blitz package would make Manning salivate. He gets the ball out faster than anyone in the game. Time in the pocket? That’s chum to the Great White for an ill-prepared fisherman.
Manning is going to thrive playing in Denver. Opposing teams bring ample supply of oxygen for players to suck back on the sidelines anyway. Throw Manning’s arm and style into the equation, and teams will need the Amazon rainforest close by.
Josh McDaniels was often criticized for not using Denver’s air to his advantage. He would slow things down, allow defenses to catch their breath and set up. John Fox is much better at utilizing his players’ strengths. He knows that Manning can not only make defenses play on their heels, but he’s capable of making them collapse all together. He’s done it for 14 years.
Throw in a talented running back in Willis McGahee and this is going to be one of the most potent offenses the Mile High City has seen in a long, long time.
Those eight home games that Denver has locked in is their’s for the taking as far as I’m concerned. Sea level is for sissies, and now we have Mile High Manning.