I enjoy reading Peter King. He might not be the most knowledgeable football mind, but I enjoy his observations and the human interest angles he reports on.
In the MMQB yesterday, King focused on the Denver Broncos. He made a few noteworthy observations, but one in particular made me think a little bit.
He said this:
"“There’s not a lot to be negative about here, except this: age. Manning is 38, Welker 33, Ware 32. Manning is the franchise; this is a 9-7 team—at best—without him.”"
I suppose if I were to disagree with anything he said there, it’s that, without Peyton Manning, the Broncos are a 9-7 team. This time last year, I would have wholeheartedly agreed with him.
But the play of Brock Osweiler throughout this preseason has encouraged me and given me confidence that were something to happen to Manning (knock on wood), Osweiler could step in and still make plays.
Not at the level that Manning does, obviously. But with the weapons the Broncos have on offense; Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and Montee Ball, Osweiler would have all of the tools to put up a prolific performance.
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Not to mention that the Broncos’ offensive line, as a whole, might be the best the team has ever had. Ryan Clady being back is a very underrated boon to the team.
Moving Orlando Franklin from right tackle to left guard is going to pay dividends. All-Pro right guard, Louis Vasquez is arguably the best at his position.
Manny Ramirez graded out within the top 5 centers in the NFL last year, according to PFF. Don’t let the opening play of the Super Bowl sour your perspective on the ManRam. He’s very good and has a natural chemistry with Manning.
Chris Clark is best served on the right side, where he is now. I have no doubt that he’ll be able to hold down the fort.
9-7 at best? I think not. And we haven’t even talked about the defense that boasts the likes of Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Terrance Knighton, Sylvester Williams, Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, and T.J. Ward.
Where Mr. King gets it wrong is the ceiling. With Osweiler at QB, the team that John Elway has built, at best, could go 12-4. Maybe better.
Don’t underestimate the depth and talent on this roster. And don’t underestimate the development of one Brock Osweiler. He may have turned the corner.
King then goes on to somewhat contradict himself.
"“Hard to figure any way this happens (going 4-12), unless Manning gets hurt. Denver’s just too deep and explosive on offense, and the addition of Ware and Aqib Talib should keep the defense competitive. Not dominant, but competitive.”"
So on one hand, the Broncos roster is only good enough to go 9-7 sans Manning, but on the other, this roster is just too deep and explosive?
Regardless of what other national media outlets think, I’m no longer scared to death at the prospect of a Manning-less team. Although there would be some growing pains, I believe that Osweiler could get it done and still win the AFC West.