If Manning was Awful, What About This Guy?


Dec 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) prepares to pass in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

How’s this for a stat line to show you a quarterback is “washed up and finished:” 12-for-22 passing for 123 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.

Man, that team must have had no chance in that game. It must have been a complete blowout.

That quarterback was clearly “in a funk.”

Or “struggling.”

Or “something wasn’t right.”

Actually, it was John Elway’s stat line in Super Bowl XXXII. Oh, by the way, it was a game the Denver Broncos won 31-24.

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“Yeah, but Elway was in a funk.” Some funk since he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

As was the case with those Broncos’ teams, it’s not about one player. It’s not about one facet. It’s about the team. It’s about all three phases working in unison together – offense, defense and special teams.

It’s not the stats. It’s not the fantasy points. It’s the wins. This isn’t college football where teams have to impress a committee. It’s not based on what judges (or fans) think.

On the list of areas to concern yourself with, Peyton Manning is not and should not be one of them.

As you have undoubtedly heard by now, the NFL is a week-to-week to league. An offensive game plan is created to give the offense the best chance to succeed against the defense.

As John Fox noted today in his weekly news conference, who is to say the Broncos won’t come out and sling it all over the field 50 times against San Diego? It’s doing what gives the team the best chance to win – whatever it is.

The ultimate goal is a balanced offensive attack. That allows the running game and the passing game to work in unison. When you have that balance, you force the defenses you play to make a decision.

Since Manning has been in Denver, that decision was easy. There was no need to even bother planning for the Broncos’ rushing attack. Drop eight into coverage because even with just three guys, Denver couldn’t run the ball.

Do we need to reference 43-8 again?

Dec 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Anthony Dixon (26) is tackled by Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) and strong safety T.J. Ward (43) in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Bills 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The last three weeks will now force opposing defenses to make a decision – try to stop the run with seven guys in the box and leave single coverage on the Broncos’ receivers? Or take your chances and continue to defend Manning and allow C.J. Anderson to run free?

Good luck.

Add to that a defense that is finally playing the type of defense needed to win in the playoffs. The cashing it in, prevent mindset in the fourth quarter is getting old, but that doesn’t take away from how dominate the defense was once again.

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  • You win in the playoffs when you dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

    You don’t win by slinging the ball around 50 times with a finesse offense, unless you want to see 43-8 again.

    There is no one who knows that better than Elway. That’s why, by all accounts, he reminded Manning he doesn’t have to do it by himself.

    For his entire career, Elway had to carry the Broncos. That’s why they played in three Super Bowls in four years. Three teams that had no business playing in a Super Bowl.

    But there’s only so much one player, or facet, can do for a team when that’s all there is. This is a team game. You need a complete team that doesn’t necessarily need to be special in all aspects of the game but is really, really good.

    The moment Elway and Mike Shanahan realized that came in the crushing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1996 playoffs. From that moment, Shanahan said, “The next time we’re in the playoffs, Terrell Davis is going to get at least 25 carries a game.”

    That carried them to Denver’s first Super Bowl win. You’ll remember Elway’s stat line from earlier.

    “Yeah, but he was in a funk. He proved he was washed up.”


    In the very next Super Bowl: 18 of 29 passing for 336 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

    “Man, that quarterback must have been really good and the team won.”

    In the infamous words of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers: R-E-L-A-X.

    Dec 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (22) scores a rushing touchdown in the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports