Will he or won’t he?
It’s the question on the minds of Broncos Country and the Denver Broncos for nearly two weeks.
Will Peyton Manning return for another season? Or will he retire? It was an absurd question to begin with, especially when word came out that Manning played injured. The news came out that he was playing on a strained (torn) quad for at least the last four or five games. Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer said that Manning was actually playing with both thighs injured.
Then the story from Greg Bedard hit the web and it changed everything. Bedard, a longtime NFL reporter who now writes for The Monday Morning Quarterback (part of Sports Illustrated), said Manning first injured his leg in the first game against the San Diego Chargers. That was on Oct. 23.
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Bedard paints a very telling picture of why Manning was so inept and downright awful the last part of the season. And it makes total sense when you read it. Prior to that game in Denver against the Chargers, Manning was once again playing at an MVP level. He was unreal. He was the best in the NFL. But after that game, Bedard points out, he wasn’t.
For those who said, and still say, he lost it – you do not lose it that abruptly. You don’t play out of your mind and then “wham” it’s gone. No matter how old you are.
Let’s look at the playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts for more evidence. Manning not only missed his receivers, he missed them by a wide margin – at least five yards in some cases. If you’re injured, you naturally try to make up for that injury in other ways. It takes you out of your comfort zone. Manning uses his whole body to throw the football, and he gets his drive from his legs. If both legs were injured, he can’t get that push. So what does Manning do? He over corrects. He feels as if he has to throw it harder and farther than he’s used to. Hence why he was so off.
Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
For now, it appears the speculation is over since Manning plans to return to the Broncos for the 2015 season. The story was broke by Denver Post Sports Columnist Woody Paige, who got word from three trusted sources that Manning will return. Paige added it is all based on passing a physical. That’s what most thought. Manning would have to pass a physical for the Broncos before they would welcome him back.
Per ESPN Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold that’s not the case. Manning only had to pass a physical to have his contract guaranteed for the 2012 and ’13 seasons. That’s not the case for this season. So any physical Manning takes is of his own volition. That’s why John Elway and the Broncos want to know what his plans are by March 9 – that’s when Manning’s contract of $19 million is guaranteed.
Did anyone really, really think that game and performance against Indy would be Manning’s last? Even after it came out he was injured? And perhaps both of his legs? Paige said on a local radio show Wednesday afternoon that Manning’s leg after the second San Diego game looked so bad it looked as if there was internal bleeding.
Manning showed prior to the first Chargers game that he’s still capable of playing at the level he and everyone else expects. With a new coach in Gary Kubiak and system (that will work for both), Manning coming back healthy and even more determined, he will play at that level once again.
Manning still has plenty to prove and left to make it happen.
Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) attempts to pass on fourth down as Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Shaun Phillips (55) tackles late in the fourth quarter of the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports