The Denver Broncos are in a very interesting place in the 2015 season compared to what we’ve seen since Peyton Manning came aboard in 2012. This team’s identity has seen a major change this season, and the fans have not been adjusting as quickly as the undefeated Broncos have.
No longer is this team an offensive juggernaut that can score seemingly at will. No longer is this team a touchdown machine in the red zone. This team is a defensive powerhouse whose biggest offensive threat right now is a big-legged kicker that hasn’t missed all season.
This team looks like a mid-2000’s Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens team.
Where the Broncos are strong this year is defensively, and right now, everyone knows that. They have — in my opinion by far — the best defense in the NFL with elite talent at every level. This defense has speed, they have playmaking ability, and they know how to get the ball back into the offense’s hands or score it themselves.
To put things into perspective, the Broncos have won two games this year (vs. Baltimore, @ Oakland) where they didn’t score an offensive touchdowns. Brandon McManus hit another three field goals on Sunday to bring his season total to 12, four of them from beyond 50 yards and all but five from 40 yards or longer.
Brandon McManus has transformed himself into the Broncos’ offensive MVP.
Britton Colquitt has done a phenomenal job of flipping the field for the Broncos this season, consistently pinning teams inside the 20 and kicking his first touchback of the season against the Raiders on Sunday.
When John Elway said he wanted this team’s mentality to be ‘kicking and screaming’ iI was personally unaware he meant he wanted the offense to scratch and claw for every yard. The Broncos have been awful this season, 2nd fewest yards per play of any team in the NFL offensively and showing incredible ineptitude in the running game.
This is completely uncharacteristic of a Gary Kubiak-led offense, but it’s nothing Peyton Manning hasn’t heard before. The difference is, Manning has thrown six touchdown passes this season compared to seven interceptions already. He threw seven touchdowns in one game to start the 2013 season.
It’s not that Manning’s arm strength isn’t there — he’s capable of making the throws — it’s the fact that he’s making bad pre-snap reads and forcing the ball into double coverage. It’s that the Broncos are running routes with shallow depth and not getting past the line to gain. It’s that Manning’s accuracy is the real problem with his passing, not that he can’t get it from A to B.
The thing that Broncos fans need to realize is that right now, it’s okay that Peyton Manning is playing poorly. He’s being carried by the best defense in the NFL. We’ve seen average quarterbacks win Super Bowls with great defenses in recent history in the NFL. Right now, Peyton Manning is an average-below average NFL quarterback, and that’s just the reality of things.
Sure, receivers have dropped balls. Sure, the offensive line hasn’t been great. Sure, the running game has been invisible.
But Peyton Manning has not been Peyton Manning. And that’s fine, because this defense is going to win the Broncos a championship.
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