Manning was dead: to begin with. There was no doubt whatever about it. The register of his burial was signed by the Coach, The Executive Vice President Of Operations and The Fans. Kubiak signed it and Kubiak was good upon ‘Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Manning was as dead as a door-nail.
Sure, Charles Dickens is long gone and there were no apparitions to dispense wisdom but Sunday’s game against Chicago gave us an unique opportunity to look at what we once had under centre, take stock of what we have got at the moment and what we could have going forward.
Born in Santa Claus, the Bears QB perhaps has the strongest link to ‘A Christmas Carol’. The one time Denver starter is a man that possesses all the athletic gifts that you would want from a franchise quarterback. He has a strong arm and is mobile. He showcased his scrambling abilities by breaking out of the pocket to keep a few Chicago drives alive and he effectively bought time on several plays until his receivers became open.
The knock on Cutler is that he is mentally weak. He has yet to consistently display his leadership credentials and though throwing his I-Pad to the ground and shouting as he did on the sideline might be construed as passion, it can equally be seen as immaturity and mental fragility. Throughout his career, he has been plagued by rumours that his team mates do not have unwavering faith in him, questions have been raised about his desire, toughness and his decision making.
For me it’s simple, what Jay Cutler does not do enough of is win and win when it counts. He has contrived throughout his career to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. To date, he has one playoff win, the same as another Denver pariah Tim Tebow.
He made a poor decision on his first interception which bar an inadvertent trip by the long limbed Osweiler would have resulted in a touchdown which would have surely put the game out of reach. The second turnover (credited as an interception, though I thought it was a forced fumble by Von Miller) proved to be terminal to the Bears hopes of recovery.
The present incumbent in Mile High is less at odds with Father Christmas, instead fighting a battle with Father Time. Of the three, he is the only one guaranteed to be a first time inductee in the Pro Hall of Fame. Only HMV holds more records than Peyton Manning does.
As covered last week, at his advanced age he can only help the Broncos when he is confident and fully fit. It has been well over a year since he has been either. Troy Renck, a Denver Post Columnist made the point in his mailbag that it was no coincidence Manning’s best game – against Green Bay – came off Denver’s Bye Week where his body was given the additional time to recuperate.
Denver’s debacle last week has been well documented and dissected. We know that Peyton threw one more completion than he did interceptions and he was lucky to get away with that.
Only 7 years separate Jay Cutler and Peyton Manning (and in a quirky coincidence there are also 7 years between Brock and Cutler) but the former’s career accomplishments are undoubtedly dwarfed by No18s. However at this moment in time, statistics suggest that Jay Cutler is currently the better quarterback. My eyes tell me the same.
Peyton has been incredible for the Denver Broncos, his short but spectacular stay is already Ring of Fame worthy. If it wasn’t for an inexplicable lapse in judgement by Rahim Moore and cowardice on the part of John Fox, I am convinced we could have reached and won Superbowl XLVII. His Bronco resume is altogether more impressive considering it has been complied on a broken down body ravaged by surgery.
For the first time though, his diminishing physicality seems to be playing havoc with his traditionally strong mental acumen and unparallelled football IQ. He is making mistakes not only in his mechanics but in his thought process.
Unfortunately as hard as it is to observe and to write, he is a liability to his team mates in his current form and I believe he should not be given the start against New England. I do not wish to see his career end like this and I would love for him to lead the Broncos at least one more time to go out alone as the record holder in wins. Should we get to Superbowl 50, even if it was only for a series, Peyton would start in my team.
However, sentimentally plays little part in Pro Football and we must look to the future.
All Brock’s Christmases perhaps did not come at once on Sunday but on his 25th birthday, a first career start and pro victory were indeed a wonderful gift. His presence, not his presents, stood out for me.
He looked and sounded confident all week, he stood tall in the pocket and put together impressive numbers in his first career outing as Denver’s starter. His turnover free stats of 19 of 26 for 232 yards and 2 touchdowns garnered him a passing rating of 125.8. That would lead the NFL ahead of of Peyton’s career nemesis Tom Brady on 111.1.
Although Brock deserves his place under center, after one game he has not yet earned the right to be mentioned in the venerated company of Brady and Manning.
There are obvious comparisons to Aaron Rodgers though as like the Green Bay gunslinger, he had to bide his time and make most of the opportunity to observe and learn from a bona fida legend – two – if you include Elway.
Montana’s Man Mountain assured us that he ‘has not wasted a single moment’ of his time with Peyton Manning and has sought to replicate the New Orleans Native in his thorough preparation and attention to detail – even contacting all Denver’s draftees to welcome them to the team.
He addressed the players on Saturday telling them not to worry about him and they would get the job done. They did, albeit it just. Brock did not give the impression of a lost rookie searching for guidance but of a man in full command of his offense, huddle and teammates.
Osweiler made some mistakes today, holding onto the ball too long, tripping Hillman and sliding to the floor in a fashion that would have even made Peyton squirm. However that only proved he already learned from last week where in his eagerness he took too many unnecessary blows.
Given the chance to lead the ship, he looked composed, calm and collected. More importantly he was careful, not losing a single turnover. For the first time this season we scored a touchdown on the first possession and did not give up a single interception. He did it without Emmanuel Sanders too, a huge weapon in our offense.
I, for one, was convinced and can only hope Coach Kubiak, like Scoorge took heed of the learning points presented to him.
Osweiler is no phantom fix but instead a vision of hope. The future is Orange, the future is Brock.