Welcome to my first Postgame Linebacker post.
Given the opportunity to host a weekly column by denverbroncosuk.com, I settled down to watch the home game versus Kansas City Chiefs wondering what would unfold and if I would be able to garner enough snippets to piece together an introductory column.
I am not au-fait with all the Roman deities, but if indeed there is a God of Writing, he looked kindly upon me last night. The Sporting God less so!
Records were broken, hearts were broken and one has to wonder, was a man broken?
When you set a new and significant NFL record and no one is talking about it, you appreciate something seismic must have happened.
Peyton Manning didn’t want any fuss made when he broke the passing record and how he shifted the discussion from that topic!
A keen football historian, he understood the accomplishment had to be recognised and went along with a break in the game that in his own words amounted to ‘an awkward stoppage of the game’. There was a brief announcement and applause from the crowd but no fireworks. Instead, there was an implosion that could be heard all around the National Football League.
In probably the night’s only smooth exchange involving No18, the ball that nudged Manning past Brett Favre’s previous pace setting mark on a 4 yard flip to Ronnie Hillman was efficiently retrieved and handed to Joe Horrigan – an emissary from Canton Ohio in order for it to be put on display and recorded for posterity. The commentator joked Peyton now had enough memorabilia in the museum to open his own wing.
The new NFL all-time passing leader has long been heralded as being a step ahead and he proved that again last night, for even before the Hall Of Fame was mentioned, he had already begun to look like a bust.
Yes, his day was covered in the brown stuff and I don’t mean bronze!
In his days with the Colts, I was never a great admirer of Manning. I found his play, in all honesty, boringly efficient. Today he is neither.
Everytime he drops back to pass, I wince – unsure if it is going to be a perfect spiral delivered between the numbers or a gift to the expectant hands of the opposition. Yesterday, he tossed 4 interceptions, one for every million Denver thought they had saved when they restructured his contract. His turnover total could have easily have been 8 bar a few drops and a saving fingertip catch from Demayrius Thomas.
As Peyton was put out his misery and relieved by the man mountain that is Brock Osweiler, we were left to wonder if it was an end of an era.
What it undeniably should be is the end of an error. I understand Peyton’s legacy and accomplishments cast a large shadow over his current statistics. Yes, he played exceptionally well against Green Bay and was passable against Indianapolis but over the past 16 games (this season and last), those two games were the statistical outliers. What cannot continue to pervade the air is that an anything less than a fully fit Peyton Manning can aid the Denver Broncos.
Gary Kubiak has accepted responsibility for playing Manning when he was not fit, there was a problem with his foot and his ribs. It looked to me that he was struggling to scramble away from the persistent pass rush – but then he has appeared that way for all 18 of his NFL years!
In all seriousness, he seemed unable to plant his foot solidly and thus struggled to generate the power from his legs required to compensate for the lack of arm strength that diminished after his repeated neck surgeries. Not only should Peyton not have started, he should have been yanked much earlier, a mercy killing if you will.
The iron willed Manning himself has to be stronger mentally. You do not survive in this league for 18 years, let alone thrive, if you are not a true competitor and of course you need to possess an ego with regards to your self-worth. However, he must realise by taking to the field injured, he is actually hurting his team. Furthermore, the cynical but legal hit Emmanuel Sanders endured was a result of a floated pass by Manning so you could argue, he is actually putting his receivers in danger.
Osweiler looked capable operating the offense though difficult to judge as the game was already beyond us. It was refreshing to see the Brock of Montana stand up to the pass rush and wrestle his way free to gain yards. That said, I am sure he will learn very quickly no matter how tall or heavy you are, it is better to avoid the contact when you can. He did enough though to make me #brocktomistic.
The number one seed is beyond us and the teams in the rear of the AFC West are too inconsistent to catch us. So I say let Peyton heal, give Brock his shot next week at Chicago and evaluate the future thereafter.
Manning has one win to break another record, we owe him that much. Peyton himself is the ultimate team player, consistently deferring praise of all his achievements to his teammates.
The Denver Broncos must be bigger than one player and need to make the tough decisions for the good of the team and for the sake of the season.