It’s not just that Peyton Manning has led the Denver Broncos to a 5-0 start, shattering individual and team offense records in the process. It’s not just that his 1,884 yards passing, 20 TDs, and only one interception have people talking about whether or not these are the best receivers with whom he has ever played.
It’s also this: he has been so much better than anybody else. Take note of the following.
- His standard QB rating is 136.4. The closest to him? Tony Romo with a 114.3 rating, followed by Philip Rivers (111.7), Drew Brees (107.4), and Aaron Rodgers (105.5).
- According to the weekly grades given by Pro Football Focus, where zero (0.0) is an average grade, Manning has a cumulative 22.0 rating overall. The next closest is Romo with a 14.8 rating, followed by Andrew Luck with a 14.3 mark.
- Total QBR, which is the metric ESPN created to account for situations and to level the playing field for QBs who do not pass as frequently, is on a scale of 1-100. Manning’s QBR is 92.0. The next closest? Rivers with a 78.5, followed by Brees with a 77.7 and Luck with a 77.1.
- Football Outsiders uses DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) to measure how valuable a player is, per play, over an average quarterback in the same situation. Manning’s DVOA is a ridiculous 72.0%. The next closest QB is his AFC west colleague Rivers at 35.9%. That is a huge gap.
- Also from Football Outsiders, DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement) measures “the value of the quarterback ‘s performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage.” Manning’s DYAR is 1,138. In second is Rivers with 658, followed by Matt Ryan with 596. Ridiculous.
In a league where offensive stats are sometimes watered down or found to be less impressive because of huge numbers across the league, Manning still stands tall above the rest. The 2013 version of the NFL is built for quarterbacks to fill up the stat sheet; Manning is doing a far better job of taking advantage than any of his peers. Nobody, not Tom Brady or Brees or Rodgers, is anywhere close to Peyton Manning’s production right now.
Some of this will change as the Broncos schedule actually shows some teeth, and some of it will change as other quarterbacks get their chances for big games. But still, there was some question a year ago if this guy could cut it at all after numerous neck surgeries. For him to be really good or even great again is one thing; for him to be dominant at a historic clip is entirely another.
In a league with extraordinary depth at the quarterback position and in a league where the nature of the QB position is supposedly undergoing a huge change due to the read option and guys like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, it’s pretty darn impressive to see Peyton Manning leave the league in the dust, one pass from the pocket at a time.