When it comes to football, Peyton Manning leaves no stone unturned in his preparation. He’s been known to dip footballs in buckets of water in an effort to prepare for bad weather, he watches more film than most coaches and his wrath on the practice field does not discriminate. Manning is just as likely to scream at a veteran like Demaryius Thomas as he is an undrafted rookie.
So when General Manager John Elway said that one of the goals this past offseason was to get tougher, it should surprise no one that Manning has taken the lead on that front too.
Manning has been testy, even for him, through training camp and came to a head when he was penalized for taunting in the loss to the Houston Texans. One play after wide receiver Wes Welker had been knocked out of the game with a concussion on a questionable hit by Texans safety DJ Swearinger, Manning threw a touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders.
The touchdown pass was not unusual, that’s how Manning usually responds but his actions after that raised eyebrows. Manning raced to the end zone and got in Swearinger’s face; he was obviously not pleased with the hit that knocked Welker out of the game. When the referee said, “Personal foul, taunting, #18” I think everyone said “What?” I know I did.
On Thursday, Manning was fined $8,200 for that taunting penalty and his response was perfect. Manning said, “I accept the fine, money well spent.”
With that single act and quote, Manning made a statement. This is a tougher football team and we will not be pushed around this season. This latest incident is getting the most play and rightfully so, but Manning has not been in a good mood for most of training camp.
Following the first practice with the Texans last week, Manning was asked what he thought about that day’s work. He was not shy or timid in his response, “We sucked, they kicked our butts.” He then cautioned people to quit talking about the Broncos being ready for the regular season.
Manning has also displayed his usual impatience for on the field mistakes and was obviously not pleased with the offense’s performance versus the Texans. It’s my belief that the starters were not supposed to play the entire first half in that game, but Manning changed that plan. You could see how unhappy he was and how determined he was to put points on the board; the Broncos scored 14 points in the last two minutes of the half.
It was Elway who first said that the Broncos needed to be a tougher team in 2014 and then he backed it up in free agency. Since then Manning, along with players like Terrance Knighton, DeMarcus Ware and TJ Ward, have picked up the torch.
What does all of this tell us? It tells us that the Super Bowl loss to the Seattle Seahawks did not sit well with Manning and the Denver Broncos. Instead of trying to move past that as so many teams do, the Broncos are remembering it and using it as fuel for this season.
There’s an edge and an anger to this team, and no one has exemplified that more than Manning. He’s angry and that’s a good thing!