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Peyton Manning: we’re asking the wrong question


Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Can Peyton Manning throw the ball deep in cold weather?

That’s the wrong question. He continues to be perfectly successful throwing deep in the cold.

Take his three most noteworthy “cold” games in the last 12 months.

Against the Baltimore Ravens in last year’s playoff loss, Manning attempted only two passes over 20 yards. As for passes from 10-19 yards, he went 10-13 for 135 yards, one TD and no interceptions. Both of his interceptions, including the crippling one in overtime, were a pass attempt of less than nine yards (stats courtesy of ProFootballFocus).

Two weeks ago against the New England Patriots, Manning attempted only a single pass over 20 yards (it was incomplete). But on passes from 10-19 yards, he posted the following numbers (also from ProFootballFocus):

Outside the numbers to the left: 3-3, 37 yards, 1 TD and a 157.6 rating
Down the middle: 1-2, 10 yards and a TD
Outside the numbers to the right: o-4

Those are hardly spectacular numbers, but they also show that he was able to get the job done in the most brutal of conditions. To be clear, lots of quarterbacks would have struggled in that weather, not just Manning.

Finally, there was last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. According to ProFootballFocus, the show Manning put on against one of the best secondaries in the league, in the cold, broke down like this on throws of 20+ yards: 5-6, 212 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT

When he takes those shots, in cold weather and against elite defenses, the results are just fine. What’s more significant than the wobbly passes or the inaccurate perception that he cannot throw in the cold is his lack of attempts down field in those situations. That makes this the correct question to ask:

Will Peyton Manning throw the ball deep in cold weather?

If he does, the results are there. The problem is that he doesn’t always pull the trigger; this was especially obvious against Baltimore last year when he only had the one attempt. It was his decision to not take those shots, as opposed to his inability to do so, that hurt the Broncos.

You can speculate that he plays differently in the cold because he doesn’t trust himself in those situations or because he believes the results would ultimately not work out in his favor. But right now, small sample size or not, Manning needs to prove that he is willing to throw it deep in any condition because he has already proven that he can and do serious damage.

Will he, not can he…that’s the question we need to ask.