Is Peyton Manning Done or Just Adjusting to the New Approach on Offense


Dec 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) prepares to pass in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It would be foolish to not acknowledge the fact that Peyton Manning is going through a slump right not, but it would be just as foolish to believe he won’t come out of it. Is it possible that Manning just went downhill that quickly? I suppose but I believe there are other factors, factors that should be ironed out as time goes on.

The Denver Broncos have changed the identity of their offense over the past three weeks, and Manning is going through an adjustment period. He has always been a rhythm passer for his entire career and now the Broncos are running the football upwards of 60% of the time. It’s going to take some time for Manning to adjust to not throwing the football 70% of the time.

Secondly is the fact that the coaches, namely Adam Gase, have to do a better job of helping Manning out while he adjusts. The fact that the Broncos are running the ball so well is great but they’ve almost gone too far the other way at times.

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Now that they’ve established the running game, maybe it’s time to take a page out of Mike Shanahan’s playbook from the late 90’s. The Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls on the legs of Terrell Davis but if you go back and watch the games in those years, they often threw the ball early. That allowed John Elway to get into the flow of the game and then when he was asked to throw off of play action later, he already had a feel because the Broncos did throw early.

In the last three games, all wins by the way, the Broncos have come out with the express purpose of showing everyone that they could run the ball. Manning has gone up to 10 plays in those games without throwing a pass and for a rhythm passer, that’s going to be difficult for him.

Manning does need to adjust to the new offense because the way the Broncos are playing now is the recipe for winning in the playoffs, but the coaches need to help him adjust.

I also understand that many fans, not all, look at the St. Louis Rams and the Buffalo Bills, and fall into the trap of thinking they are not very good football teams. However those two teams have two of the best front seven’s in football, and it’s no disgrace for any quarterback to struggle against them.

As for Sunday versus the Bills, Manning was without two of his primary targets. Yes, Demaryius Thomas played but he was hurting and Julius Thomas did not play despite being active in case of an emergency. Injuries are never an excuse but take away Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman from Tom Brady, and see if the New England Patriots offense looks the same.

The Broncos decided that if they wanted to win the Super Bowl, then they had to change their approach and there are going to be growing pains. What’s remarkable is the fact that they are still winning while making those changes, and they are not getting enough credit for that.

They’ve won the last three games using a great offensive performance versus the Miami Dolphins and by using defense, a running game and special teams to beat the Kansas City Chiefs and the Bills.

Now some of the same people who were complaining about the Broncos not being tough enough are now not happy with the fact that they aren’t scoring 40 points a week. Given the choice between a 40-27 win and a 29-16 win, I’ll take the 29-16 win every single time.

Again no one is disputing that Manning is struggling but guess what, the Broncos are winning and winning fairly comfortably despite his struggles. That’s the sign of a very good football team, a team that can win games in a variety of different ways.

Is it over for Manning? Time will tell but I firmly believe that it is more about him adjusting to a new offense and just like he always has, he will figure it out.