Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass during the NFL divisional playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
In the days following the Denver Broncos season ending loss to the Indianapolis Colts, I was like a lot of other fans. I was frustrated, angry and looking for changes at the quarterback position. I thought, as many people still do, that the Broncos would be better off moving on from Peyton Manning.
Those thoughts lasted a week or so and then I woke up, and realized how insane my thought process had been. Manning should come back and the Broncos should welcome him back with open arms. With Manning the Broncos are Super Bowl contenders, they may not be the favorite but they are contenders. Without Manning, they are an 8-8 team.
Before we usher Manning out to the pasture, let’s actually look at his 2014 season. You know, the one that so many people have pointed to as a down year. Manning threw for over 4,700 yards and 39 touchdowns, so let’s not pretend he was terrible.
I’ll give those who want Manning gone this, he did not play well late in the season and was terrible in the playoffs. I’m not going to make excuses for his play but there were a couple of circumstances working against Manning.
Injuries are never an excuse and Manning would never bring it up but when he hurt his thigh, it severely limited his game. We are just now finding out how bad that injury was and for a guy who needs his lower body, the injury was just too much to fully overcome.
There are some who have said that if he was that hurt, then he should have taken a couple of weeks off. If Manning had done that, those same people would have ripped him for being soft.
Assuming the thigh heals and there’s no reason to believe it won’t, Manning should return to his pre-injury form. For what it’s worth, I believe that Manning originally hurt that thigh in the first game versus the San Diego Chargers in October. To that point, Manning was on roughly the same pace as he was in 2014.
Secondly is this and I won’t beat it to death, but the former coaching staff let Manning and the Broncos down in that playoff game. The game plans on both sides of the ball were terrible, and the team was not prepared to play. Sure the players, including Manning, deserve their share of the blame but John Fox and his staff did nothing to help on that January day.
Now I understand that Manning is now 39 or will be when the season starts and that the odds of another nagging injury are higher, but I’m willing to take that chance. I’m willing to bet on a guy who has thrown for 14,773 yards and 131 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Broncos. Manning has also won 38 regular season games in those three seasons.
It’s true that the playoffs have left a lot to be desired with a blowout loss in the Super Bowl and two inexcusable home losses, but what’s the alternative? Are people really so scared of losing in the playoffs again that they think it would just be easier to go 8-8, and not even qualify? Are we really going to criticize Manning and the Broncos for going to the playoffs every year, and trying to do something great? Sure it’s an awful feeling when they come up short but what would rather have?
Would you rather see the Broncos turn into the Denver Nuggets or Colorado Rockies who are afraid to think big, afraid to talk about championships and afraid to take a risk?
I certainly can’t speak for everyone but sign me up for the team that openly states that their goal is to win a World Championship, and anything else is a failure. Manning gives the Broncos the best chance to accomplish that goal, and the talk of how the Broncos would be better off without him is just foolish.
When Manning is your quarterback; you ride him till he drops or retires and as of now, neither of those things has happened.