Denver Broncos: 5 Players Peyton Manning Must Trust in 2012
The level of success that the Denver Broncos achieve this season will be largely determined on how quickly the new acquired Peyton Manning and the rest of the offense build trust and consistency. Manning was fortunate enough to spend the first 14 years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, where he was always surrounded by the same coaches and players.
Now Manning will start a new chapter in his career with new players and coaches. The window in which the Broncos will have a chance to win a Super Bowl with Manning is small. Most believe that Manning has another three seasons of production left in him and the Broncos will be a legitimate threat in the AFC if he manages to stay healthy. Here are a handful of players that Manning must build trust with before the games start to count in September.
Ryan Clady will be responsible for protecting Peyton Manning's blindside, thus it's very important that Manning has full confidence in his ability.
This shouldn't be a problem since Clady is solid at left tackle, participating in the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2011.
Some analysts think Clady may have regressed, but this might have been due to the change in offensive philosophy the Broncos underwent last season.
Once Tim Tebow took over the starting role in Denver, the team was forced to focus on running the ball more. This was somewhat unfortunate for Clady, who is a better pass blocker than run blocker.
With Manning under center, the Broncos will throw the ball a lot more this season, which should be just fine with Clady.
Clady has been dependable since the Broncos selected him with 12th pick in the 2008 Draft; he has yet to miss a single start.
Hopefully for the Broncos, Clady will be able to stay healthy and keep Manning upright in 2012.
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Eric Decker led the Denver Broncos in every major receiving category last season, but he still has a lot of room to improve.
Luckily for Decker, Peyton Manning should be able to help him develop his game.
Decker has good size and is already a solid route runner, but Manning will want him to be a perfect route runner.
The opportunity to play with Manning isn't one that Decker is taking for granted.
Decker's size also makes him a good red-zone option; he found the end zone eight times last season.
As for any team, red-zone efficiency will be one of the most important factors in determining how successful the Broncos offense will be this season.
Manning will need to trust Decker to get open in the red zone where every play is even more important.
The Broncos receivers will be expected to make more plays this season and a good portion of the production is expected to come from Decker.
If Manning and Decker continue to get along well, it won't be a surprise to see Decker become Denver's new go-to receiver.
Decker converted 29 third downs for the Broncos last season, which led the team.
Expect that number to go up this season as Manning will be looking at Decker on crucial plays this fall.
JD Walton has started every game at center for the Denver Broncos over the last two seasons.
That doesn't mean that he has played well, however. The experts at Pro Football Focus rated JD Walton last in their rankings of starting centers after the 2011 season.
The Broncos aren't expected to draft a center early in the draft, so Walton will likely be the starter come the start of training camp.
Walton allowed a whopping 23 pressures last season, which was the second most allowed by any center. The Broncos will need Walton to perform better this season because they don't need Peyton Manning to be under duress.
Manning will certainly do his best to help Walton improve, but the team may wind up regretting not wooing Jeff Saturday to the Mile High City.
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Matt Prater is the player that the Broncos placed their franchise tag upon this offseason.
Prater is without a doubt one of the best kickers in the NFL from long range.
He is extremely accurate from beyond 50 yards, as he converted 12 out of 16 attempts from beyond midfield last season.
A quarterback must be able to trust that his team's kicker will be able to convert for points when long drives stall.
There will be times this season when the Broncos offense will be facing tough 3rd-and-long situations. Sometimes punting or kicking a field goal are in the best interest of the team.
Manning must trust both Prater and the defense and shouldn't take unnecessary risks. This isn't something that should be a problem, as Manning is a mature player with great knowledge of the game.
Hopefully for the Broncos, Prater and the defense will be able to prove themselves to Manning early on in the season.
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Demaryius Thomas was the first of the Broncos' two first-round selections in the 2010 draft, the second was Tim Tebow.
Thomas is a big, fast receiver who has a huge frame and breakaway speed. Last season, Thomas averaged over 17 yards per reception.
His size (6' 3" 235 pounds) makes it hard for most corners to cover him. Thomas is strong enough to get off the line when being pressed and he also has the speed to beat the defense over the top.
With Peyton Manning now under center, Thomas will have more opportunities to make plays down the field, especially if he improves his route running.
The sooner Manning and Thomas are able to get on the same page, the better off the Broncos offense will be.