Breaking Down Peyton Manning's Ability to Throw Right

Christopher Hansen@ChrisHansenNFLNFL AnalystAugust 22, 2012

Peyton Manning is not 100 percent healthy. It's been said over and over in Denver, and it's getting old. Manning has been able to play, and he's just as cerebral as he ever was. But physically he's not himself.

With only two weeks until the 2012 NFL regular season, Manning's health is a very real concern for the Broncos. If he's not fully healthy after an entire training camp, he may never be fully healthy. It's been 15 months since Manning's first neck surgery and almost a year since he had vertebrae fused in his neck. 

According to an ESPN report, Manning is having trouble throwing to his right, particularly on throws greater than 10 yards. If any player can overcome an arm strength deficiency, Manning can. (Chad Pennington did it for years.)

The problem here is that ESPN simply quoted two of their own, John Clayton and Matt Williamson, and didn't provide any supporting evidence. Not that the evidence doesn't exist, but it would be interesting to see what led Williamson and Clayton to that conclusion. 


Supporting Evidence

Deep Attempt to the Right

This wasn't the only time the Broncos ran this play (see: passing offense play No. 2). The other was a deep completion on the left side in the two-minute drill.

Offensive Personnel: Three WRs, one TE, one RB (shotgun)

Manning gets good protection, so there is no reason this throw shouldn't have good zip and accuracy.

The pass wobbles and sails over the head of Jacob Tamme for no apparent reason. After charting all of Manning's throws this preseason, this was his only attempt of more than 20 yards.


Deepest Completion to the Right

Manning's deepest completion to the right also happens to be a good example of his struggles.

Offensive Personnel: Three WRs, one TE, one RB

Again, good protection for Manning, and there is nothing as far as pressure is concerned to impact his throw.

It might be hard to tell from this shot, but this throw lacked zip for only being 19 yards down the field. The announcer even used the term "floated" when describing the play in real time. Notice here that Eric Decker has good separation on the defensive back.

This pass was completed to Eric Decker, but the pass was a little behind Decker, and it slowed him down enough to make it easy for the defender to drag him down. Not totally out of the norm for such a pass, but worth noting considering the trajectory of the throw.


Best Velocity Throw to the Right

Offensive Personnel: Three WRs, one TE, one RB

This actually is a very interesting play design. It's a clear-out concept, and any of the receivers can get the ball depending on how the defense covers the play. This type of play utilized Manning's ability to read the defense pre- and post-snap.

The combination of patterns on the right is designed in such a way that one of the three options should be open and Manning simply needs to hit whichever one the defense can't cover. For the defense to cover all three, the linebackers would have to cover outside and should open up the shallow crossing route. If all else fails, there is a running back check down in the left flat. 

Manning's pass here has plenty of zip. It's only a 15-yard pass, but it had the best velocity of any pass to his right. 

Brandon Stokley makes the catch and fights forward for a few more yards.


Worst Throw to the Right

Offensive Personnel: Three WRs, one TE, one RB (shotgun)

This was a simple, quick throw to Manning's right. The pass doesn't travel far and wobbles all the way to his intended receiver. 

It's a completion for a solid gain, but the throw was quite interesting. Manning's wobbling duck of a throw only travels 11 yards in the air, and his receiver has to catch it above his head. That's not something you typically see from Manning. In fact, he has completed five other short passes to his right without the same issue this preseason.


The Data

Peyton Manning isn't favoring his throws and has attempted the same number of passes to both sides this preseason. Clearly he hasn't recognized his own limitations, or he's still trying to work out the kinks.

Manning has thrown three wobbling or floating passes to his right compared to none to the middle or left side. He only has two incomplete passes to his left—one was a drop—compared with four to his right.

For all we know Manning can't throw deep at all, as he's yet to complete a pass that travels in the air for more than 20 yards. It's a relatively small data set, but there's enough evidence to suggest that this bears watching going forward.