Peyton Manning: 5 Reasons Why New Bronco Era Will Get off to Rocky Start
The Broncos barely made the playoffs last season with Tim Tebow at quarterback, so it stands to reason that the Broncos should at least make the playoffs with Peyton Manning as quarterback.
Manning is 6’5” with a huge arm, great accuracy and he reads defenses as if he was told what the play was beforehand. He has also won a Super Bowl, numerous MVP titles and holds countless passing records.
Add to Manning a veteran running back in Willis McGahee and two young receivers looking to take the next step in Damarious Thomas and Eric Decker, and Denver should feel confident that the offense will lead the team to the postseason.
It is not that easy, though, or every team without an elite quarterback would have tried to sign Manning.
The Broncos have a number of challenges facing Manning that could lead to a disappointing first season.
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Despite what some may think in that Manning’s injury will affect him, the real concern should be with the amount of time he has been away from the game. It will be more why Manning gets sacked in the first place than questioning if he will get back up.
Before Manning’s injury, the guy could have written a college course on how to read defenses and play the quarterback position. He would read the defense, audible, and the new play would be exactly what was needed for the offense to move the ball.
Now he has missed an entire season, and he is on a completely new team. He could struggle to get re-acclimated to the speed and complexity of the NFL.
Mike Klis of The Denver Post even believes that Peyton may need a year to “shake off rust and regain arm strength.”
It is unknown how long it will take Manning to adjust to being back—if it takes any time at all— but if he struggles to regain his footing, it could cost Denver this season.
Jeff Saturday No Longer Under Center
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Quarterbacks like Manning and running backs and receivers may get all the fame, but people do not understand that the true skill positions are on the offensive line, especially at center.
In the case of Peyton Manning, he may have received all the awards, but he would not be as successful if Jeff Saturday was not his center.
Saturday should have at least been nominated for MVP for all the years he spent with Manning. Handling all of Peyton's calls and signals must have been like studying engineering and taking a medical school exam all the while practicing law.
J.D. Walton may do a decent job, but he will not be Jeff Saturday. Tests should have been done during Manning’s reign as a Colt because I am not convinced he and Saturday did not have some kind of telepathic connection.
Saturday had been Manning’s center since 2000, and now that he is gone, it would not be a surprise if communication becomes a problem this season.
Peyton’s Role in a Run-First Offense
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Another overlooked challenge this season could be the Broncos' offensive scheme.
Manning had been part of a fast-paced offense that kept defenses on its feet with countless adjustments made at the line of scrimmage as well as a high-powered pass game.
With the Broncos, it will not be the same.
Head Coach John Fox has always been a more conservative coach that likes to focus on running the ball. The Colts had not had a steady running game since the team won the Super Bowl.
A more balanced offense may do well for Peyton, as it will put less pressure on him and keep defenses uneasy. It may also hurt him because he has never played in another system outside of the Colts.
Rhythm is crucial for a quarterback, but the new offense may hurt the rhythm Manning has had for the last decade.
Peyton’s Troubling History against San Diego
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Not only was it interesting that Peyton Manning would sign with a team that had such slow-paced offense, but it was also interesting that he would choose to go into a division where his nemesis resides.
Since 2007, Norv Turner and Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers have beaten Manning four times. The one time the Chargers did lose to Manning was redeemed later that season by beating Peyton and the Colts in the playoffs.
The great quarterback has only 10 touchdowns against 13 interceptions versus the Chargers during this period of time. Maybe he has chosen to confront his nemesis, or maybe his past is lurking in the back of his mind.
The Chargers will be a huge obstacle for the Broncos to hurdle if the team wants to repeat as division champions, but it will require Manning to keep the past in the past or else it will come back to haunt him.
Much Improved AFC West
McFadden could single-handedly return Oakland to the playoffs
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Besides the Chargers, the biggest reason Peyton and the Broncos could struggle is that the rest of the AFC West is much improved compared to last season.
The Oakland Raiders has always been a team that plays better inside the division.
Oakland will also have Carson Palmer for a full season. With receivers like Denarious Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey looking to build on last season, Palmer and the passing game will be very potent.
And if Oakland does not make a move for the division, the Kansas City Chiefs will.
The Chiefs were hit hard by injuries, but now Kansas City is a sexy pick to win the AFC West in 2012.
Jamaal Charles returns and will be joined by Peyton Hillis to form what could be a top-end backfield. Matt Cassel returns from injury, and he will have two big targets to throw to in Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin.
When the offense is done building a lead, the great Chief defense will make sure it holds.
Eric Berry returns from injury and will look to establish himself as one of the best safeties in the NFL.
Also, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston form one of the fiercest pass-rushing duos in the NFL.
Between his greatest nemesis in the Chargers, a team that plays against the division like it is a playoff team in the Raiders, and possibly the best all-around team in the division, Manning and the Broncos are going to be in for one of the most difficult seasons of any team in 2012.