The Broncos' organization pretty much decided that by adding Manning everything would be fine. That his skill alone would elevate them into the stratosphere of legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
So far, that theory is falling flat on its face. Denver has looked sluggish to start the season; defensively, they're allowing over 120 yards on the ground per week, and their record stands at a meager 2-3.
The bright side? Those losses have come to some of the best teams in the league in the form of the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and New England Patriots. Still, it is hard to believe that the Broncos thought all their problems were solved after signing Manning to one of the richest contracts in league history.
Are the Denver Broncos Super Bowl Contenders?
The fact is that this team has holes, and plenty of them. The secondary has collected just two interceptions through five weeks, the rushing game has been inconsistent and behind Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, receiving options are paltry to say the least.
Manning is an elite quarterback and a future Hall of Famer, but he alone is not enough to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Denver. The Broncos play in a wide open division where even a few upgrades could ensure an AFC West championship.
Denver is relying entirely on the continued health of Manning to lift the play of the entire offense and guarantee success. That's a lot of pressure on a 36-year old signal caller that appears to have lost velocity on his deeper throws. Perhaps when he was dominating defenses as an Indianapolis Colt that theory could work, and it did in 2007 when the Colts won the Super Bowl.
However, look what happened to Indianapolis when Manning was injured a season ago. The Colts were caught with their tail between their legs, no real contingency plan in place, and a 2-14 record to show for it.
The Broncos must develop Brock Osweiler properly, grooming him for the day when the reins to the franchise become his. The rookie obviously cannot take game snaps right now, but he is the No. 2 guy on the depth chart. Are the Broncos in a position to win games with him under center?
At 30 years old, the tread on Willis McGahee's tires is certainly wearing thin. Knowshon Moreno has consistently proven he is not the next guy, and a weak running game has been a constant knock on Manning-led offenses. If he is going to be the signal caller for the foreseeable future, Denver must have a quality running game in place to provide much-needed balance.
Manning is a tremendous orchestrator of the hurry-up offense and executing quick hitting plays, but he can no longer throw the ball upwards of 35 times a game and expect to win. In fact, the Broncos are just 1-3 this season in games where Manning has more than 35 attempts.
Balance is an essential piece to the Super Bowl puzzle and Denver lacks it. Are there great pieces in place? Of course. Any team would love to have Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas and Peyton Manning.
The problem is that Denver has put too many eggs into the Peyton Manning basket right now, and that could be a problem for the rest of the season.