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There is a great reason Peyton Manning is always in discussion for league MVP each season. No player has a bigger impact at elevating his whole team than Manning.
For years, detractors always tried to credit the success to the other parts.
It was because Manning had Edgerrin James, until he did not have him, and immediately won a Super Bowl. Afterwards, Manning had the worst running game in football and still kept winning and passing at a high level.
It was because Manning had Marvin Harrison, until he was hurt in 2007 and Reggie Wayne stepped up to have a season with 104 catches for 1,510 yards. Now Manning is turning Demaryius Thomas into a star No. 1 receiver in Denver.
It was because GM Bill Polian spent first-round picks on skill players like Dallas Clark and Anthony Gonzalez, until they kept getting injured and Manning won a MVP by instantly turning Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie into household names, followed by Jacob Tamme a year later. Now we see Eric Decker elevating himself in Denver with Manning.
It was because Manning had linemen like Tarik Glenn and Jeff Saturday, even though Manning has continued to take historically few sacks every year because of his playing style, and still gets it done with a bust of a left tackle like Tony Ugoh, or the unheralded cast in Denver this year.
It was because Manning had Tom Moore as his offensive coordinator all those years in Indianapolis. Think of their relationship as Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke was a better Jedi who always had it in him, but just needed the guidance at a young age.
The truth is that no offensive coordinator has had an easier job than Moore, who consulted the New York Jets last season.
At least not many people use the head coaches (Jim Mora, Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell). Manning will try to win at least 13 games in one season with a fourth different head coach (John Fox). Only three other quarterbacks in NFL history (Joe Montana, Brett Favre and Philip Rivers) have even done that with two coaches, let alone three or four.
Was it the perfect conditions in the dome all those years? Guess that one has been dying out too seeing as how Manning has played more (and played better) outdoor games than indoor games since 2008.
Get the point? Fourteen seasons should be enough proof by now. No matter which pieces you want to move around, as long as Manning is a constant it becomes a successful season.
The only thing that has stopped Manning are the four neck surgeries that cost him his 2011 season, and the Colts collapsed to a 2-14 record despite having a healthier roster that was very similar to the 2010 team that went 10-6 and made the playoffs.
But now with the Broncos, Manning is putting in one of his most impressive seasons yet, and has quickly turned his new team into the Denver Colts.
Mind sharp as ever, the loss of arm strength may have actually improved his game as he is forced to be more accurate and smarter with his throws this season.
Could Fox put in the raw rookie Brock Osweiler and play some more “Fox Ball” to get another fortunate 8-8 season? That is not very likely.
But with Manning, the Broncos, just like the Colts, feel they are never out of any game no matter the score, the opponent, where it is played or who is healthy and playing.
Try spelling “MVP” without Peyton Manning’s initials.
Scott Kacsmar writes for Cold, Hard Football Facts, NBC Sports, Colts Authority, and contributes data to Pro-Football-Reference.com and NFL Network. You can visit his blog for a complete writing archive, and can follow him on Twitter at @CaptainComeback.