As another season of NFL football is set to roll along, so too will be the league's top quarterback. Always a staple of consistency, I expect the reigning league MVP to continue that trend in 2009.
While other positions often appear to be in a state of flux, the best quarterback in the NFL has managed to secure that position over the course of the past decade.
Although other really good quarterbacks have come and gone, nobody has even approached the level of consistency which Manning has personified.
He's thrown for over 3,700 yards for the 11th season in a row. That would be every year of his career. He's thrown over 25 touchdown passes for 11 years in a row. While earning a league-record third league MVP award in 2008, Manning also eclipsed the 4,000-yard passing mark for the ninth time in his career!
To put that into perspective, Dan Marino is in second place with six such seasons.
Manning's ability to remain productive is absolutely amazing.
He lost his star running back in Edgerrin James in 2006, no problem. Spent a great deal of the 2007 season playing with an offensive line that consisted half of second-stringers, yet still no problem. Two knee surgeries in the 2008 offseason, no problem, as Manning became the league's MVP.
The only man who could have given Manning any slight run for his money regarding the top spot of the quarterback position would have been Tom Brady but after his knee sustained significant damage and Manning succeeded to the extent he did in 2008, Brady has once again been knocked down to a pretty distant second place.
Still, Peyton alone is not the only reason why he is poised for a big 2009 season.
The loss of Marvin Harrison might even prove to be a blessing in disguise, as Manning can build a better rapport with Anthony Gonzalez.
Since the Colts' running game couldn't possibly get much worse (after being ranked 31st in 2008), I expect the combination of an improving rushing attack and a healthy offense (both the offensive line and receiving core) to elevate Manning to a superior level once again.
With new Head Coach Jim Caldwell and new Defensive Coordinator Larry Coyer, the Colts have the potential to build towards the future. Although many other pieces might be coming and going, Peyton Manning will remain the constant.
Weeks before the NFL Draft, I couldn't be more excited for the 2009 NFL season.