The Flaw in Peyton Manning's 2013 Super Bowl Aspirations
No, that wasn't a typo.
Manning was recently quoted for saying that he wants to create an "uncomfortable atmosphere" in Denver; something that will prevent the team from becoming complacent and losing sight of their own self-imposed championship standards.
"I know that John Elway wants to sort of set a kind of an attitude and an edge around here — kind of an uncomfortable atmosphere around here which is something I believe in," Manning said on the first day of voluntary workouts. "Last year was good, but it wasn't great. We're looking for that great season and to finish off with a championship season. We have so much work that we have to do."
If you take a step back for a moment, you'll realize that the Broncos' "Super Bowl standard" is a bit lofty.
In 2012, Manning inherited a team sporting the 24th ranked scoring defense the previous season.
In 2013, Manning was backed by a running game that ranked 23rd in efficiency (yards per-carry).
The support is seemingly there if you look to Denver's 13-4 record last season; but that doesn't change the reality of Manning's actual level of team support.
The same Indianapolis Colts team that started off 0-13 without Manning in 2011 was essentially the same team that sported a 16-0 record (in games Manning finished) before losing to a cheating New Orleans Saints' organization in Super Bowl XLIV.
The point: Manning is all too used to making poor-to-average teams look elite.
So long as he continues to regularly produce at an All-Pro level, the rosters he plays with will continue to be excused for their inadequacies.
Just ask Joseph Addai.
The Broncos handle their business differently than the Colts though.
The above-average (yet far from 'great') roster that fell short in 2012 has been bolstered up with the additions of Wes Welker, Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and Louis Vazquez.
When you pair the aforementioned with the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, it's realistic to have high expectations.
But what will happen if the Broncos actually accomplish their championship goal?
Heading into his 16th NFL season after having already accomplished more as an individual than any player in NFL history, there's not much left for Manning to achieve.
No quarterback since the merger has ever managed to win a Super Bowl with two different organizations.
But then again, no other quarterback has ever won 124 games in a single decade (with a dysfunctional, below-average team no less), no other quarterback has ever been selected to 12 Pro Bowls, no other quarterback has ever been named First-Team All-Pro six times and no other quarterback has ever won four league MVP awards.
Only the ending to the 2013 NFL season has the potential to be so ideal, it may end up harming the Denver Broncos' organization.
Unfortunately, Manning appears to care so much about his legacy that he will continue to strive to satisfy the nonsensical standards of the intellectually inept masses who demand his winning a second championship.
We're talking about the same Manning who spent years playing with nerve problems stemming from his neck injury—the same Manning who played with a bulging disk in his neck during his last active season with the Colts.
He could continue to individually put the greatest résumé in NFL history even further ahead of he who holds the distant second-place distinction, but I feel that Manning is more concerned with satisfying "championship standards" than continuing to illustrate why he's the best individual to ever play the game.
If winning that second Super Bowl motivates Manning to retire after 16 years in the NFL, he will leave the Broncos organization without an Andrew Luck to inherit the mantle.
At least the Colts' caliber sans Manning was atrocious enough to yield them the best draft prospect in 30 years.
The Broncos may be less impressive than you'd think without Manning, but they're nowhere near the embarrassing caliber of Manning's former organization.
If Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl this season, would it be worth it?
Without a "once in a generation" prospect coming up in the 2014 NFL draft and without a No. 1 selection left behind to help build an organization up with, any potential departure of Manning would leave the Broncos in a vulnerable position.
The question is: If winning a Super Bowl means that 2013 will be Manning's final season, might it actually be a bad thing for the Broncos to win the Super Bowl this year?
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report and Featured Writer for www.blindsidefootball.com.
Any questions, comments or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at: email@example.com.
Follow him on Twitter at: @theryanmichael
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