If you haven’t been seeing the havoc Peyton Manning is causing this year, then you probably haven’t been watching much football.
At 37 years old, Manning has put together one of the best stat lines through five weeks of any NFL season. He’s thrown for 1,884 yards with a 75.8 completion percentage and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 20-1. He has an insane quarterback rating of 136.4 and has been simply phenomenal.
Regardless of how the Denver Broncos’ season turns out, it looks like this could not only be Manning’s best season, but possibly the greatest performance by a quarterback in a single season ever.
At the rate he’s going, Manning is set to crush the single-season passing record (Drew Brees’ 5,476 yards in 2011) and the touchdown record (Tom Brady’s 50 touchdowns in 2007). After crunching the numbers, Manning is on pace to throw for 6,029 yards and 64 touchdowns. If his statistics at the end of the season are anywhere near his projected numbers, then he will undoubtedly have completed the best regular season for an NFL quarterback ever.
There’s a lot of hubbub about how the quarterback position is evolving because guys like Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are ushering in the new era of mobile passers, but good ol’ No. 18 is proving that solid mechanics and technique in the pocket reigns supreme—although it was pretty fun seeing him scamper into the end zone for a touchdown last night.
When looking at the rest of Denver's schedule, Manning will only be facing a couple of challenging defenses, leaving the window wide open for him to reach 6,000 yards passing. Hell, he could very well throw for a few thousand yards next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. I'm kidding, of course, but the Jags are just one of the underwhelming defenses he will be taking on this season.
What will also work in Manning's favor is the placement of the Broncos' bye week. They'll have their week off right in the middle of the season (Week 9), allowing Manning's body to have a nice bit of rest before the rest of the season grinds down.
While he was always in the conversation for the “best quarterback ever” moniker, this season could very well put him over the top. He’s arguably on the best team he’s ever been on, and he's showing no signs of aging. Outside of his one interception this season, Manning has been otherworldly.
Especially in yesterday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, Manning was a perfect example of “anything you can do, I can do better.” It seemed as if every time Dallas shifted the momentum in their favor, Manning and the Broncos would take it right back.
When you put things in perspective, his projected numbers are even more impressive given the fact that it was just over a year ago when people questioned whether Manning would ever play again after getting neck surgery. Well, it is now clear that no one should ever question Manning’s ability.
What’s most ironic is that the big boss upstairs in Denver (John Elway) predicted a 6,000-yard passer back in January of this year during a radio interview on New York’s WFAN with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton. I’m sure Elway never expected it to be the quarterback on his own team, but I’m willing to bet he’s a happy camper right about now.
Yes, a 6,000-yard passer was unheard a few years ago, but it is absolutely possible with Manning. Back when Dan Marino threw for 5,084 yards, no one thought that record could be broken, and it stood for 24 years before Brees and Brady showed him up.
That same year, Matthew Stafford threw for 5,038 yards, proving that numbers for quarterbacks are going to start exploding with the way the NFL is going. Nowadays, a 5,000-yard passer is impressive, but it's been done a few times before.
It's no secret the NFL is "passing league," and Manning's success this season just goes to show what has become possible for quarterbacks to do these days.
Manning has done and won everything you can do and win in the NFL, yet he’s still coming for everyone’s heads week after week. He’s already toppled more than 30 NFL records in his career. What’s a couple more?