2009 Production: 393-of-571 (68.8 percent) for 4,500 yards, 33 touchdowns, 16 interceptions. Rating: 99.9.
Despite the numerous amount of talented NFL quarterbacks, the No. 1 spot wasn't much of a dilemma for me. Being the most productive player in the 90-year history of the sport isn't as relevant as Manning's continued ability to remain productive in spite of so many team-changes.
He loses a future Hall of Fame head coach, his teammates appear to fall victim to some sort of injury-plague year after year, yet Manning remains consistent. In 2009, he was backed by the least productive running-game in the entire league and lost his starting wide receiver who was replaced by two late-round draft picks. Still, his Colts manage to win 94 percent of the games they actually attempted to win.
In the process, he helped set an NFL record by leading seven fourth-quarter comebacks. When facing the league's No. 1 defense in the AFC Championship game (a team that held Drew Brees to zero touchdowns and only allowed three touchdown passes in their previous seven games), Manning delivered one of the greatest performances in NFL history by going 26-of-39 for 377 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, to post a 123.6 quarterback rating against a team that held all of their previous opponents (not named Peyton) to an average of a 59.7 quarterback rating.
What I think:
With a running game that can only improve (it would be virtually impossible to get worse) and the return of key players such as Anthony Gonzalez and Bob Sanders, the sky is the limit for Indianapolis in 2010. The return of Gonzalez expands the Colts' passing game and a healthier defense can help make things easier on the offensive side of the ball.
Beyond the record-setting production and all of his records, it is the other things Manning does on the football field that sets him aside from all his contemporaries. His ability to call plays, orchestrate advanced audibles and run the most sophisticated offense in NFL history are not factors that become apparent on any stat sheet, but they are reflected in Manning's ability to remain more consistent than any quarterback in league history.
Defenses continue to adjust, game plan and attack the Colts' one-dimensional offense with little success. In spite of an injured and often suspect offensive line, Manning has become the least sacked quarterback in the league due to a quick release and a pocket presence that's unprecedented.
Logically, one would have to think that he couldn't continue to do this year after year; but he's been proving us wrong for over a decade now so I've learned to take the hint.