Peyton Manning Proves Most Deserving To Become the Offensive Player of the Year

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIIJanuary 3, 2011

Peyton Manning's 450 pass-completions in 2010 set the NFL record for most in the 90-year history of the league.
Peyton Manning's 450 pass-completions in 2010 set the NFL record for most in the 90-year history of the league.

Peyton Manning completed 450 passes in 2010, setting the all-time NFL record.

He did NOT need to break the record for passing attempts to do it.

Speaking of attempts, Manning’s 66.3 completion percentage ranked second in the NFL (first in the AFC); higher than that of Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger; all of whom failed to better Manning’s completion percentage despite having the benefit of attempting fewer passes while throwing into nickel+ defensive coverages at a lower rate.

While Manning averages more passing yards per season than anyone in NFL history (4,218 yards per-season despite being statistically-punished for securing playoff position by being forced to warm the bench during the end of six different seasons), his 4,700 yards in 2010 was a career high.

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Speaking of 4,700 passing yards, Manning missed out on the passing championship by ten yards (to Philip Rivers’ 4,710), which has to make him wonder: Did playing with a receiving corps that specialized in dropping the football during 2010 account for a 10 yard difference over the course of the entire season, or was he just unlucky?

Unlucky might be putting his Week 11-13 stretch mildly. During that period, Manning accounted for 11 interceptions, four of which were returned for touchdowns.

You could take into consideration the fact that during that span, the Colts averaged 45.3 rushing yards per-game (2.8 YPC) while their defense allowed their opponents to average 169.7 rushing yards per-game (4.8 YPC).

But why would that be relevant?

Therefore, I refuse to get into why starting off with quick double-digit deficits combined with throwing to practice-squad players swamped with nickel+ coverage’s at a rate above double the league average, led Manning to remain interception-free for 137 of his 148 attempts during that “slump.”

Speaking of “interception-free,” could that be one claim, one compliment, that just for once we can avoid giving to Peyton Manning?

I mean, we can’t forget the interception stretch (even though during that period, he somehow managed to post a higher quarterback rating than Tom Brady did during his undefeated 3-0 postseason run in 2001 that culminated in a Super Bowl MVP).

Manning (Weeks 11-13 in 2010): 77.7

Brady (2001 Postseason): 77.3

Most may not want to forget about those three games; perhaps more specifically the two “interception-return” games which accounted for an entire 12.5 percent of the Colts’ 2010 season.

On the other side of the coin, don’t ask me how Manning managed to go nine entire games without throwing a single interception this season, while turning the ball over at a rate well under his essentially undefeated 2009 MVP season.

During those nine games, Manning was 239 of 360 for 2,582 yards, 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Still, Manning wasn’t the only quarterback to have multiple games with zero interceptions in 2010. Drew Brees did so three times this year. Sure, he threw three interceptions against the ferocious Cardinals’ D and four against the vaunted Browns defense, but everyone has off-days.

Philip Rivers managed to post five interception-free games; Aaron Rodgers had seven!

But don’t sleep on Philip Rivers, who finished strong by going 48 of 77 for 569 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, while posting a 78.3 quarterback rating during his final two games.

Maybe he didn’t have the “big numbers” but when the time came, he got the job done; leading his Chargers to 33 points against a suffocating Broncos defense during the "San Diego Super Bowl” vs. Denver in their season finale…and he did so without the burden of having to throw a single touchdown pass.

But let’s forget about the quarterbacks for now and take a moment to talk about Arian Foster.

Certain to be a likely Offensive Player of the Year candidate, Foster rushed for 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns. While his Texans only managed to win six games all season, voters should not concern themselves by worrying about team records; 6-10 was plenty impressive by Houston’s standards.

With the Colts season on the line, Indianapolis almost matched the Texans win total for the entire season by going 4-0 down the stretch to secure the number three spot on the playoffs; a place which they’ll be returning to for an NFL record 9th consecutive season—extending another of their NFL records to nine consecutive seasons of ten wins or more (10-6 in 2002, 12-4 in 2003, 12-4 in 2004, 14-2 in 2005, 12-4 in 2006, 13-3 in 2007, 12-4 in 2008, 14-2 in 2009 and 10-6 in 2010).

It might prove to be a close call between Manning and Foster, even though we won’t see the Texans take another snap until this coming July. Of course, Manning accounted for 2,498 more yards and 15 more touchdowns (105 additional points) than Foster; but moving your team up and down the field while putting points on the board isn't that relevant to the Offensive Player of the Year award, is it?

Still, some will feel Foster to have been the greater offensive contributor in 2010 and he will thus, earn their votes nevertheless. If both the Colts and Texans share that same point of view, perhaps we’ll see the Indianapolis attempt to trade Manning for Foster during the off-season.

And then we have Michael Vick, with that exciting, explosive offensive running style that places his team at zero risk every time he runs down field without (admittedly) the knowledge of how to slide and protect himself.

Call Manning whatever you’d like but in 13 consecutive seasons, he's missed one snap.

Blair White and Jacob Tamme who both came into this season with zero touchdown receptions in their respective careers, used their immaculate physical gifts to produce more touchdowns together than the combination of Randy Moss and Brandon Marshall in 2010.

Go ahead, give the Offensive Player of the Year award to the player who produced 1,024 fewer yards (yes, even counting the rushing yards), because playing “skirt-style” football has enabled Manning to be there for his team every Sunday.

I’m certain that the Colts would have done fine without Peyton Manning.

Don’t believe what Ray Lewis would tell you (for those who watched the NFL’s Top 100), the Indianapolis Colts would be a very above-average football team without the only four-time league MVP in NFL history...

Who certainly didn’t produce enough or carry his team far enough to warrant the league’s consolation prize.

Peyton Manning: Michael Vick, Arian Foster and Philip Rivers are your masters; as every defensive coordinator in the league would undoubtedly conquer.

That’s why one of the three is likely to walk away with the Offensive Player of the Year award; people have grown tired of seeing trophies with your name on it.

It doesn't matter if your performance on the field warrants another; the public's yearning for something new trumps all of your meaningless yards, touchdowns, and victories.

17 players on the injured reserve; ha!

Excuses, excuses; better luck next year.


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