After the Broncos lost to the Falcons on Monday Night, backup quarterback Brock Osweiler said he was prepared to go in for the Hail Mary in place of Peyton Manning if the team needed him to. Naturally, a number of people have viewed this as an indication that Manning is struggling with his arm strength, but in reality the former Arizona State quarterback has a cannon for an arm. Even in his prime, Manning’s arm probably wasn’t as strong as Osweiler’s.
If Denver needs a 70-yard prayer at the end of a game, it makes sense to bring in the guy who can throw it further. However, the comment raised questions because it came after an uninspiring three-interception performance from Manning. Now, many are wondering if Peyton is healthy.
Healthy? Seems like it. Back to full strength? I don’t think so. Manning is 36 years old and missed an entire season last year. His skills would likely be declining at this stage in his career regardless, so having missed a year with a serious injury certainly didn’t help. The alarming thing for Broncos fans on Monday was that Manning’s interceptions weren’t necessarily the result of poor decision-making. On at least two of the picks and possibly all three, it simply looked like Manning couldn’t make the throw.
A tremendous stat line for Peyton in Denver’s opener was encouraging, but let’s not forget Demaryius Thomas took a simple wide receiver screen 71 yards for a score. On Monday night in Atlanta, Manning made some wobbly throws that almost appeared like they were tipped at the line of scrimmage — but they weren’t.
The point is the Broncos’ dramatic victory over Pittsburgh may have temporarily masked the fact that Manning is going to be a work in progress. Anyone who watched their loss to the Falcons can tell you that. Considering he’s working with a new offense and a surgically-repaired neck, it would be unreasonable to expect to see Peyton Manning, NFL MVP right out of the gate.
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