Today was the day—the great day we have all been waiting for, the first Sunday of the 2015 NFL regular season! Since the schedule has come out, we have all been debating what our record will be, who will give us the most trouble, why we will win our division, and on and on.
Today, I would like to go back and revisit John Elway's time as a player, when he had to change for the greater good of the Denver Broncos and compare that to what Peyton Manning is going through this year.
For many, many years, Manning has been in charge of his offense (Indianapolis & Denver). At any time, he has been able to change what he feels is needed, whether it's at the line of scrimmage or behind closed doors—TOTAL control. However, Manning has had the reigns pulled back with Denver hiring Gary Kubiak as the new head coach.
Many people compare this to the later years of the great John Elway (Manning’s boss) and getting help from No. 30 Terrell Davis. Elway and Davis were two peas in a pod, with a great supporting cast. including the likes of Shannon Sharpe, Ed McCaffrey, Rod Smith, Howard Griffith and a dominant O-line from left to right!
Compared to that, this is a very different experience Manning will have this year. Here are a few reasons why it will be a different story for Manning, than it was for Elway:
- Elway had already been playing in Mike Shanahan and Kubiak’s offense for a couple of years before the Super Bowl championships.
- Throughout his career, Elway did not have a steady running game to go with his playmaking abilities, especially in his first 10 years.
- At times, Elway would audible, although he never veered far away from what was drawn up (besides the fact of making water into wine on a consistent basis)
Here are a few reasons why it will be a different story for Manning, but with great results.
- Teams can be expected to zero in, see him under center and stack the box.
- When Manning can learn to (under center) roll out, throw on the run AND stand in the pocket for play-action, this will back the defenses off, leading to huge numbers for the running backs.
- Peyton likes his 4-WR sets regularly on the field (with a dummy back in the backfield with him for the blitz pickup) and his throws are very much on time with his receivers. As we know, when aggressive defenses bump the receivers at the line, his timing most likely will be off (as we saw today).
- When Manning becomes accustomed to keeping the defense guessing (by being under center), the defense will back off and allow the offense to dictate.
- Manning being Manning in the past has kept the Broncos one dimensional, not only in the regular season, but more importantly in the playoffs.
- When Manning sees the long effects of his health and durability throughout the regular season, and how he will be fresh in the playoffs, it will benefit the team.
As we saw today, Manning will have some quirks to fix in the new offense, although like everything he does, he will eventually master it and all will be stable in Denver. Manning will also benefit from a strong defense and the defense will benefit from Manning and Co. sustaining drives and keeping them fresh.
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