Father Time remains undefeated. Age is the most dominant factor in sports — it cannot be competed against. On Sunday, we watched Peyton Manning break another all-time passing mark, which will prove to be the last record Manning breaks in the NFL.
It’s time to accept the facts, to leave the past behind and come to reality with what Manning is. Peyton Manning is not John Elway, not every quarterback rides off into the sunset.
All- time great quarterbacks Dan Marino, Steve Young, Brett Favre, Jim Kelly, Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw all played a season too long.
What Peyton Manning gave the NFL for 18 years was magical and a pleasure to watch. His on-field performance is only topped by his work in the community. Peyton Manning is a class act, he changed the way the quarterback position is played.
No one is happy to see Peyton Manning go out like this. No one who wants to see it end, but it has to.
I was among the first to notice the Manning’s regression starting a year ago today against the St. Louis Rams. I was watching a quarterback then who was struggling with his arm strength and struggling to put the ball where it needed to be.
A quarterback who was healthy and didn’t suffer a major injury until four weeks later in San Diego. Even before that game, Manning looked off against the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots, throwing two interceptions in each of those games.
Since that day one year ago, Manning has thrown 25 interceptions, 25 interceptions in his last 16 games, a stretch topped only by his rookie season.
In the offseason, Manning accepted a pay-cut, while ensuring a no-trade clause be added to his contract to remain the Broncos starting quarterback. He got healthy, he worked hard and looked ready for one last run at a Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, from training camp the signs of the end started popping up. The offense struggled to score with Manning under center during the preseason. Those struggles continued and got worse during the regular season.
A switch towards Peyton Manning's offensive principles in Week 3 did nothing to fix the offensive issues. Manning looked off, his accuracy was awful, his arm strength was gone and worst of all, his decision-making drew comparisons to that of a rookie quarterback.
Fast forward to Sunday, where Manning had the worst quarterback performance in NFL history. After throwing his fourth interception, Gary Kubiak mercifully benched Manning, later saying that Manning was injured and shouldn’t have started to begin with.
Manning's stat line for the day stood as 5 completions on 20 attempts for 35 yards and 4 interceptions.
Brock Osweiler came in, led the Broncos to the red zone on three-straight drives, after a three-and-out, finishing two of those drives with touchdowns and one with an interception.
With Osweiler under center, the running game performed better, receivers seemed to be re-energized and Osweiler was able to extend plays with his legs. Brock's ability to escape pressure reminded me of another big quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
Moving forward, with Brock under center, Kubiak can run his traditional offense, which would immediately open up the run game. The quarterback can run the bootleg and play action and push the ball down field.
Opposing teams will have to respect Osweiler's ability to get the ball downfield and will have to abandon stacking the box against the Broncos offense. Dating back to preseason, the offense looks better with Brock in at QB.
Many want to compare this situation to 2006 with Jay Cutler, but it is completely different. In 2006, Jake Plummer was the emotional leader of the Denver Broncos, he was healthy and the team was in the midst of a playoff chase.
Jay Cutler was a rookie QB who was an outsider on the team. He was clearly talented but he hadn’t earned the respect of his teammates yet.
In 2015, Brock Osweiler is a fourth-year player. He has earned the respect of everyone in the building, as he patiently waited for his opportunity and he's been an excellent teammate along the way. This is a different situation and a different direction.
Now onto the dilemma at hand. How long does Brock Osweiler start for Denver? The answer is simple, the job is Brock's to lose. If Osweiler plays well this Sunday, he will start against the New England Patriots.
If Brock plays well against the Patriots, win or lose, Brock will continue to start for the Broncos. If the offense looks better with Osweiler under center, he will keep the job for the remainder of the season and beyond. He will have earned that right.
What also cannot be understated is aside from his physical regression due to age, Manning is also injured. His current major injury is not one which will heal with a week of rest and rehabilitation.
Manning will miss 3-4 games at minimum if he wants to be fully healthy. When he is healthy, the chance to start may already be gone.
Manning gave the Denver Broncos two and a half magical seasons. Fans watched him break four major passing records in a Broncos uniform, and they witnessed the greatest statistical season by a quarterback in NFL history.
The 2015 season is a sad way to say goodbye to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but the ride is over.
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