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Peyton Manning's lack of 3rd down success another justification of benching

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November 19, 2015


Are Peyton Manning‘s days in Denver done?

OK, let’s not go that far, even though some think so.

Manning’s injured and Gary Kubiak insists he’s still the Broncos quarterback when he’s healthy. Which makes sense; the 39-year old is one of the greatest to ever play the game and he possesses the unique experience of playing in three Super Bowls. Brock Osweiler may be younger, faster and have more zip on the ball, but he has zero postseason experience. Heck, he barely has any regular season experience, making his first start this Sunday, ironically against Jay Cutler, John Fox and the Chicago Bears.

The truth of the matter is, Manning may be injured now, forcing Kubiak’s hand to sit the 18-year veteran, but No. 18 has struggled all season long. Especially on 3rd downs.

Pro Football Focus came out with a list of best and worst offensive players on third down this season, and there’s Manning’s name among the worst quarterbacks.

His 31.1 percent conversion rate is fourth-worst in the NFL, behind Alex Smith (26.5%), Ryan Tannehill (27.8%) and Russel Wilson (29.0%).




3rd-and-8+ yards

Percentage of passing plays on 3rd-and-8+

1st down


Conversion percentage

CLE Johnny Manziel 47 26 55.3% 13 3 34.0%
KC Alex Smith 98 52 53.1% 24 2 26.5%
MIA Ryan Tannehill 90 47 52.2% 22 3 27.8%
HOU Brian Hoyer 71 37 52.1% 24 4 39.4%
DEN Peyton Manning 103 53 51.5% 28 4 31.1%
NFL League total 3,269 1,469 44.9% 995 131 34.4%
ARI Carson Palmer 86 33 38.4% 30 8 44.2%
WAS Kirk Cousins 105 40 38.1% 41 7 45.7%
SEA Russell Wilson 93 35 37.6% 24 3 29.0%
ATL Matt Ryan 105 37 35.2% 40 4 41.9%
PIT Ben Roethlisberger 57 20 35.1% 24 1 43.9%

(Table credit: Profootballfocus.com)

Converting on 3rd downs is a key factor for allowing offenses to flourish; sustaining drives leads to scoring points.

What must be noted when looking at this table is that Manning has more passes on 3rd and 8+ (53) than any other quarterback in the NFL. What that means is not only has Manning been a let-down, but so has the entire offense, on 1st and 2nd downs. They’re setting themselves up with far too many 3rd-and-long situations, making it easier for the defense to read, react and ultimately force Denver to punt the ball away.

The simple fact is this: Denver must play better offensively to give themselves a shot in the playoffs and to win Super Bowl 50. Whether that’s with Osweiler or Manning at quarterback.

John Elway knows it, Gary Kubiak knows it, players and fans know it.

Now, we all get to see what happens next. And, it’s possible coaches will utilize this statistic — once Brock accumulates opportunities — to help determine who should start.

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