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Peyton Manning’s record breaking now just sounds like a broken record

Colin Daniels Avatar
November 16, 2015

 

Southstands-badge-newFor the “record” what unfolded yesterday was tough to watch, even for a Manning skeptic.

There are times when being right feels wrong and yesterday afternoon was one of those times for me. Anybody who follows me on Twitter (where I mostly found my voice as an amateur sports commentator) knows that I have been among the most vocal skeptics when it comes to Peyton Manning and his ability to show the Broncos to the promised land. I’ve been down on him for years; almost since he got here and certainly since that Ravens game when his frailty first reared its ugly head.

I have long felt that Jim Irsay was right about number 18 and his “Star Wars Numbers.” The Broncos, it has seemed to me, have positioned Manning to get his best from them in terms of opportunities to snatch the spotlight and to post-up staggering numbers at the expense of the kind of balance that makes a team a champion. I feel that he did that in Indianapolis, too, which is precisely why the Colts’ owner was prepared to move on without his legendary quarterback.

Like all of Broncos Country I have enjoyed the wins. Peyton Manning has, in what seems like a virtual instant, become unequivocally Denver’s second greatest quarterback ever, supplanting Jake ‘The Snake’ Plummer.

With fifteen fewer games played than Plummer, Manning has nearly doubled the Snake’s touchdown production and shattered NFL record after NFL record in the process. These include the most passing yards in a season (2013), most touchdowns in a season (2013), most touchdowns in a game (2013, tied), and the most passing yards per game in a single season (2013). Heck, since 2012, Manning has thrown almost half as many touchdown passes as the great John Elway did between 1983 and 1998. And that’s only since he’s been in Denver. For his career he has, as we all now know, passed for more touchdowns and more yards than anyone else to have ever played the position.

I’ve watched every one of Manning’s touchdown passes as the Broncos’ QB and been delighted. I have also watched him flounder when it mattered most – against the Ravens, against the Seahwawks and against even his old team, the Colts. I’ve watched him pout and stare off into space rather than try firing up his teammates. And, like the rest of you, I have watched him fall apart. Still, I wasn’t ready for yesterday.

That was hard to watch.

After game play stopped in the first quarter (following an unimpressive quick out to Ronnie Hillman for five yards) so that stadium announcer Alan Roach could acknowledge yet another Manning record (career passing yardage), everyone in the stadium seemed to sense impending doom. Manning reluctantly mocked a tipping of the cap to the crowd but it was obvious that he was anxious – and for good reason. He wasn’t feeling good and he feared what all of Broncos Country feared – that his breaking of records would by the end of the night sound like just that – a broken record.

And it did.

Each interception Manning threw yesterday was more painful to watch that the one that preceded it. He was launching throws that could have made Tim Tebow cringe. Manning had no timing, no accuracy and no confidence at all, and while his apologists commented that the offensive line and his receivers were letting him down, realists could see that Manning was the sole problem with the Broncos offense. He threw his 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th interceptions on the season on Sunday afternoon, posting a 0.0 passer rating and driving his rating on the season down to a godawful 67.6 before finally, mercifully, being benched in the third quarter.

Had somebody told me that I was about to see Brock Osweiler finally take meaningful snaps for the Broncos yesterday I would have been excited. I have been clamoring for Brock’s youthfulness and mobility since well before this terrible Manning season. Osweiler is Elway’s hand-picked guy and presumably has all the tools to succeed behind Denver’s shaky offensive line. But when it actually happened – when Osweiler actually strapped on his helmet and prepared to enter the football game – my heart sunk. I was getting what I wanted but I wanted to have been wrong.

Today the Broncos are trumpeting the narrative that Peyton is hurt, has been hurt, and should be forgiven for his poor performances. It’s the same ruse the team used last post-season after the Colts sent the Broncos packing. The team denies that he’s injured at first, then when it’s politically convenient they fall back on injuries as the explanation for Manning’s poor performances.

Smart football fans know that plantar fasciitis can’t explain what we are all watching happen to a one-time great quarterback. Peyton’s fall isn’t only physical. Mentally the man is a mess. He knows he can’t count on his body anymore and that has gotten into his head. What we are watching is the coming of the end for Peyton Manning and sadly it appears that it should have come sooner. Perhaps that’s why the Broncos tried to trade him before this season began.

We haven’t seen the last of Peyton, though. He may be supplanted for one or two games (my guess is one) but he will be the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos again this season no matter how well Brock Osweiler fares in his stead. Why? Because there remains one record for Manning to break – career wins. Manning is tied with Brett Favre with 186. One more win and he becomes the winningest regular season quarterback of all time. And, as much as Peyton likes to say that these records don’t mean much to him, we all know it’s not true. They mean a ton to him and understandably so.

No matter what takes place over the next couple of weeks count on seeing Manning to suit up again for the Denver Broncos as their starting quarterback because there’s a record to be broken even if broken records have begun to sound like a broken record to Broncos Country.

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