Saturday, December 4, 2010

Is Peyton Manning Really on the Decline?

Some guys....well, the media just love to see them fail. They knock them when they fail and then question their success when they succeed. Peyton Manning is one of those guys.

First, at Tennessee, it was that he couldn't beat Florida. Then ESPN said that he was too cerebral and that Ryan Leaf was a better draft pick. Then, when he was successful in the NFL, it was he couldn't win the big one. SO he won the big one, and now, it's he failed to lead a dynasty. Right. as if the rest of the team had nothing to do with that.

The latest knock is that he's slipping; that Peyton Manning is not the player he once was. That he's living off his reputation.

Oh, please. Sure, he's not dominating like he once was. But let's look at all the facts before we start shouting that the sky is falling.

Let's start with a few stats. The Colts offense, in 11 games has 256 running attempts and 486 passing attempts. Why? Well, because the Colts can't run the ball. At all. The Colts are 4th worst in the league at running the ball with 82 yards a game. In the 5 games in November, the Colts earned, via the ground game, 340 yards in 102 attempts. That's 3.33 yards a carry. In the Colts five losses, the running backs ran for a total of 3.1 ypc. In short, Manning rightly feels that to score points, he has to do it all himself.

And because of that, Manning has completed and thrown more passes than anyone in the league. Manning has thrown for 182 first downs, 13 more than 2nd place New Orleans and 52 more than the league average. Indianapolis passing offense is rated 1st in the league all while defenses know what's he's going to do.

Well, so what, Manning has great receivers, right?

Well..........the Colts injury list looks like their regular season roster. Pro Bowl TE Dallas Clark and starter Anthony Gonzalez are out for the season as is backup TE, Tom Santi. TE Jacob Tamme is banged up as well, leaving the Colts relying on undrafted rookie Brody Eldridge, a fullback by trade, as a potential starting tight end. Oh and he's banged up as well. Starting WR Austin Collie has played 3 quarters in the last 5 games, leaving the Colts giving undrafted WR Blair White a lot of playing time. The running backs are in no better shape than the receivers.Joseph Addai, Donald Brown and Mike Hart are hurt with Addai  and Hart out and Donald Brown—questionable—as the healthiest running back of the 3 of them. Undrafted Javarris James (2.0 ypc) backs him up.

Also, Manning's offensive line this year is a shambles. Former 2nd round pick and left tackle Tony Ugoh was so awful he was cut before the season, leaving journeyman Charlie Johnson as Manning's main protector. According to, Johnson is the 28th rated left tackle in the league. The rest of the line is composed of undrafted rookie and second-year players and banged-up regulars. The result is an offensive line who can't pass protect for more than 2 seconds and who haven't a clue about run blocking. And with Addai out, Manning loses his best blitz protector.

As a result, Manning has to pass to get yards. And passing too much, with a banged up line, leaves opposing defensive lines salivating. They know Peyton has to pass, and they know the Colts offensive line can't hold them for long. So they can rush just 4 defenders and get to Manning, and leave 7 in coverage and make it difficult for Manning to find anyone open.

Despite all that, Manning has completed a 6th-best 65.6 percent of his passes—and his 2.3% interception rating-amazing considering the amount of passes he's thrown—is down from last year, and is lower than Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers. Using guys like Blair White, Jacob Tamme and Gijon Robinson, Manning still is 2nd best in the NFL with 22 TDs.

Is Manning not playing as well as he has? No question—he's not the world-beater he once was. Trying to do too much has made Manning less consistent and less effective. Yet despite his less-than-Manning-like stats, Manning may be having his finest hour. What other quarterback under similar circumstances could do what Manning is doing? Take Drew Brees' weapons and offensive line away and would he have the Saints in playoff contention? If Ben Rothelisberger lost Hines Ward, Rashard Mendenhall, Heath Miller and Antwan Randle El, would he have the Steelers atop his division? We he take undrafted players and make them better than they could ever be? Doubtful.

To say that Peyton Manning is living off his reputation is not just foolish, it's willfully stupid. It's a writer with an agenda trying to take a shot against a player. A hack ignoring reality and attempting to conjure up an issue. Guys like that make me ill.

The facts are that Peyton Manning one day will decline. He wont take over the way he once could and make the throws he once could. But that day is not now.


Pete S said...

Great post - all true. I think several of his picks this year have been his receivers' fault. Garcon in particular sometimes runs the wrong route.

I can't think of player who assumes more responsibility than Manning does in the history of the league. He is literally a coach on the field. It's a shame he can't play defense, because the Colts are weak.

Anonymous said...

"Peyton Manning is one of those guys"

Are you kidding me? Peyton Manning's ass is without a doubt the most kissed in the the league. Nearly every sportswriter talks about his unquestionable greatness. Even before he won the Super Bowl, writers were calling him the greatest quarterback of all time. Every article right now is not about him, but his terrible plight with all his injuries. Earth to writers: The Colts aren't the only team with major injuries on their offense.

This is the first time we've really seen Manning without an arsenal of pro bowlers for receivers and one of the best offensive line in the NFL. And what do you get? 7 picks in 2 weeks. Awesome. For years Manning was surrounded by pro bowlers on offense, and the defensive was fairly solid as well, yet only 1 Super Bowl. 1. After 9 years straight of being in the top 3 or 4 favorites to win the Super Bowl. Can you imagine what would happen if Brees/Brady/Roethlisberger/Rogers had that team at their disposal? If that happened the Colts would be lookin' a lot like the Yankees.

Pete S said...

I disagree with you. Ben R. has been surrounded by pro-bowlers his whole career. Hynes Ward is a lock for the HOF. Bettis is close to a HOF if he isn't in. Holmes was very good and their offensive line was always one of the best in football. Their defense has been consistently awesome for years. Big Ben went 9 for 21 with 2 picks in his first Super Bowl and Pitt still won...despite Big Ben.

Brady has had great teams, too. No Colts team has ever been as good as the Pats team that almost went undefeated. The Pats defense has always been near the top as well.

As for Brees, having at least 5 places to go with the football on any given down is a nice luxury to have.

Rodgers has been blessed with great offensive teams as well. Driver has always been one of the best in the league.

I don't think you can insert Brady, Brees, Ben R, or Rodgers into Manning's shoes and say they would have done better.

Anonymous said...

Bringing the numbers! I like this! Do you think the WR quit on the route in the SB?

Pete S said...

My point is franchise has ever(in the history of the NFL) thrown more responsibility onto one man's shoulders than the Colts have with Manning. You can debate this argument, but I doubt you be able to refute it.

Please prove me wrong.