Let me preface this by saying I don’t actually believe that the Denver Broncos should cut, bench, or part ways with Peyton Manning at all, but I do think that it might be time for Broncos fans to start looking to the near future and start thinking seriously about who they want the franchise quarterback after Manning rides off into the sunset one day.
In the house that I live in there is a huge Seattle Seahawks fan. Recently, as I faked taking a nap on my futon (nicknamed “Bertha”, but I digress) I heard him discussing Peyton Manning across the hall. He was telling someone that Peyton Manning was going to go the way of Favre. He was convinced that Manning would keep trying to come back, and would progressively get worse as defenses around him started to figure out his playing style.
I personally think that’s just cocky banter out of a fan whose team just won the Super Bowl, but he has a point. How much longer can Peyton play?
I don’t pretend to be some huge insider, or a qualified doctor by any means, but I think it is important to address this question.
Last year Manning put up the best numbers in the history of the game. It was, without a doubt and the Super Bowl notwithstanding, probably the greatest season a football player has ever had.
That said, the Broncos weren’t exactly going against the world’s greatest defenses last year either. It’s not easy scoring points in the NFL, but when it comes down to it, most above average teams could have dominated the schedule the Broncos played this year.
I’m afraid the Seahawks may have exposed the Broncos (and the AFC as a whole) as what it really is. Teams in the AFC just really aren’t as good and I’m not sure they will get any better next year (which is why I still believe the Broncos can make it back to the Super Bowl next year.)
But back to Manning. The way I see things, the age of the immobile, throwing quarterback will die with the retirements of Manning and Tom Brady. To win in the modern NFL (the Super Bowl at least) teams need a quarterback that can run the ball when plays break down.
Look at last season as an example; the team that got the closest to knocking off Seattle in the playoffs last year was San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick isn’t the greatest quarterback in the world, but because he is able to run out of danger he keeps plays alive that Peyton Manning can’t.
Manning’s mind will keep him at an elite level next year. But after that even if he wants to keep playing I honestly think the Broncos should look elsewhere. It is going to get harder and harder to win without a mobile quarterback, and Manning just does not have the ability to move outside the pocket.
Is Brock Osweiler the answer? He hasn’t looked terrible in his very abbreviated playing time, but he hasn’t looked “next-Aaron-Rodgers” good either. I hope that he has learned enough from Manning to be the next great Denver quarterback, but at the same time I accept the fact that if Osweiler doesn’t show a proficiency at playing outside the pocket the Broncos will need to find a more mobile signal caller in order to win in the future.