Peyton Manning isn’t receiving much criticism even with his poor play of late. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Denver Post — Poor Peyton.
Not “woe is Peyton Manning” in the sense he is drawing a $20 million salary… and might be the most popular athlete on the planet.
What’s tough about being Peyton is the pressure he’s under not just to be good, but great. As the Broncos have concentrated their efforts on improving their running game the past three weeks, Manning has thrown six touchdown passes against two interceptions while leading his team to an average of 31 points and a 3-0 record.
Yet, because he has also averaged 203 passing yards in the past three games and not 330, as he did through the first 10 games this season, and because he didn’t throw a touchdown pass Sunday for the first time as a Bronco, and because the game has not always been as easy as he made it seem his first 2½ seasons in Denver, this passionate football region has been wondering: Is anything wrong with Peyton?
Is he hurt? Is he getting old? Is he losing it?
“None of the above,” said Broncos coach John Fox.
Fox is correct. Manning is one of the best. He ranks third in passer rating and fourth in passing yards, and he is tied with Andrew Luck for first in touchdown passes.
Oh well. I guess that settles that. Peyton Manning says he’s fine. John Fox says he’s fine. Well then according to the Denver Post’s logic, he has to be fine, right? Nothing more to see here folks. Let’s all go home and get some sleep, citizens. The Peyton Apology Machine is still cranking out 1.21 jigowatts of power.
I don’t get it and I never have. What is this Peyton infallibility doctrine he lives under? How is it that Manning manages to avoid all criticism, doubt and serious questions about his abilities? Tom Brady had a couple of substandard games in September while facing withering pressure all month behind an O-line that hadn’t found itself yet, and the world was coming to an end. The airwaves were full of talk about his window closing, his advanced age and his rapidly declining skills. The anti-Patriots horde talked about him like he’s standing in his own grave. Trent Dilfer and Steve Young go on the Monday Night Football postgame show to declare he’s furious and hates being here more than Mike Salk. Some leprechaun-troll from Dublin no one ever heard of claims Brady isn’t even a top five QB starts doing an “I told ya so, laddie.” It was mass hysteria.
But Manning? Nope. He’s fine. Despite him coming off a zero touchdown, two interception job at home against Buffalo. Or the seven points the Broncos put up four weeks ago at St. Louis. Or the fact that in three of his last four games, Manning has posted passer ratings of less than 86, which would put him below Kirk Cousins, Mark Sanchez and (shudder) Eli. Or even last week’s dog’s breakfast of 56.9 is his lowest since 2008, still, nothing to worry about. He’s the same guy he was in his prime, they’re just keeping the ball on the ground as an experiment. Pure football research.
Look, I’m not asking anyone to declare time of death on Peyton Manning‘s career. All I want is the same level of irrational, hysterical panic about him that Brady gets every time he has a bad game, instead of this “nothing to see here” stuff. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
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