The benching of Peyton Manning for an injury seems a little bit too convenient given terrible season. The Denver Broncos might have been waiting for the opportunity to present itself to make the switch from Manning to Brock Osweiler a permanent one, without creating too much of a fuss.
Manning has been playing poorly all season, partially because of a terrible offensive line. It also has to do with injuries he’s been carrying but when you’re a 40-year old quarterback that’s not very good anymore at avoiding hits and even worse at recovering from them, when aren’t you injured? While the Broncos defense was shutting down everyone, they could live with his subpar numbers, but the last two games – losing to the Indianapolis Colts and the Kansas City Chiefs, seem to be the end of the line, maybe for Manning’s career.
Manning threw four interceptions in the loss to the Chiefs, completing just 5-of-20 passes for 35 yards, posting a 0.1 QBR and 0.0 passer rating. He has nine touchdown passes this season compared to 17 interceptions. Even not too promising rookies would call that bad numbers, and Manning might be the greatest quarterback of all-time. And this wasn’t out of the blue. He’s being playing poorly for most of this season. This was just the worst of the worst, coming on the day he breaks the all-time passing yards records.
The funny thing about this is Brett Favre stuck around for too long just because he wanted to own all these records. When Manning retires, he’ll leave Favre with just one record: All-time leader in interceptions thrown. But that’s about the only positive for Manning in this time. He’s officially benched for the week 11 game against the Chicago Bears, which means facing John Fox, the team’s former coach, who led the Broncos to more wins than any other team over the first three Manning seasons in Denver. It seems that the move to Osweiler might be for good, at least concerning this season.
And what does Osweiler bring to the table? Few people were enthusiastic about him coming out of Arizona State. The midseason switch has worked well for some teams over the years, like Tony Romo in Dallas or Colin Kaepernick for the 49ers, although that’s a very short lived way of working things out. Osweiler is a tall quarterback with a much stronger arm than Manning, but he isn’t quick, which is a problem playing behind an offensive line that isn’t hard to beat. He is younger and stronger, which means he’ll be doing a better job of taking hits than Manning. Getting up and shaking them off.
The whole plan of bringing Gary Kubiak and his staff this season was improving the defense and making things a lot more simple for Manning to operate in after his tough second half to the 2014 season. But the offensive line problems and the sharp Manning decline thwarted those plans. Maybe they expected Manning to start falling apart at one point or another. Few expect him to be back, at least until the end of the regular season, unless Osweiler does a horrific job. Maybe it’s the end of a glorious career, that went on one season too long.