The Denver Broncos are in a position to win the Super Bowl despite of Peyton Manning, not thanks to him. An awful regular season and very few good moments in the postseason, the Broncos might be a Super Bowl winner with the worst quarterback season unable to holding them back.
How bad? Manning played in 10 games this season, with nine starts. He completed just 59.8% of his passes (lowest since rookie year), throwing 9 touchdowns passes and 17 interceptions. Only Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars (18 interceptions) threw more, but he played a full season, as manning had 5.1% of his passes picked off, while the golden number was 3% for Bortles, actually an improvement for him. It won’t be surprising to say that Manning set a new career low for himself, even worse than his rookie year, when he threw 28 interceptions.
He posted a career low 67.9 passer rating and 44.96 QBR (that mysterious ESPN formula). In short? Awful season which will probably be his last. Rumors are spreading he has already told people close to him that Super Bowl 50 will be his last game, but you never really know with athletes. Ego, pride and the love for the game doesn’t always let them walk away, even when every sign on their body and their ability tells that it’s time to call it a night.
Manning hasn’t been too bad in the postseason. He didn’t make any big mistakes in the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that’s about all you can ask for him these days. He threw two touchdown passes in the first half against the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, giving the Broncos enough of a cushion to defend with and hold on against the Patriots. Overall in this postseason he has completed just 55.1% of his throws with a 81.7 passer rating, while not throwing a single interception. And that’s all they can ask of him right now.
FiveThirtyEight took Manning’s numbers and ran them through the statistical books, and found out he is the worst quarterback to make a Super Bowl appearance. Obviously this speaks only about the 2015 season Manning. The only team to make the Super Bowl with a worse passing offense than the 2015 Broncos (who also had Brock Osweiler improve stuff during his six starts) are the 1979 Los Angeles Rams with Vince Ferragamo at quarterback.
We’ve seen teams carry their quarterbacks to Super Bowl titles before. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just over a decade ago, the Baltimore Ravens two years earlier, even the first championship for the New England Patriots. The Chicago Bears from 1985 might be the best example, and a Bears team with a bad quarterback made the Super Bowl and lost to Manning in 2006. The Broncos aren’t the first and won’t be the last to try and make their quarterback a minimal part of the game. We just never thought it would happen with Peyton Manning.