He’s yet to throw a touchdown, but there still enough to be optimistic about. Peyton Manning has been intercepted three times in this preseason with the Denver Broncos, but the plays that come after the bad ones give him, his team and the fans plenty of hope to cling to.
The numbers so far? Manning has played in two games, has gone 20-30 for 66.7% completion rate for 221 yards while being intercepted three times. He’s yet to be sacked, but there certainly are coverage and blocking issues on the Broncos offensive line, and for team that transformed back into a pocket passing scheme, without Tim Tebow to improvise and make the best out of whatever he sees as a scrambling option, the holes created for pass rushers need to be fixed, and fast.
Not that Manning can’t improvise. There have been few quarterbacks in the history of the NFL who can read a defense and take advantage of an opening as well and as quick as Manning can. But he hasn’t played a league game since the 2010 season playoffs, and these preseason games aren’t the perfect indicator to whether he’s actually as good as he was before his four neck operations?
So what is there to build upon, despite the three interceptions? He can take a hit and bounce back. Bruce Irvin broke through the so-so Broncos O-line to get a hit on Manning as he was releasing the ball for an incompletion. Manning got up and simply drilled a 22 year pass to Brandon Stokely, on the way to leading the Broncos to a 10-9 leading during his time on the field. Not much to build upon, but you take what you can during preseason. It’s better than the Tebow and Sanchez struggles in New York.
Terrell Owens was another intruiguing figure on the Mile High turf, failing to catch one of the five passes thrown at his direction. Most were on his quarterback, Matt Flynn, but Owens should have done better on two or three of those passes.
Manning himself was happy to be through the first hit. He was waiting for it to happen, and hoping it was going to provide a chance for him to come right back with a completion, which he did. Like I said, little things to build on, but it’s good to go through these things in the preseason, making it a bit easier, mentally, to line up behind center for the first game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Will Manning be as good as he used to be? Meaning All-Pro, hall of fame level right from the gun, like he was with the Colts? Odds are against him, but even a good Manning, simply being a good, reliable and efficient pocket passer will make the Broncos’ bet on Peyton a worthwhile deal.