One by one, Peyton Manning answered all of the questions that existed – and some that arose thru the offseason as training camp loomed. Las Vegas odds
How would his surgically repaired neck hold up when he took a hit? Apparently, fine, as he absorbed shots from Seattle’s Bruce Irvin and San Francisco’s Parys Haralson and quickly arose.
How strong would his arm be?
Perhaps not as robust as it was for most of his years in Indianapolis, but still with enough pop for him to disperse passes all around the field and hit receivers deep, which he showed off in practice and then against the 49ers on Aug. 26, when he hit RB Lance Ball in walk for a 38-yard gain.
How accurate would he be? You do not want to hype up preseason statistical data too much, since they can be flawed by representing a small sample size, but Manning’s 71.4 completion percentage was topped by only 2 other starters this summer: Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco.
The rising tide of improvement for Manning and his new squad ultimately crested against the S.F 49ers, when he completed 8 consecutive passes, finished the day 10-of-12 for 122 yards and failed to throw an interception. The offense’s play was so comprehensive that Manning was benched after one quarter, a very highly unusual move in the game where starters often play at least to halftime.
Until then, there were murmurs of doubt from outside the Broncos about Manning’s ability to bounce back from a hit or finding his timing fast enough. Those did not translate to the locker room, where his coaches stayed steadfastly in Manning’s corner and his teammates didn’t understand the hubbub when the fans wildly cheered Manning’s ability to get up from a hit.
“We knew when we signed him what we were dealing with and where he was at this point in time,” claimed offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
Manning thought in March that he may have played at that moment if the need arose, but that his arm strength would be compromised since he was only midway through the rehab process following his 4th neck surgery in 2011.
Four months later on he wasn’t concerned about any potential physical restrictions, or maybe hung up on trying to replicate his old offense in Indianapolis.
“I don’t think there’s any obstacle with this offense,” Manning asserted. “What I’ve done in my past on the teams I’ve played on I think are really irrelevant to this year’s team. We’re still forming our identity, seeing what plays we are able to hang our hat on.”
Although the offense seems to be familiar to what Manning ran in Indianapolis – featuring 3 wide-receiver sets, tight ends as slot receivers and RBs who can split out wide when the requirement turns up – there are one or two differences. The nomenclature, for one; the offense is written in the language the Broncos have used since 2009, when McCoy arrived to work under ex-head coach Josh McDaniels. The use of a fullback, for another; the Broncos’ only 1st-team rushing touchdown of the preseason and Willis McGahee’s longest run came when fullback Chris Gronkowski entered the game and slammed open a hole for McGahee to exploit.