Yet I am concerned about two things: Clady and Welker. We all know that Manning's arm was not as strong last season at it is this season. He especially struggled last season when he could not step into his throws, having to rely on his supernatural anticipation to get the ball exactly where it needed to be. I have been watching for it this year. His arm is clearly much stronger this year, but he still floats the ball when he cannot step into his throws. So far this season, quite a few passes have been near the receiver's feet, causing the receiver to run back to catch it or to drop to the ground to catch it. If this is the case in weak two and his arm likely only gets more tired as the season drags on, I am highly concerned what it will look like come playoff time. Twice in two weeks he tried to hit Decker on the back shoulder, and both times Decker slipped trying to stop and get back to the ball. Also in week one, he rolled out to the right and had Welker behind the defense with a clear path to the end zone. Peyton simply did not have the arm to get it to him as it was way underthrown and nearly picked off.
That brings me to Clady, who has provided Manning ample protection on his blindside. If he is out for an extended period (or God forbid, for the season) and Manning has less time to throw and cannot step into his throws, there is a good chance his interceptions will go up or, at the very least, his completion percentage will drop materially. It also hurts his ability to hit the deep throws as he definitely needs to step into those.
The other issue is Wes Welker. Welker has had a number of drops already, including one that was ruled a catch in game one. Beyond that, the Manning to Welker connection just seems off. Maybe Manning is not used to Welker's quickness yet, but he seems to consistently throw either behind Welker or near his feet. Hopefully this will improve throughout the season, but so far the connection simply has not been very sharp.
I know we put up 90 points through two games, but a +4 turnover margin helps tremendously (as does a punt return for a touchdown). I certainly do not want to rely on the defense continuing to get turnovers. I am simply looking ahead to January and fearing that the arm strength will not be there and the protection might not be sufficient to allow Manning to overcome the arm strength issues. The man is 37 years old, after all. If he had his current knowledge and experience with his physical skills circa 2004, we would roll every team on the way to an undefeated season as he threw for 60 touchdowns. But the reality is his physical tools have diminished and there is simply no way to reverse that.
Before anyone accuses me of being overly negative, just know that I am the biggest Peyton Manning fan on this planet and have been since 1997 when he orchestrated a masterpiece every week as a senior at Tennessee. I am simply expressing my fears and avoiding being overly excited in week 2 when we still have another 4 months of football to go.