Life without Peyton Manning: My Madden experience

(EA Sports)

What will happen to the Denver Broncos when Peyton Manning retires? Below is my Madden-inspired solution.

To be clear, this is no Breaking Madden series. I'm not that Jon, and I don't dedicate my time to breaking video games. I do, however, play video games.

Last fall, I started a season in franchise mode in an old version of Madden with a 2013 roster mod. I went 14-2 in the regular season and went on to defeat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XLVIII. It was beautiful.

Then came the offseason.

My quarterback, Peyton Manning, retired at the age of 37.

Now what?

In free agency, I decided to pickup several QBs and let them all compete with Brock Osweiler for the starting job in preseason. First, I signed Carson Palmer. He's no Drew Brees, but he can get the job done.

Next, I signed Vince Young, mainly for his running ability. I run a lot every down in Madden and I love playing with scrambling quarterbacks. It shames me to say it, but I actually hate playing with Manning in the game because he can't run and that makes me feel paralyzed as a gamer. I know I run the risk of having rocks thrown at me for saying this, but my favorite team to use in Madden is actually the Seahawks.

Yes, Seattle.

As I noted, I run often so Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are the perfect combination for my offense. I never play in season mode with Seattle, but if I'm playing a friend that's good at the game, I always play with the Seahawks.

Getting back to my offseason—after signing Young I went out and landed Tim Tebow. It's a video game!

Young and Tebow are perfect Madden QBs, at least for my purposes. I've had seasons in the past with a pair of 2,000 yard rushers and a 1,000 yard passer. Heck, I've had quarterbacks rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

With all of that said, I do throw. I played a few preseason games after finishing up offseason mode and let each of the QBs play a quarter per game.

Of the QBs, Palmer had the best passing stats while Young was the most effective overall. After playing with all four of the QBs and realizing that they all excelled in different areas, I decided to go with a four-way-QB-rotation. I made Palmer the "starter" on the depth chart, but he was only on the field in shutgun formations.

Palmer was my passing QB, Young was my single-back formation QB, Osweiler was my broken I-formation QB, and Tebow was my I-formation and goal line QB. I utilized all of their greatest strengths.

We finished the season 15-1. Unfortunately, I ran Tebow into the ground and he was injured by Week 15 and missed the final two games of the season and all of the playoffs. Below is a look at how each of the QBs stacked up in the 2014 season:

QB Rotation








Carson Palmer








Brock Osweiler








Vince Young








Tim Tebow








The four QBs combined to throw 574 passes on the year. For comparison's sake, consider that Manning threw 659 times last season. Both Tebow and Young rushed more times they than threw, and while Tebow had a higher completion than both Oswelier and Young, it should be noted that I only attempted high-percentage throws with him. Hitting RBs in the flats and WRs on screens was what Tebow specialized in as far as passing goes. It was his running, though, that made our offense so unstoppable.








Tim Tebow







Tebow converted countless 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 situations with the good 'ol QB sneak. Had he not gotten injured, I'm sure he would have had 20 rushing touchdowns on the season. That would have given him 25 total scores on the year, which would have been a team high.

Osweiler was the most efficient passer, and I gave him more and more opportunities as the season went on. His relatively low completion percentage (50%) was nothing to brag about, but that's on me, not him.

Young was the most dynamic of the four. Though he only scored 10 total touchdowns, he was a better passer than Tebow, making him especially hard to defend. Young ended up being the MVP of Super Bowl XLIX (EA Sports must be really high on Carolina, because we faced them again in the Big Dance).

Palmer started the year hot and then began to sizzle out—that's when I starting giving Osweiler more reps. As far as Madden goes, Oz is a pretty good QB, just not for my purposes. Young and Tebow were my favorite options, but each quarterback contributed to the success of the offense.

In my case, four quarterbacks gave the team the best chance to win.

When Peyton does one day hang up his cleats, is this strategy something the Broncos would consider?

No, but in a video game, Denver got along just fine without him.

I'm curious—what do you do in Madden when Manning retires? Vote in the poll below and give me the low-down in the comment section below!

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