Peyton Manning just can't get any love this week, despite the Broncos being 4-0.
And the latest criticism is coming once again from former Denver Broncos wide receiver Mike Pritchard who told Eric Goodman and Zach Fogg on Mile High Sports Afternoon Drive Monday that he hopes Manning "doesn't mess it up" when it comes to the Broncos offense.
"I just look at Peyton Manning - and you hate to say this - but is he a playmaker now? He is no longer the difference maker. He's the guy who can cost you the game because his skills have diminished. ...So you need other players to make those plays for you and just not mess it up."
Here's where I'm going to cry "foul" on this whole tiresome complaining over Manning. The Broncos are undefeated. They've won. Manning hasn't played great, but he hasn't cost the Broncos the game in any of the four wins. In fact, as Tim Lynch pointed out, Manning has played his best when the game has been on the line, playing some of his best football when time is running out and the Broncos needed to score. And he has gotten the offense to score when he had to.
In fact, Manning's veteran poise when it's needed most is overlooked by too many fans still wanting Broncos circa 2013. Half the reason Manning threw 55 touchdowns was because he had to in several shootouts or some come-from-behind wins. But that's not the case now with this defense, so the need for Manning to score is not as great, and even "Pritch" - who will be inducted into CU Sports Hall of Fame this fall - recognizes this.
Pritchard believes Manning still has an important role for the Broncos.
"Be the ultimate game manager, get the protections down," Pritchard said, calling Manning a "capable" quarterback. "Realize what you have and hope he doesn't try to do too much. Same thing in reverse for a rookie quarterback. Just don't try to do too much. Let these other guys make the plays out there."
Part of this I can agree with. Manning does need to recognize his limitations and not force throws he can't make easily. But outside of the two interceptions on Sunday, Manning had one (maybe two) truly "bad" passes. He also had a couple of outstanding ones, which apparently many fans have forgotten about (for a pick-me-up, click on that link).
What do you think, Broncos Country - is Pritchard's fear warranted?
For a continued discussion on the impact of Manning, Eric and Zach discuss whether Manning's turnovers are going to be too detrimental for the team to overcome. Sigh.