In case you haven't read it yet, please, take a moment to read Kiszla's article about why Manning was set up for failure. I know, silly isn't it? Well, I'm here to tell you all that the legendary quarterback of the Denver Broncos was not set up for failure. He was set up for success, but just couldn't get it done.
First of all, let me dispel a myth: I am not a "Manning hater!" Nothing could be further from the truth. Peyton Manning has been my absolute favorite quarterback since the moment John Elway retired. Yes, that means I loved Manning as a first- round draft pick and closely followed his career since the moment he was drafted. I loved his draft interview when the reporter asked him about what he's going to do with his new found money. Would he buy a house and a car? What would Peyton's answer be to "what will you do with your money?" .... simple, he said "I'm going to go out and earn it!" Yes, it's safe to say that I have loved that man ever since. So please, spare me the narrative of me not liking Manning because nothing can be further from the truth. I love Peyton Manning, I simply can't bury my head in the sand and pretend that his play hasn't slid off the side of an oceanside cliff in the middle of monsoon season.
Now on to why Peyton has not been set up for failure:
Myth 1: "He was forced to have days off during the week"
While some (like Kiszla) will point out that Manning was set up for failure by having a perfectionist like Manning stay off the practice field, I am here to offer a bit of clarity. Are you ready? Good, because this is why he was given those days off: He is 39 years old!
Bam! That's the reason. It isn't Elway's or Kubiak's way of shoving Manning out the door. It is their way of keeping him fresher for longer. As I wrote last season, the only way Peyton could make it through a season healthy is if he's given time off. It looks like Elway and Kubiak agreed. And why wouldn't they? They were both quarterbacks in another life. Heck, John Elway is, to many, the best quarterback who has ever lived, and if that isn't enough reason to believe that they were doing this to keep Peyton fresh, remember that in Elway's final season, he too missed games due to injury. So perhaps he knows a thing or two about what it takes to be in the twilight of your career and what it takes to remain fresh and healthy.
So for that point, Peyton Manning has been set up for success by staying fresh. Keeping Manning fresh is hardly setting him up for failure. He's proven to start the season strong and then fizzle. Keeping him fresh was suppose to help prevent that from happening, at least to an impactful degree. Heck, I advocated for Manning to be rested for games that the Broncos should be able to win with Brock simply to give him extra time off like bye weeks. I've advocated to rest Manning against the Raiders and Browns and then the bye week. I mean, I know everyone loves to play armchair coach and GM, but using your powers of hindsight, resting Peyton against those teams doesn't sound nearly as "Pete you're a moron" as you all said when I wrote it a month (and months) ago, now does it? Perhaps Peyton is healthy today and the Broncos are 9-0 if he would have simply rested to stay fresh.
Myth 2: "Elway hates Manning because he didn't trade for Joe Thomas"
Ugh, another idiotic thing to say. Seriously, who is starting in place for DeMarcus Ware if we trade away Shaq Barrett, as was the reason why trade talks failed. Who? You just can't mess up this defense to try to fix the line, especially when a line is all about chemistry meeting talent.
Evan Mathis is a Pro Bowl player, so the talent is there. But it took him a while to get chemistry, right? Hell, he still doesn't have the best chemistry with this line because he missed training camp. So why would the bandaid of Joe Thomas be any different? Especially when it would cost our defense dearly?
Look, at the beginning of the season, John Elway gave Peyton Manning a line that had Ryan Clady (all-pro zone blocking LT), Ty Sambrailo, Louis Vasquez (pro bowler) and other up-and-coming players like Garcia and Schofield to play the line. It isn't like Elway said "Ok Peyton, you want to come back? Here, I'm gonna whack Clady in the knee with this bat, I'm going to run Sambrailo over with my car, I'm going to make Vasquez look like garbage, and I'm going to make sure we don't sign Mathis until after camp."
Give it a break! Elway has done plenty to bolster this line, especially when you're talking about a zone scheme that is more about mobility and chemistry than individual talent. Just ask any of the linemen from our Super Bowl teams. Mark Schlereth has been very vocal about the cohesion that it takes on the line, and that it isn't so much about talent but about cohesion. So zip it with this silly talk. Elway did plenty.
Myth 3: "Manning's pay cut is evidence Elway was pushing him out the door"
Give that one a rest too. Players from all 32 teams are asked to take pay cuts every year. It's part of the NFL, especially when players are paid more than their production dictates. And hey, guess what Elway did with that money? He got Evan Mathis, you know, an offensive lineman to help protect Peyton. So give it a rest with the pay cut being a clear cut sign that Elway tried to force Peyton into retirement. That's just nonsense.
Myth 4: "Elway brought in a coach and system that sets Manning up for failure"
False! When it was proved in week 1 that Peyton couldn't run the offense as designed, they scrapped it and moved Peyton into the pistol. How is tailoring the offense to help Peyton out setting him up for failure? If anything, it is the coaching staff making concessions for Peyton, not the other way around.
If a single word of Kiszla's article were true, then we would see Peyton under center 80 percent of the time, and the last time I checked, Peyton operates out of the pistol, not from under center. So again, I must ask, how did Kubiak set Manning up for failure? Yes, Brock is more mobile and fits the Kubiak scheme better, but we aren't running the Kubiak scheme, now are we? So that is a moot point. We are running a scheme that Peyton is comfy in, and he still isn't getting it done. Right, Andrew Mason?
@Skotty_Payne Nonsense. DEN had to make hard choices. Just because the offense has struggled doesn't mean the intentions weren't good.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) November 18, 2015
So there you have it folks. Will Peyton get his job back? I honestly think it depends on how Brock performs and how Manning feels.
I think we very well might have seen Peyton take his last snap ever, not just in a Broncos uniform, but in the NFL. However, if Peyton makes a full recovery and looks absolutely amazing in practice, then it wouldn't be crazy to see him get another shot, perhaps against the Chargers to finish out the season so he can get his mojo back for the playoffs. But that is best-case scenario.
Remember, Peyton is 39 and injury prone. It's sad to see happen, but Father Time is indeed undefeated. All of the "all time greats" succumb to Father Time, and it is never pretty.
The John Elway sunset ride as a Super Bowl MVP to end a career just doesn't happen. Elway went out on top while basically playing amazing football. But he's the exception - the very, very rare exception - not the rule.
The rule says that Hall-of-Fame players will go out with a whimper, not a bang. Michael Jordan went out with a whimper, Brett Favre went out with a whimper, Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter are going out with whimpers. So if these men who have transformed the way their sport and position is played went out with a whimper, why does anyone think that Peyton is immune?
The short answer is "he isn't immune, we just hate admitting it." And I can accept that. What I can't accept is lame excuses and half-witted and hair-brained falsities to try to convince the world otherwise.
Nobody wants to see Peyton win another Super Bowl as badly as I do (ok, maybe his family does), but it will take a major miracle to make it happen at this point in Peyton's Hall of Fame career. He is simply too hurt, too old, and too out of sorts to overcome it all.
But hey, if anyone can, Peyton can. I'm just not going to be holding my breath. It's time to see what the young gun has. Peyton can now be our Plan B. Step up to the podium Brock, because as BroncoDano and others have pointed out to me yesterday, Peyton wanted Elway to draft his replacement, and, well, you are it son. Don't let this opportunity pass you by!