Before we hit the panic button on Peyton Manning, we may want to consider his past before we write him off as washed up. Just three years and one week ago, Broncos Country was in full panic mode after Manning's first two preseason games the quarterback of the Denver Broncos.
Back then, he looked off. He looked slow. He look ... old. Everyone assumed his surgically repair neck was to blame, but in hindsight it was more Manning going through the pains of installing a new offense. Something he had only had to do early in his career with the Indianapolis Colts.
Manning even alluded to this process in his post-game press conference Saturday night:
I think it’s important for us to improve through the season, and like I said, would we like to be a finely-tuned machine going into Week 1? Sure. With some newness, some different players and some different things that we’re doing, that’s what we’re working toward. Certainly, I think the key is for us to improve through the season. Now, we’re not making excuses. You can still win games as you’re still kind of finding your identity and figuring out the things that you can hang your hat on. We’ve got some starters out, potentially. Emmanuel and obviously we’ve got good competition there with Evan and Max, and whatever rotation ends up at the offensive line, so we’re still very much kind of figuring out who we are and what we’re going to be as far as the things we can really hang our hat on. And I think we’ll develop those throughout the season. I still think we can win games as we’re developing kind of that identity.
Through two preseason games in 2012 he went 20/30 for 221 yards with 3 interceptions. Oh and zero touchdown passes. So far through two preseason games in 2015, Manning is 22/35 for 176 yards and 1 interception. Oh and zero touchdown passes.
PFF: Broncos have 3rd best WR corps
In a recent post from Pro Football Focus, they ranked the best wide receiver corps in the NFL.
I see (and I hope) the two commonalities is Manning working through creating offensive rhythm that we really won't start to see until the midway point of the season. In 2012, Manning looked pretty rough through the first five and half games before moving on to record breaking magnificence through three seasons as a Bronco. Creating a new offensive identity takes time, so we must be patient with it.
We're not going to see the Peyton Manning of 2013, but we should see a Manning that can and will run an efficient offense. He doesn't need extra zip on the ball. He just needs to put the offense in the right offensive formations with the right audibles, so he can find the open guy. He beats teams by outsmarting them, not by putting zip on the ball.
Gary Kubiak is going to run the ball effectively, which means Manning is going to have plenty of opportunities to put points on the board. The first two preseason games really don't mean a thing other than get fans overly excited or overly downcast before a real game is ever played. You should see how 49ers fans are reacting to their offensive line after the Broncos defense wrecked it in the first half.
So, is it time to panic? No.
Not yet, anyway...