At the end of the preseason, Albert Breer from NFL.com interviewed NFL executives on a multiple of topics - including Peyton Manning. There, 19 of the 28 NFL minds would not even consider Peyton Manning a top five quarterback.
What they said is quite damning.
One rival AFC pro director who studied him the last few weeks said he looked "limited" and saw his arm strength as "significantly diminished." And he added, "They don't do as much from the shotgun (under Gary Kubiak) as they did in the past, and he lacks the mobility to take the majority of his snaps from underneath the center. They also do too much boot and move the pocket too much for (him)."
I had an NFC exec go back and look at all of Manning's snaps from August. Afterward, he said Manning looked "immobile" and "flinches under pocket pressure." That exec cited "a bad underthrow and off-target interception" and "inaccuracy on intermediate and deep passes." Another exec, this one from an AFC team, countered that by saying that "you're aware the zip and velocity isn't there, but he's a very, very cerebral quarterback. ... He plays within his limitations, he has a quick release and he has weapons."
These are not people who think Peyton Manning has anything left to contribute to the NFL as a quarterback. My only question is whether they are judging Peyton of 2015 against Peyton of 2005 or if they are judging Peyton against any other starting quarterback in the NFL.
Could all of these things be true? I think so, but does this only make him the 7th or 8th best quarterback in the league or the 32nd best? I believe the former to be the case here.
The one person who did go on record wasn't an NFL executive, but rather NFL Network's Brian Baldinger who said this about Manning's final preseason game, "When you watch some of these throws, you can’t believe it could possibly be the same guy… You just (wonder) is it the arm, is it the new offense, is he thinking too much, is that possible? … Those plays are lay-ups for Peyton Manning."
Manning begins this season with as many or more doubters than he had when he returned to football in the 2012 season. Either way, we're going to start finding out how this affects the Denver Broncos aspirations for another Super Bowl title.
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