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Peyton Manning in decline, and how Gary Kubiak can make it work

Give The Sheriff the shotgun, and let Kubiak handle the running game.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

I joined Eric Goodman and Zach Fogg on the Afternoon Drive on Mile High Sports radio Friday to talk about the Broncos-Chiefs game. While it's a little awkward quoting myself, I've been meaning to write about some of things we discussed on Friday - namely, my opinion of what we're seeing with Peyton Manning and Gary Kubiak and how I believe they can make it work. Give it a listen below.

First, Goodman asked me, simply: Is Peyton done?

"He is not done," I told Goodman and Fogg. "That is clear. We saw him execute, when he was comfortable and able to operate his offense especially, he was not done by any means. But I think it is clear he is in decline. We are seeing the beginning of the end for Peyton Manning. It's sad to see and sad to say, but I think it's safe to say.

Peyton is not done. But I think it is clear he is in decline.

"Right now Peyton Manning is not the same record-breaking self he was a couple of years ago or even at the beginning of the last year. But this will be a fun ride, even if this is the beginning of the end, as (Thursday) night showed - one of the most memorable games I can remember. One of the most incredible games I can remember."

Zach Fogg then asked me about the Gary Kubiak offense and how well that blends with Peyton Manning.

"This is my opinion of Peyton Manning as it relates to the Gary Kubiak offense. When (Peyton's) lined up under center, he's not able to assess and see pressure as well he is when he is in the shotgun. It almost is that simple, but it kind of causes a domino effect. This offensive line is patchwork; it is not an ideal offensive line by any means. The running game is in trouble. Pass protection is awful. With a few extra yards from shotgun, Peyton can see the pressure coming better. He has more time to step into his throws - which, at this stage in his career, it is absolutely critical to step into his throws and get that full left foot into his throw. When he's not able to do that, whether that's in a rollout or there's a lot of pressure coming, his throws are pretty inaccurate right now. He just doesn't have the arm strength to carry it without moving his entire body and finding that position to find that ideal throw. So because Gary Kubiak likes to operate behind center, and because that's kind of his zone blocking scheme with the running game, Peyton doing the dropback and then having to actually step into his throw, it's not a fit. It's not a fit with Peyton's ideal throw right now, just physically. So he's more successful from behind shotgun. And I hope the Broncos identify that and that Gary Kubiak will mold his scheme into more shotgun looks to give Peyton Manning that ability to step into his throw."

The Broncos are 2-0, but the offense isn't really working yet outside of five miraculous minutes of football on Thursday.

Goodman followed up and asked about Kubiak acquiescing too much, and how that could spell trouble in the playoffs. Here's how I responded.

"I hope (Kubiak) doesn't acquiesce as far as running is concerned. I want to continue to see a balanced - I should say, I want to see a balanced offense. We still haven't seen one yet. A productive offense where the running game has found its rhythm. We still haven't rushed for 70 yards yet in a game. We are the 2nd NFL team in history, according to, to go 2-0 and not run for 70 yards in either game. The other team was also a Denver Broncos team, in 1992, so that was a very interesting stat. But we have to find a running game in order to win games and put teams away.

"And so I hope that Gary Kubiak will take shotgun runs into the playbook. Let Peyton operate some throws that he's comfortable with. I think that's a marriage that could work. Because right now, offensively, the Bronco are 2-0, but the offense isn't really working yet outside of five miraculous minutes of football on Thursday."

In short, Kubiak: let Peyton operate mostly from the shotgun. It's the only way he can throw the football right now. But adjust your zone blocking scheme and playbook to incorporate more running plays out of the shotgun, and insist the Broncos run the football more than they typically have with Manning in years past and in just the previous two weeks. That's a marriage that could work.


Bonus listen