“Yeah, I believe so , ” says former Indiana Colts general manager Bill Polian, the man who drafted Manning first overall in 1998. “As long as the officials enforce the illegal contact rules (on receivers) over the field, the only other way to quit him is to get pressure on him. ”
Realizing that is the easy part. Doing it is another issue. Manning has been sacked five instances in four games for the Denver Broncos this season while rolling upward eye-popping numbers, as if playing pinball in the pocket.
Manning has 16 touchdown passes, zero interceptions and 1, 470 back yards through a quarter of the season. That will puts him on a pace regarding 64 TDs and 5, 880 yards across a full season, lending new meaning to the phrase imagination football.
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And so, here he is, at age thirty seven, setting up in the pocket, dancing with mincing little steps, looking, searching — and the ball is gone before the pressure arrives. He is not fleet of feet, but his trigger-fast release is an astoundingly fleet feat.
“He’s absolutely the best at that, ” Polian states.
Manning’s sterling start offers the tantalizing prospect that he could post the most prolific season for a quarterback in NFL history. In addition, there’s that other tantalizing prospect, that he could atone for the single blot on his storied career — a 9-11 postseason record — if he were to win a second Super Bowl, at his sophisticated age, for a second team, while approaching stylistic and statistical perfection.
CBS analyst Phil Simms, who is calling Sunday’s Broncos at Dallas Cowboys game, states defenses are at a loss.
“I don’t even know what you do, ” Simms tells UNITED STATES TODAY Sports. “Do you deliver everybody? Every theory in the world continues to be brought up about Peyton. I’ve performed many of his games, and everybody thought they had an idea of exactly why their plan was going to work. ‘We’re going to hit him every opportunity we get. ‘ Or, ‘We’re going to pressure him. ‘ Or even, ‘He’s not going to figure out our blitzes. ‘
“Yeah, right. Never, never has there already been a quarterback in the NFL that understands and sees a blitz quicker before it happens than him. You can disguise all you want, however, you can’t disguise 11 guys. Somebody is going to give it away. ”
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Bruce Smith, the NFL’s all-time carriers leader, none of which came against Manning, rates Manning and Lalu Marino as the fastest guns he or she ever faced.
“No doubt about it, ” Smith states. “There was no one else who have could even come close to them. ”
The Broncos’ requirement is to keep Manning upright, not only because pressure is the best way to defeat him, but also because it’s starting to look as if only injury are able to stop him.
“I avoid even want to bring that upward, ” Polian says, “having lived through 2011. ”
That was the season that Manning missed with a serious neck injury. He previously two vertebrae fused. Some asked yourself if he’d ever play once again.
“His right aspect was completely atrophied, ” Polian says.
The Colts released Manning, and he signed with Denver, where John Elway understood that great quarterbacks can find out new tricks. And now Manning techniques the Broncos less with run off patterns and more with option paths, slants, precision crossing patterns, feathered back-shoulder passes and a menu of monitors.
Ex-protector has lived it
Tarik Glenn, who secured Manning’s blind side for 138 of 144 regular-season games from 1998 until retiring after the 2006 season, enjoys watching his friend from afar.
“I can honestly say I could end up being his offensive coordinator because I am aware all the plays he’s running, ” Glenn says. “They’ve basically taken the old Colts offense and taken that as a base and a basis and they’ve added on a couple of things that are causing them to end up being dominant. ”
Inquire Glenn who was the most frustrated bag artist of Manning’s Colts period and he doesn’t hesitate. “Bruce Smith, ” Glenn says.
“That’s accurate, ” Smith states. “Just because you don’t sack the quarterback doesn’t mean you’re not having an impact. You make them throw under duress and get the ball out sooner than they want. That can lead to overthrows, dropped passes, interceptions and getting from the field. That’s the main objection, even though you’d always want a sack. ”
Broncos coach Bob Fox says the Cowboys’ protective front, especially end DeMarcus Ware and tackle Jason Hatcher, would be the biggest test of the season so far for the Broncos’ offensive line.
“They’re good at creating stress, ” Manning says, “and creating sacks. ”
Manning is always careful not to supply bulletin-board material. He does not taunt move rushers who fail to get their notes.
“He’s in about as vulnerable a position as you can maintain, ” Glenn says. “The final thing he needs to do is drive somebody to get a cheap shot due to the fact they’re angry at him. .. He doesn’t talk a lot. He does not need to. Peyton finds pleasure in scoring a lot of points on defense and breaking their will simply by executing well. ”
The Broncos rang up 49 points on the Baltimore Ravens, 41 on the New York Giants, 37 on the Oakland Raiders and 52 on the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s 179 points, fifty two clear of everyone else.
Manning threw seven touchdown passes on opening night against the Ravens. A week ago, on the Broncos’ last four TD drives against the Eagles, they in no way faced a third down. He is finishing 75% of his passes. He could be averaging nearly 9. 5 back yards a pass attempt. He has thrown the ball away under pressure simply twice through four games, and he has not been hit as he throws.
“He knows where to go with the ball, ” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs says. “That’s it. When the quarterback knows what you’re in, and he knows where to go with the ball, pass rush can’t help you. ”
Broncos defensive planner Jack Del Rio coached against Manning 16 times as coach of Jacksonville Jaguars; his teams documented 14 sacks.
“Do you have to bring that up? ” Del Rio says, laughing. “It was hard enough, then. I avoid want to relive it. ”
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Clady’s absence a concern
Amid all the giddiness over the Broncos’ start, there is a measure of concern. They lost all-pro left tackle Ryan Clady to some season-ending injury after the Giants’ video game. Clady had played every video game for the Broncos since Denver drafted him at No . 12 in 2008, and he had allowed two sacks on Manning in 19 games.
Chris Clark simon, his replacement, gave up a bag against Oakland, but offensive planner Adam Gase took the fault, suggesting his play call put Clark in a bad spot.
“It’s an honor as well as a privilege to be a guy like that is blind-side protector, ” Clark states, “and that he trusts me to do a great job. ”
Clark didn’t allow a pressure against Philadelphia and says the frustration associated with Eagles pass rushers was apparent.
“You see the desperation, ” Clark says, “just looking to get there. ”
Polian still roots for Manning. “I worry a little bit about Ryan Clady not being there, ” he admits that. “It’s really important that the left tackle keep him clean to operate the entire offense. ”
Glenn was that left tackle in Indy. And he regrets the time in i b?rjan p? tv?tusentalet when Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Lorenzo Bromell drilled Manning with a helmet-to-chin-strap hit that left Manning with a hairline fracture of his jaw. Manning left the game — and missed one play.
“I just remember the fact I was pissed off that one of the men was the guy who hit Peyton, ” Glenn says. “It’s one of those things. You want to do your best to ensure that doesn’t happen. ”
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It hasn’t happened as often as you can Manning. “He has the longevity, ” Glenn says, “because he hasn’t been hit as much as most quarterbacks. ”
Wayne Gretzky experienced hockey seasons when he soared at an otherworldly level, as Manning soars now. They used to state of Gretzky what they say associated with Manning: The way to beat him can be hit him.
But you can’t hit what you can’t catch. Or, as then-Minnesota North Superstars general manager Lou Nanne famously said, “You can’t hit Gretzky with a handful of confetti. ”
Which isn’t far from exactly what those singing nuns trilled associated with Maria von Trapp, and may indeed as well say of Manning: How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?
Jones reported from Englewood, Colo. Contributing: Jarrett Bell and Tom Pelissero.
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