Posted Wed Mar 28th by Jon Heath
It’s no secret that quarterback Peyton Manning makes everyone around him better, just look at how the Colts fared without him in 2011. With Manning now under center in Denver, his new teammates, especially the receivers and tight ends, are primed to have potent seasons.
Among the players expected to benefit from Manning’s presence is third-year receiver Eric Decker. Decker, whom Manning has already started working out with, is looking to build off of his eight-touchdown season.
Four weeks into last season with Kyle Orton leading the offense, Decker had recorded 20 catches for 270 yards and four touchdowns. Towards the second-half of the season, Decker’s overall production slipped as the Broncos focused more on running the ball. With Manning leading the charge this season, Decker and fellow explosive receiver Demaryius Thomas have seen their value in fantasy football leagues skyrocket, and for good reason.
Manning is not a has-been quarterback in this league; he still has a reliable arm and has remained a productive offensive weapon. Over his past two seasons (32 games from 2009 and 2010 — he missed the 2011 season with an injury), Manning threw for 9,200 yards, 66 touchdowns and was sacked 26 times and lost one fumble.
For comparisons’ sake, consider that over their respective last two seasons (60 games from 2010 to 2011), fellow quarterbacks Kyle Orton, Jay Cutler and Tim Tebow combined for 13,387 yards, 82 touchdowns and were sacked 158 times and lost 21 fumbles. The three above mentioned quarterbacks averaged 223 yards a game (Manning averaged 287.5), 1.36 touchdowns a game (Manning averaged 2.06) were sacked 2.63 times a game (Manning was sacked 1.23 times a game) and lost a fumble almost every other game (Manning lost one fumble in 32 games).
As the stats above have shown, Manning has been more productive than Cutler, Orton and Tebow and perhaps more importantly, has taken better care of the football. Manning’s impressive feats bode well for his offensive teammates, as their production will rise due to Manning’s efficiency.
“Peyton expects so much out of himself that everyone else also wants to play at that level too,” Broncos newly signed tight end Jacob Tamme, who played with Manning in Indianapolis, said on Friday. “It’s a neat thing and it’ll be fun. I think everyone will really enjoy playing the style that he brings as a leader at quarterback.”
The offense as a whole will benefit from Manning’s ability to put points on the board, something Denver struggled with last season. When the Broncos were recruiting Manning earlier in the month, Head Coach John Fox informed the veteran quarterback that when teams coached by Fox have scored 26 or more points a game, they have a 39-3 record. During his tenure in Indianapolis, Manning averaged 26 points per game.
Not only will the offensive skill players benefit from Manning’s knowledge and skill set — which features a quick release and a knack for putting points on the board — but so will the defense. Denver’s defense is built to protect leads and harass quarterbacks attempting to make a comeback, and that’s exactly what defensive end Elvis Dumervil and outside linebacker Von Miller, who averaged 1.38 combined sacks per start last season, will be looking to do in 2012.
The NFL today is a passing league and the teams that compete for championships have two things: A franchise quarterback and pass rushers to disrupt passing offenses. Denver is now equipped with both, and they will compliment each other.
If Denver is able to build leads this season and score points like Manning has historically done throughout his career, they will force teams to play from behind, which is to Denver’s benefit on defense. The Broncos defense is not built to defend against the run (as Mr. East would emphatically tell you), and the defensive unit is better suited for offensive shoot-outs.
With experienced cornerbacks in Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter, and pass rushers capable of getting franchise quarterbacks on the ground, Denver’s defense is built to compete with the elite teams in the NFL and their style of offense. With Manning as the quarterback, Denver’s offense is now ready to compete with the elite, as well.