Posted Mon May 14th by Guest
This is a guest post edited for BT.
It’s every NFL coach’s dream to get a quarterback that helps turn good wide receivers into great wide receivers, as that one key player can be the difference between a coach spending a long tenure on the sidelines or watching the games on Direct TV each Sunday. Take New England quarterback Tom Brady, for example, who has made Wes Welker and Deon Branch, two wide receivers who had little to no hype surrounding them, successful in the NFL. Peyton Manning is another example of a quarterback who is capable of transforming his wide receivers; his history with the Indianapolis Colts speaks for itself in that regard.
There’s no question that Manning has had some good players to lob balls to during his Super Bowl-winning tenure with the Colts, like Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison, but if you really want a good barometer of just how good of a player Peyton Manning is, all you need to do is flashback to the 2010 NFL season.
The Colts were hit with the injury bug and signed an undrafted wide receiver out of Michigan State named Blair White. With Manning mentoring him and throwing balls to him White excelled, starting four games (playing in 13) and catching 36 balls for 355 yards and five touchdowns. While many heralded White as a feel good story, having gone from undrafted to starting at wide receiver for the Colts, the real story was Manning’s ability got the most out of the players around him. Think it was White’s inherent ability that allowed for his performance? With Manning injured for the entire season in 2011, White only appeared in seven games and recorded zero receptions, a significant statistical drop that is largely evidence of the Colts’ struggles in the passing game. As of May 2012, White was a free agent looking for a new NFL home.
Manning is now a Denver Bronco and will make his first NFL start in over a year when the 2012 season kicks off this fall.
Denver has all the ingredients to make a run into the playoffs, right? Now that they have a star quarterback with a proven track record?
The answer is a resounding “yes.” While some may question the talent of the wide receiver corp (Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Andre Caldwell, etc), they need only look at their starting quarterback, who, if healthy, can make average receivers look like all-pro receivers.
The most interesting of the wide receiver bunch for Denver, however, is Thomas. The third-year pro broke out in the second half of 2011, culminating in an NFL playoffs record-breaking performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s where Denver has to be salivating; think about what Manning was able to do with Blair White two seasons ago and expand the effect to a player of Thomas’s stature.
So when you hear coaches brag about how certain players of theirs “make everyone around them better,” think of Peyton Manning. He leads by example off the field and on the field and is able to take average talent to beyond average levels. It’s why management should never be concerned about who they’re surrounding him with in terms of wide receivers. The Blair White example is prime evidence of someone who excelled under Manning and struggled mightily without him. And players like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne were very talented players who Manning also made better.
The bottom line is that if you’re a wide receiver and can catch a ball, Peyton Manning will make you good. If you’re a good wide receiver capable of the occasional highlight, Peyton Manning will make you exceptional.