Despite Manning’s struggles, Broncos keep winning

No matter what number, statistic or measure you use to determine a professional quarterback’s performance level, you will find the same name near the top of every list.

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No matter what number, statistic or measure you use to determine a professional quarterback’s performance level, you will find the same name near the top of every list. He was the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft and the only player to win five MVP awards (no one else has won more than 3). He holds nearly every record a quarterback can, both at the UT and in the NFL. Peyton Manning is, without question, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL.

That’s why it’s so sad for so many people that Manning has been struggling this year. He’s already thrown 10 interceptions this season in his first six games, against only seven

Photo by Jeffrey Beall. Courtesy of creativecommons.org.
Photo by Jeffrey Beall. Courtesy of creativecommons.org. No changes made.

touchdowns. If he keeps this pace up, it’ll be the fewest touchdowns and second-most interceptions he’s ever thrown in a single season. Manning is posting his worst quarterback rating since his rookie season, all the way back in ’98. His completion percentage is the second-lowest of his career and he’s gaining the fewest yards per pass attempt he ever has.

In other words, Manning is showing his age. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise though – he’s 39 years old, has had several neck surgeries and can’t even feel the tips of his fingers. But it’s still tough to watch.

Despite Manning’s struggles, however, the Broncos are still undefeated going into their bye week. They’ve not only survived Manning’s issues – they’ve thrived, and it’s mostly due to their defense.

Every part of the Denver defense has been fearsome to this point, starting with the pass rush. The Broncos have sacked opposing quarterbacks 26 times, more than every other team in the league. Even when quarterbacks can get rid of the ball, the Denver secondary has done its job by grabbing nine interceptions, second only to the Arizona Cardinals. With both parts of the pass defense performing so well, opposing quarterbacks have only managed a quarterback rating of 69.6, landing the Broncos as the No. 3 pass defense in the NFL.

The rush defense hasn’t been as incredibly dominant as the pass defense, but Denver has held its own on the ground as well, allowing the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game. All of this adds up to Denver allowing only 17 points per game, good for No. 4 in the league.

Manning has been bad to this point in the season, but he’s been good enough to this point to not drag the Denver defense down. The Broncos are sitting at first place in their division and it looks like making the playoffs won’t be too much of a challenge for them. A good defense can lead a subpar quarterback to an NFL title, but if Manning could improve even a little bit and look more like the quarterback we know and love, things would get a lot easier for the Broncos.

Edited by Cody McClure