Kiss My Rant: Top 5 Reasons Why Peyton Manning is the NFL’s Best QB
March 20, 2012 began the definitive elevation for a Denver Broncos team that made it to the second round of the playoffs just a couple months earlier with a budding NFL icon at QB, Tim Tebow. On that Tuesday, Peyton Manning, the most sought after free agent since Drew Brees committed to the Broncos for a measly 5yr/$96M contract, in what would eventually change the careers of all who he has come in contact with in the Mile High city.
That's right, Manning, who limited his choices to those teams that would compete for a championship now, decided to take his talents to Dove Valley, home of another Super Bowl winning Hall of Fame QB, John Elway. Just after 4:00pm, Elway was quoted as saying,
"The work's just beginning. Obviously, the expectation level's gonna go up, but that's where we want it to be."
Just a short while earlier, Manning himself stated,
"I'm planning on playing a long time. This is a now situation, we're trying to do whatever we can to win now."
Let me just add this. Peyton Manning has exceeded, I believe, all expectations through the first 14 weeks of this 2012 NFL season. Anyone that argues that is simply misinformed. While we, as fans, have the joy of watching some of the best quarterback play in the history of the NFL with names like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, both Manning's, and now even the rookies like Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, there is one who truly stands above the rest.
Yes, that man is the only four time NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and master of the audible at the line, Peyton Manning. The Broncos went to the playoffs in 2011 with Tebow as their QB, but their defense played a huge part in keeping games close for a miracle at the end. But if either game against the New England Patriots last year were any indication, the Broncos were never going to push for a Super Bowl berth with Tebow, never mind a win.
It has taken more than just the name of Manning to lead this team to a 10-3 record, an AFC West division title, and the possibility of playing for a two, or even a one seed in the conference. The Broncos are the only team in the NFL ranked in the top five in both offense and defense, and are considered to be the most complete team in the league.
Here are five reasons why I know that Peyton Manning is the best QB in the NFL. I get the arguments for any other QB's that could make this list, but there are certain intangibles that we may never see again by a 36 year old leader that lost a year and a half to four neck surgeries, came back to play for a completely different team and coaches, and has began right where he left off. So you may leave me comments below, rant the fact that I am right or wrong, but in the end, it is my own opinion based on fact and week to week results. If you can't believe that, then you can just Kiss My Rant.
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#5 Work Ethic That Spreads Like A Communicable Disease
We have all heard about how the great quarterbacks in the league are the ones who come early, stay late, watch more tape than the coaches and simply command their will onto others. But Peyton Manning takes his work ethic to a completely different level.
At 36 years old, he may have inherited his father Archie's cool demeanor, but he will out-hustle the best on the field. Manning will tie up his receivers and lineman for hours going over the minute details that will inevitably change the game. Manning will decipher, pick apart, and reconstruct game tapes with a fine tooth comb until he knows exactly what opposing defenses are throwing at him.
And those are just the stories you may hear from teammates and coaches. How about Lou Holtz when he was coaching Notre Dame stating that Manning had asked him more questions than any player in his then, thirty five years of coaching. Manning is a fanatic, a control freak, and also very determined to continue at a high level for quite some time.
For those that doubt in Manning, just look at the way the Broncos as a team carry themselves in practice or a game, and the proof is before your eyes. This is a disciplined squad that has set its sights on a goal, while stopping at nothing to attain it. That is the type of work ethic that Manning has brought to Dove Valley: the kind that spreads like a communicable disease.
#4 Unmatched Improvisational Skills at the Line of Scrimmage
Where Manning excels is his innate ability to read defenses and adjustments better than most, if not all, that have ever played the position. For years in Indianapolis, Manning would start in the shotgun, race to the line, change a play, change it again, call an audible, read the defense one last time, and still have time to adjust if needed before taking the snap with one second left. And his reads did not stop there.
As soon as the snap was sent, Manning would take a few steps back and quickly read the defense as it opened up, while stepping into a throw and letting lose. More often than not it was a pass that split two defenders while cradling into the arms of Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne or Pierre Garcon. At age 36, it is evident that Manning has not lost a step in not only reading defenses, but getting this Broncos team comfortable with his crazy audibles and frantic scramble at the line as the clock winds down.
To do that with the Colts was one thing after years of playing with the same personnel. But to be so efficient in Denver with a new offensive line, WR's, RB's and TE's, is quite impressive. Each week, Manning improves the quality of the play calling while testing and challenging his teammates to reach for a higher level. Yes, there are others that control the line of scrimmage and call audibles efficiently, but Manning has made this action his science. And when the master is on his mark, there is nobody better in the game, and he will make sure that Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker become his new arsenal that will take them to the promised land.
#3 An Innate Teaching Ability
Speaking of Decker and Thomas, aka, Salt and Peppa, Manning has become the teacher in both the locker room and on the field. He has taken these two young wide receivers and have begun to make them stars in this league. Thomas sits just shy of 1200 yards, while Decker is just south of the 800 yard mark with three games to play. Manning has taken these two and spent countless hours explaining, showing, going over tape, sharing in game analysis and simply teaching them his idiosyncrasies.
Manning's will and determination to teach was never more evident when the offense started off slow in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 13. What did he do? Not once, but twice, Manning pulled his offense together on the sideline to go over plays and get everyone on the same page so the mistakes would not keep happening. After trailing 10-7 at the half, Denver reeled off 24 second half points to win the game 31-23.
The mark of a true leader and a player that wants to be the best is not only setting the bar, but being able to explain to others how they, too, can attain it. His teaching extends to all areas of the offense as everyone understands what he is seeing on the field, and eventually all 11 begin to share in his vision.
#2 Refusal to Quit
Do I really need to elaborate on Peyton Manning's refusal to quit? I mean, the man went through four neck surgeries, and was out of the NFL for 19 months, while many waxed poetic about his inability to regain his arm strength and not be able to play at the level that he once did with the Colts.
Fourteen weeks in and I do believe those people owe him an apology. While Manning has said since March 20th that he would need time to get back to 100% and that his arm may not be as strong as it once was, nobody should ever question his will. It is this sheer determination that will win the Broncos a championship, be it this year or next.
From his practice with Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton in the summer of 2011 during the NFL lockout, until his win last week over the Oakland Raiders, nobody has worked harder to return to the game they love more than Peyton Manning. This refusal has also spread like wildfire throughout the Broncos clubhouse as youngsters like Wesley Woodyard, Chris Harris, Tony Carter, and even Brandon Stokley have stepped up in big ways while not allowing themselves to call it a day. Head Coach John Fox owes a lot to Manning for helping mold this team into a determined winner.
#1 Humbleness, Honesty and Oh Yeah...Stats
Peyton Manning is one of the most humble people you will ever meet. The pedigree that runs from Archie, to Peyton, down into Eli is one that can never be taught, but simply is morphed through osmosis. He can be labeled as the greatest to ever play the game and he would not feed into the fodder, simply proclaiming that it is because of a complete team effort that the winning happened. We know better as fans though. Watching him week in and week out, it is easy to understand that it is because of Manning, and Manning alone that the Colts achieved what they did, and so will the Broncos.
Manning is brutally honest with himself, his teammates, the media and the fans when looking in the mirror. He is not afraid to say that he made the mistake, or it was because of his lack of teaching and guidance that a route was not executed correctly. But in the end, take everything that makes up Peyton Manning and the proof will be there. It is not simply enough that Manning has a great work ethic, or can improvise on the fly, can teach others while learning himself, refuses to quit, or is humble and brutally honest with himself and others.
The man also has the stats to back up everything he has ever been known for in the NFL. In 2012, Manning's line reads as follows: 330-483 for 3,812yds, 68%comp, 30TDs, 10INTs and a 104 rating. At 36 years old with a new team, these stats should be unheard of in today's NFL. By comparison, you can basically combine both years that Joe Montana played in a Chiefs uniform together, and you would fall short of what Manning has done. I understand that this league has Brady, Brees and Rodgers. But Peyton Manning has proved yet again, just why he is the best QB in the NFL.