The quarterback is the most important player on every successful NFL team, and the left tackle is the second most important. Just as the movie The Blind Side accurately depicts, the left tackle protects the quarterback’s blind side and prevents him from sustaining serious injuries from getting hit from behind. While the offensive line rarely gets the credit it is due, the recent season ending foot injury of Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady will deter a possibly historic season for Peyton Manning and bring plenty of attention to the importance of the offensive line.
Clady suffered his tragic foot injury late in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants last week, and it was announced today that he will be placed on injured reserve as he is done for the season and will possibly need surgery. With Clady out, that means backup left tackle Chris Clark, who is a four year veteran with six career starts, will be protecting Manning’s blind side for the rest of the season.
Through just two games this season Manning has already been turning heads with his play and his numbers. Manning is completing an astounding 67 percent of his passes so far and has gained a total of 769 yards through the air while also throwing for nine touchdowns. Manning also has the highest quarterback rating of his career with a 131 rating, which is 10 points higher than his previous high in 2004 when he won his second MVP award.
Manning is currently on pace to throw for 72 touchdowns, which would blow away the current NFL record of 50 set by Tom Brady in 2007. While it was unlikely Manning would keep this pace up before the news of Clady’s injury came out, now that he is missing his star left tackle the odds of him setting the record have gone down even more.
Manning will still have a standout season for the Broncos and will likely still lead them to the playoffs despite the concerning injury to Clady. However, the hopes of Manning having a historic season at the age of 37 have gone way down now that he will likely feel more pressure while in the pocket and could even suffer an injury of his own if Clark has trouble blocking some of the best defensive ends in the game.