People call Peyton Manning the “sheriff” for the way he controls the offense at the line of scrimmage, but in the first three weeks of the 2013 season, he has been nothing short of an executioner.
Everyone knows about the record-breaking stats – 12 touchdowns and no interceptions in three games – but it is the way Manning has single-handedly dismembered defenses that has been the most shocking. With all the weapons he has in Denver this year, Manning has made playing quarterback in the NFL look easy.
Entering the Monday night game, Peyton and the Denver Broncos had already barraged the last two Super Bowl champs through the air. The only question was, could Manning and the offense continue this extraordinarily high level of play without a viable running game or the team’s two best defenders?
The answer: unequivocally yes. If anything, the Manning-led offense looked even more dominant in Week 3.
Before Monday night, the Oakland Raiders were ranked as the third-best pass defense in the league, allowing an average of only 189 yards through the air per game. In only three quarters (backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was put in during the fourth), Peyton Manning threw for 374 yards, 20 first downs and three touchdowns. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that he did so while only throwing five incomplete passes.
As with the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 and the New York Giants in Week 2, Manning picked the Raiders apart play by play. You could actually see the fight in each Raiders player dwindle as Manning converted short third down after third down.
With Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and newly discovered tight end Julius Thomas, defenses are so spread out they simply cannot cover all of these receivers — especially against Manning’s pinpoint accuracy, rapid-fire release and adroit ability to read defenses.
After just a few adjustments at the line of scrimmage, every offensive play seemed to be an easy completion for at least five or six yards. Then, when defenses pressed the short routes or blitzed, Peyton took his chance deep. Inside, outside, short or deep — there really isn’t an effective way to attack this passing offense.
There is a feeling around the Broncos this year that something really special is going on. Not just record-breaking games and seasons, but a collection of players that only come around once an era.
Everybody, from the special team players to all of the backups and everyone in between, are not only athletic and talented players, but they are also particularly intelligent and have responded well to the astonishingly high standards of preparation set by Manning and the Broncos’ coaching staff.
Moreover, they all work well with each other both on and off the field, and none of them are egomaniacs who complain about not getting the ball enough.
As a whole, this group truly understands that doing the little things like running a decoy route to perfection, soundly cracking a linebacker, or even making sure Peyton Manning gets the correct information from the previous drive on sideline can be just as important as the play they make when they are the primary look — and that is what’s going to make them so great: they are selfless, motivated and have one of the best ever directing them.
You could literally see the appreciation for everybody’s hard work this week and as Manning came back on the field for the last kneel-down of the game on Monday and congratulated his teammates.
Giving a quarterback like Manning weapons like this and allowing them to create their own offense based off their unanimous reactions to defenses will not only be a pleasure for the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, but also a true joy to watch as a football fan.
It appears clear this year that Peyton will cement himself as the best to ever every play quarterback , and with the help of his teammates, he has never done it better than right now (he is currently on pace to throw for 6,096 yards and 64 touchdowns) – stay tuned!
Written by John Spina follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @jsspina24