Denver Broncos’ players and coaches have raved about Peyton Manning’s teaching skills and leadership ability during the team’s OTAs. Manning has spent a lot of time during the team’s practices instructing players on how he plans to run the offense.
This is one of the reasons why wide receivers play so well under Manning’s leadership. He makes sure they are in the right place at the right time and helps them to see what he sees on the field.
Too bad his teaching skills don’t extend to backup quarterbacks or running backs.
Manning didn’t seem to put much trust in running backs during his time with the Colts after he lost his favorite workhorse Edgerrin James. When healthy, James was good for around 1,500 yards rushing and at least 50 receptions per year.
But after James left, Indy’s rushing totals got lower year after year as Manning relied less on the running game. This may have been due to the fact that the three backs that have started since James left weren’t as talented as James was but Manning also called way less run plays after James left.
Manning called his own plays in Indianapolis and called well over 400 run plays per year when he had James in the backfield but barely called over 300 running plays per year after James left via free agency.
That doesn’t bode well for Willis McGahee or Knowshon Moreno who will both struggle to surpass 500 rushing yards apiece if the coaching staff allows Manning to call plays the way he did in Indianapolis.
And we all know how pitiful the backup quarterback situation was in Indianapolis when Manning was there. Manning had seven different backups during his time with the Colts and none of them seemed to have a firm grasp on the offense.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone when you realize that Manning was the offense. He calls the plays and the offense revolves around him so it’s not hard to see why someone else would struggle to back him up.
Manning also hates to take off plays so there were seasons when the backup quarterback didn’t even see the field. While Manning was good for 12 to 14 wins per season when he was healthy, the Colts got to see first-hand why having an offense so dependent on one player is not such a good idea.
The Colts struggled mightily when Manning missed all of the 2011 season with a neck injury. General manager Bill Polian received most of the blame for not developing a suitable backup who could have stepped in when Manning went down but there wasn’t much more they could have done after the way Indy’s coaches let Manning take over the offense.
The Broncos paid handsomely in hopes that Manning will bring his winning ways to Denver but if Manning is allowed to run Denver’s offense the way he ran Indy’s then the Broncos can give up all hope of developing their second round draft pick Brock Osweiler.
At least Denver’s wide receivers will be happy this year. Manning will have those guys playing at a high level and one or two of them may even make the Pro-Bowl.
Fans and management will be happy too as long as Manning can replicate the 12 to 14 wins per season he produced in Indianapolis. Let’s check back in a couple of years to see how Osweiler and the run game are doing before we give Manning props on his teaching skills though.
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Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at email@example.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.