Sure Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning threw three interceptions against the Atlanta Falcons’ paltry defense and struggled with his accuracy on deep throws. Truth be told, people were foolish to think that his arm strength would fully return so soon after being cleared to resume playing.
Or to assume that it would completely return. There is the possibility that we will never see the old Manning who had the ability to make those deep throws he attempted on Monday but people are missing the big picture.
Manning’s arm isn’t the thing that has made him so dangerous throughout his career. The reason he has been so good throughout the years is his ability to make quick decisions and frustrate defenses by deciphering what they are doing.
Just like he did with Atlanta’s defense on Monday. Sure they confused him a bit in the first quarter by throwing him some looks he hadn’t seen in a while but he played well the last three quarters of the game.
As a matter of fact, Manning came close to pulling one of his patented fourth-quarter comebacks. Starting with his last drive in the third quarter, Manning led the Broncos to two fourth-quarter scores.
His defense just wasn’t able to get him that final possession he needed in order to pull out the win.
Despite his supposed “limitation”, Manning still figured out how to put together two scoring drives even with the Falcons daring him to throw it deep. Most importantly though, he didn’t throw another interception after throwing those three first-quarter picks.
If Manning’s arm is truly limited as many suspect, then he will have problems when facing some of the better defenses in the league this season. But most of the defenses he will face this season will find out that it's not particularly smart to test Manning.
That’s because Manning’s arm is only part of the equation of what has made Manning so great all of these years. Whether his arm is strong or not, the one thing that hasn’t changed about Manning is his mind.
And where there is a will, there is a way. Anyone who knows Manning knows that he is the most cerebral quarterback in the game and as Atlanta found out, he can still be pretty accurate on his shorter throws.
He also has a more reliable running game than the one he had during his last few seasons in Indianapolis. Running back Willis McGahee torched the Falcons’ defense for 113 yards and two fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns.
McGahee was set up for those two scores by Manning-orchestrated drives, which just goes to show how resourceful Manning can be when he has to. Manning had essentially turned the tides on Atlanta’s defense by the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately the deficit was too much for Manning and the Broncos to overcome. Whether Manning admits his limitations or not, he at least knows they are there and can plan accordingly from this point forward.
And that may not bode well for the rest of the defenses Manning will face this season.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.
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