After a 2013-2014 season which saw the Denver Broncos advance to the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning and Co. have suffered yet another disappointing exit from postseason play. Despite a 12-5 regular season record, the Broncos failed to protect home field with a second round playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, final score 24-13. Questions have began to circulate regarding the future of Manning. Is this the end of an era? Is it time for Peyton Manning to hang up his jersey? The Sport Unbiased team discuss the fate of the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Zach Bigalke: When Peyton Manning ultimately retires, we will remember him most for the consistency and longevity that have led to his possession of most of the career passing records. But we will also remember that as one half of a Jekyll/Hyde dichotomy where his regular-season prowess was matched with a relative inability to show an equivalent level of dominance in the postseason. He’s 38 years old, he’s had major neck surgery, and against the Colts he was beyond mediocre. He completed barely more than 50 percent of his passes, could only muster 4.6 yards per attempt, and posted a pedestrian 75.5 quarterback rating. There is always a tipping point where the greatest athletes are rendered mortal and we are forced to confront the fact that their greatness is fleeting. After showing so much promise in his first two seasons in Denver, this AFC Divisional Round matchup against Indianapolis feels like it will be remembered as the moment when Manning time among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL started to noticeably wane.
Bobby Bourhis: Unfortunately for Peyton Manning, he has suffered another heart-breaking playoff loss. The ‘Peyton Manning Era’ has been slowly fading over the course of this season (and perhaps even started fading last year in the Super Bowl). His throws appear to be less accurate and have less power behind them. The Broncos can continue to have success if they are able to acquire an above average running back. Additionally, Peyton can still play in this league, but he is going to have to adjust his play-style. As we have seen from him over the course of the year, Peyton has preferred to throw short passes and let his athletic receivers do some of the work after the catch. For Manning to continue to be successful he is going to have to play more of a west-coast style offense. Think of a rich man’s Alex Smith with much more limited mobility. Manning and the Broncos can still enjoy success together, but Peyton will never be the Peyton Manning we once saw, simply because of his inability to throw deep like he once could.
Adam Solowiei: The overall demise of Peyton Manning that I have been hearing and reading since the loss is blown out of control a bit. Are we seeing one of the greatest all-time begun to slide down the other side of his career arch? Sure but to say the era is over is an overstatement. Peyton is long in the tooth at 38 years old and is the recipient of major neck surgery. But, he is far from the bottom tier of NFL quarterbacks. His arm gets tired towards the end of season as evident by the wobbling arch you witnessed this weekend. But that is nothing new.
Peyton Manning struggling in the playoffs and under pressure is nothing new either. Overall, he has excelled in the regular season and lapsed against the premium playoff opponents. Overall, I think the decline is coming and we are seeing the beginning. Overall, the Peyton Manning era still has one to two full seasons left in it.
Keith Rivas: Hear ye, hear ye, the time has come for the king to come from the throne. Many familiar with professional football would argue that Peyton Manning is one of the greatest of all-time at the position. While I must digress the fact that he has miraculous ways of providing record-breaking offense in the regular season, I am not thoroughly impressed with Manning’s playoff resume.
And it’s for this reason that I feel the divisional round loss on Sunday was the period to the end of the Manning era.
In 24 career playoff starts, Manning holds an odd 11-13 win/loss record. While with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning went 9-10 in the playoffs and has gone 2-3 with the Broncos including their most recent loss this past Sunday to Indianapolis in Denver.
Not to mention the fact that in being such a great player in the regular season, Manning only has one Super Bowl Ring to show for it. That ring was earned as a member of the Colts and came against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints back in 2006.
Peyton’s younger brother, Eli, has two Super Bowl rings both against one of the best quarterbacks we have ever seen–Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.
As if one was not enough, Eli has been able to knock out Brady on the biggest stage in football a total of two times. It was thought that last season might have been Peyton’s year, as his Broncos held on to the best offense in the league coming into Super Bowl 49 against the young and reckless Seattle Seahawks.
But the Broncos quickly learned that it’s defense, not offense, that wins championships. Manning found out the hard way, being on the losing side of a 43-8 whooping.
Unable to put his serious woes behind him, Manning has finally fallen a victim of something we call time. This is an irreversible effect and, although I am sure that Denver fans would like to see him back out in the orange and blue, the chances of a return after a loss like Sunday’s loss are slim, if not already down to none.
And that can’t feel too good, Broncos fans, can it?