Monday, October 12, 2015

Whither Peyton

Some things you hardly ever want to say, on account of they might come back to haunt you/make people laugh at you/take a big wet bite out of your hindparts:

1. I'll remember where I put (fill in the blank).

2. There's no way we lose this game.

3. It's just a phase.

Oh, and one more ...

4. Peyton Manning is finished.

People who should know better are saying that now, and, well, maybe they're right this time. Certainly the man looks like he's skipped a few decades and has landed in his 70s. He can't throw downfield anymore (or so it appears). His deep outs flutter like young hearts in love. He's already thrown seven picks, and we're barely to Columbus Day.

Conclusion: Peyton Manning looks exactly like a 39-year-old man who's had four neck surgeries. He looks like someone shot him through a wormhole, and he came out the other side as Y.A. Tittle in, say, 1964.

I mean, who can forget this?

Tell me that doesn't remind you a little of Peyton these days.

He was 22-of-35 for 266 yards on Sunday, and his Broncos wheezed past Oakland to remain undefeated. But Manning threw two more picks, both to Charles Woodson. One of them Woodson intercepted in the end zone almost in self defense, because there wasn't a Bronco within a nautical mile of it. Heaven only knows who the intended receiver was, unless it was actually the 39-year-old Woodson as part of some sort of AARP brothers-in-arms deal.

Everyone's conclusion: After years of carrying his team, his team is carrying Peyton now. He is, after all, the 30th-ranked quarterback in the NFL today according to Pro Football Focus, down there with the likes of Jimmy Clausen and Johnny Manziel.

Here's what I think, having watched a fair chunk of Broncos-Raiders yesterday: I think that analysis is right on the mark.

I also you think you're a damn fool if you sleep on the guy because of that.

Remember when all those same people who should know better thought he was done the last time, after the Indianapolis Colts flushed him because Andrew Luck was waiting in the wings? All Manning did across the three next seasons was throw for 14,863 yards and 131 touchdowns, including 5,477 and 55 in 2013, when he got the Broncos to the Super Bowl.

So much for done.

So much, too, for the notion that the Broncos' defense is all there is to the Broncos. Because Peyton is still Peyton, proud and stubborn and, as ever, frighteningly in earnest. And so one of these weeks someone is going to game plan for the Broncos without paying him proper mind, and he's gonna lay one of his Rembrandts on 'em, just for old times' sake.

He won't do that every week, of course. At this stage, he won't even do it every month.

But woe to anyone who thinks he won't ever do it again.


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