Anywhere Peyton Manning goes, he’ll always be considered the smartest man in the room. Manning conducted the Colts offense like a fine tuned symphony. Very rarely did he get rattled and always seemed a step or three ahead of the opponent’s game plan. Forget titles on the corporate office front doors, Peyton Manning was quarterback and offensive coordinator. With Manning’s choice of the Denver Broncos as his next team, Manning has proved he is and isn’t the smartest man in the room.
On one hand if the intention is winning championships he made the wrong decision. San Francisco threw themselves into the mix, clearly the best team for the job. The Niners defense was in the top five, their running game is solid, they have an all-pro tight end and just added Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to their receiving corps. The only thing missing is a better quarterback. Manning said no to the Niners and an almost guaranteed ring THIS SEASON.
In choosing Denver, Manning chose a team with a good, blossoming defense but a shoddy offense. Receiver Demaryius Thomas has potential. When your quarterback is the second leading rusher on the team, that’s a bad sign. Tim Tebow was that man, running first and passing later. You know John Elway was breaking out in hives watching Tebow make a mockery of the quarterback position on the very same field he made famous. Peyton Manning saw Tebow has no chance of competing against him, and a new offensive staff he could easily manipulate. Peyton would have the autonomy to form the offense to his liking and people in the organization he was familiar with, thus he chose Denver. After having suffered through the Tebow craziness, you know Elway promised anything Manning wanted and he was doing cartwheels in his office when Manning said yes. For that reason, Manning is the smartest man in the room. He took the team that was the most fragile over the solid team where he would have less control because Niners coach Jim Harbaugh has placed his stamp all over the team with better than expected success. By now, Manning is thinking he can turn any offense into one that runs like a swiss watch, despite how bare the cupboard may be.
Which bring us to the new wrinkle in an old rivalry. Manning will now lead the Broncos against Philip Rivers and the Chargers in a race for AFC West supremacy. As much as The Greg One would have loved for the Chargers to be facing Tebow for years to come in Denver, this is a better situation for one major reason. Manning in the division is going to raise Philip Rivers game to a level we haven’t seen before. Forget the pro bowl seasons and last season’s interception laden disappointment. We all know how competitive Rivers is and despite the fact that the Chargers have missed the playoffs by a game each of the last two seasons, Rivers has owned the other AFC West quarterbacks for years. In Denver, Rivers has had the Bronco quarterbacks for lunch. Rivers dominated the rivalry against Jay Cutler, has a winning record against Tim Tebow but now that Manning is in Denver, the Broncos are instantly projected as 8-1 super bowl favorites. That will not sit well with Rivers.
The Chargers have performed admirably against Peyton Manning and Peyton knows this. The Chargers knocked the Colts out of the playoffs two seasons in a row in 2007 and 2008. The Chargers ended Manning and the Colts bid for a perfect season in 2005 as the Colts entered the game 13-0. Manning will still be facing the same figureheads that dealt him those defeats with Turner calling the plays and Rivers firing the darts all over the field. Could revenge be another reason for Peyton coming to the AFC West? Rivers has dueled Manning to a draw so far and Rivers has a 2-1 playoff record against Manning in their three playoff meetings.
Manning sees Denver as the easiest road to the Super Bowl. If he can shape up the Denver offense, it will be easier to get through the AFC with only Tom Brady as the greatest threat with Rivers, Roethlisberger and Matt Schaub, who will all be coming off down years as the next up and coming threats. In the NFC he would have had to run the gauntlet of Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Michael Vick and his brother Eli on the way to the big game. Facing Manning twice a year will make Philip Rivers work harder, study harder and motivate himself and his teammates to raise their games or be left in the dust like so many other teams Manning has steamrolled throughout his career. Iron sharpens iron. Not only will this make Rivers better, this will make Manning better. The ensuing matchups will be even more remarkable than before. With no other quarterback competition in the AFC West worth mentioning, this will be the showcase that will get Rivers the elite status he’s been taken for granted for his whole career.
The bottom line is this. Peyton Manning will NOT win a Super Bowl with the Broncos. EVER. The Broncos are extremely lacking at the receiver, tight end and the running game is only so-so because its hard to keep a Denver back on the field for any stretch of time. The Greg One will wear a RAIDERS jersey for a week if they do. That’s how sure it I am that it will never happen. Wearing a Raiders jersey will probably result in a life-threatening allergic reaction for me but i’ve said it and I stand by it. Now its in print and on the internet for the world to call me on.
Peyton chose the Broncos for the fit, not the potential of a Super Bowl ring or he would have chosen San Francisco. The next three years of Rivers vs. Manning heads up matches will be epic, nationally televised prime time viewing and will result in a Chargers Super Bowl, not a Denver Super Bowl. So bring it Peyton, we’ll be ready!