Oakland Raiders: What to Expect when Facing Peyton Manning Twice a Year
David Wilson – Mar 29, 2012
This season the Raiders have a number of challenges ahead of them. They have a new Head Coach, and a new General Manager for the first time in, well, many years. Perhaps the biggest challenge that they will face though is the new quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning.
Manning has been elite during his fourteen year career in the NFL, and must go down as one of the best regular season quarterbacks of all time.
So the Raiders not only have to transition to a new system on both sides of the ball, but must also find ways to beat Manning twice a year.
This signing for Denver though, is not without risk. So this coming year, what can Oakland expect of Peyton Manning?
Manning did not play last season due to a neck problem that led to multiple surgeries, but in 2010 still threw for 4700 yards and 33 touchdowns. His interceptions, at 17, were the highest since 2002, and his average gain (6.9) was the lowest since his rookie year in 1998.
Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie has already done an excellent job of shoring up the cornerback position with the signings of Ron Bartell, Pat Lee, & Shawtae Spencer. They also have a strong defensive line, with Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, and Matt Shaugnessy. Even with an improved defense, it will tough be to contain a healthy Manning.
Manning is capable of carrying a team on his shoulders to a playoff spot, and did so with the Colts for a number of years.
At 36, he is still top class but getting old. It won’t affect him making plays with his feet, that was never his style, but clearly his body is showing the signs of over a decade of pounding in the NFL. The neck injury in particular is worthy of note.
Mr. Vijay Kane, an orthopaedic surgeon for over 30 years from England, had this to say.
“The deterioration of discs that causes patients to have cervical fusion surgery is symptomatic of the condition of the neck as a whole, which is not good. Whilst the fusing of vertebrae may alleviate the problem in the short term, the lack of flexibility where the fusion has occurred puts more pressure on the rest of the vertebrae in the neck. This means an increased risk of similar problems with other discs.”
“This injury also exposes players to an increased, if not overtly high risk, of being left quadriplegic after a bad tackle. “
He goes on to add “I have known this injury in a lot of rugby players. For the reasons I have already outlined, when you get this injury in rugby, it means that you are retired, period. If you continue to play, you put your health very much at risk”.
With this on his in mind, will Peyton Manning be the same?
Will he be able to hold up in the face of the rush? Even for a fit and healthy player, it takes some real nerve.
Coming to Denver seemed a particularly odd choice for Manning. They have one of the worst offensive lines in the league in terms of pass protection, at a time when protection for Manning is more critical than ever. J. D. Walton and Zane Beadles must be two of the worst starting interior linemen in the league, and right tackle Orlando Franklin is a liability in pass protection.
In the off season, you would have expected the Broncos to upgrade the offensive line, but so far they have not.
So whilst Manning will be an elite quarterback who the Raiders have to face within their division now, this is a very fragile situation. We won’t find out how fragile though, until Manning gets hit hard again.
It could be that he will be fine and be his old self, it could just as easily be that his playing career will end very soon.
If it does, then GM John Elway will have traded away the only quarterback to win a playoff game for Denver in over ten years, Tim Tebow.
Karma is a strange thing.
To combat the threat of Manning, the Raiders and the other teams in the AFC West need to be dialling up as much pressure as they can on every down. The NFL is not somewhere that is kind to you as a player when you are vulnerable or hurt. They grind you into the turf.
Survival of the fittest.
How many defensive players are just waiting to slam Manning into the ground, knowing that if they do then the season will be over for a rival team? When Brett Favre was carrying injuries in his later years, no one did him any favours (especially not the Saints…). Manning shouldn’t expect any either.
So while Manning has hugely upgraded the passing game in Denver, there is no way of knowing how long that upgrade will last.
As a Raiders fan, I of course hope that Manning doesn’t play long or well for Denver. I also hope though that he gets the chance to walk away and enjoy his family and his money without long term disability.
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