DENVER (CBS4) – Peyton Manning is arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. He’s the only four-time NFL MVP in league history, a five-time All-Pro, a Super Bowl champion, and the fastest to 50,000 passing yards with the biggest TD-INT ratio (201) of any QB.
While Manning has all the physical attributes anyone could want in a quarterback — 6-foot-5 with a laser-rocket arm—what propelled him to the top of the football world was his intelligence.
Manning is a master at reading NFL defenses, able to see just what they want to do before it happens, analyzing their alignments and breaking it all down in mere seconds. He’s a furiously devoted film studier, learning everything he can about the his opponent and finding ways to exploit their weaknesses.
He’s also great at changing up snap counts, and even calling out a cadence just to wait and see where the defense moves, to detect which players are coming and which ones will drop back. After the master reads the defense, he looks to pick it apart.
Manning absolutely loves calling audibles, and he does so in a way never seen before. He hoots and hollers, yelling to offensive linemen their blocking responsibilities, then uses so many hand motions he looks like he’s speaking sign language. And really, he is.
Manning’s calling hot routes, telling his receivers where he wants them by changing their routes on the fly. More often than not, he finds them open, dropping the ball in just over their shoulder for a seemingly easy first down or score. Of course, he can also check off from a pass to a run, if the veteran QB sees a lighter nickel or dime defense being used by the opposing team.
He’s so smart, Manning even uses “dummy calls” –– fake audibles to throw the defense off and keep them guessing the entire time. It’s the element of surprise utilized profoundly well by Peyton that makes him one of the most difficult quarterbacks to slow down, let alone, stop. Of course, that task becomes even more arduous when he’s constantly hurrying his team to the line for the next play.
No, Manning didn’t invent the hurry-up offense, but he did perfect it. Other teams imitate him, but no one runs the no huddle offense like Manning. First, he reads the defense. Next, he exploits them. Then, he does so repeatedly. Manning in the hurry-up offense doesn’t allow the defense to substitute players, so they get tired faster and easier to abuse. It means Manning and his team can methodically march downfield in some instances, forcing the opponent to either call a timeout or allow a touchdown.
His offense, with multiple audibles and the no huddle used extensively, revolutionized how other teams play offense in the NFL today. What it means for the Broncos, is that their offense will have a certain advantage over even the best defenses with No. 18 at the helm. His Colts averaged 26 points per game though his 13 seasons with the team, which would be almost exactly a touchdown more than Denver averaged in 2011 (19.3).
It also means more balance to the Broncos offense that was the No. 1 rushing team last year, making opposing defenses’ jobs even more difficult.
Denver has the toughest schedule of any team in the NFL this season and they face dominant defenses in the Steelers and Ravens, while the Falcons, Texans and Raiders defenses have all improved greatly as of late. But no matter who the Broncos face, they’ll be confident their offense will overcome as long as Peyton Manning is calling the plays.
Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.