Manning’s Deep Arm is More Than Fine
|KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 01: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos passes during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)|
Before the Broncos’ bye week, I wrote about Manning’s struggles when throwing deep
. The conclusion I came to at the time was his arm strength was fine. I concluded that with proper protection Manning could place the ball accurately on passes that travel more than 25 yards. I also noted that the Broncos receivers needed to do a better job of catching contested passes downfield.
Yet after 150 yards passing in the Patriots game some came out and questioned Manning’s arm strength again. He had not quite looked the same after the team’s Week 9 bye.
The film backs up my original investigation. Let’s take a look at the numbers from the Week 13 game against the Chiefs to show that his deep arm strength is more than fine.
In Week 13, Manning completed 8-of-10 passes 15 or more yards downfield for 268 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Entering Sunday, Manning had been off-target (over or underthrown) on almost 60 percent of his deep attempts in the three games since Denver’s bye. He missed on only one of his 10 deep attempts against the Chiefs in Week 13.
Here’s how the numbers break down since the Broncos bye.
Peyton Manning Passing 15 or more Yards Downfield, Last Four Games:
Yards Per Attempt
Manning completed as many deep passes to Eric Decker (5-of-6, three touchdowns, one interception targeting Decker at least 15 yards downfield) as he had total deep completions in his previous three games combined.
Decker became the first player to catch three passes more than 30 yards downfield in a single game since Malcolm Floyd (Chargers) in Week 5 of 2010 against the Raiders.
Manning’s completion percentage on deep throws (80 percent) was his highest since the start of 2006 (statistics per ESPN Stats & Info) in a game with more than five deep attempts.
So the next time you’re talking about Manning’s deep arm strength make sure to keep this numbers in mind.
Manning has the arm to make most any throw in the NFL. As teams start to play umbrella coverage in an attempt to take away Wes Welker and the underneath routes, Manning will be able to strike deep.
Teams will now have to begin respecting the deep targets. This means safeties will have to stay a bit further away from the line of scrimmage to honor any long route. That creates larger holes for the ground game. It also helps open up routes underneath for guys like Welker or tight end Julius Thomas.
Manning’s deep arm is more than fine. His favorite receiver on the Broncos is the open guy. If defenses give him those deep looks, Manning will take his shots downfield.
It’s all good for the Broncos offense as we enter the final quarter of the regular season. They have an energized ground game with Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball. They have Manning on a record pace this season, and they have the league’s best trio of wide receivers. Throw in an elite-level tight end like Julius Thomas, and you have the makings of the most dangerous offense in the league.
Eric Decker’s day drives Denver Broncos past Kansas City Chiefs, 35-28
By Johnny Hart
|Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) makes a catch in the end zone for a touchdown as Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers (24) defends during the game at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday in Kansas City, Mo. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)|
Heading into Sunday’s tilt in Kansas City against the Chiefs, Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker had just a trio of touchdown grabs this season.
Peyton Manning has made it habit in 2013 to spread the ball among his many offensive weapons, as Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas have roughly the same number of receptions and yards per game.
Yet, Decker had just three touchdown receptions, three times less than Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Welker.
He did a little catching up against the Chiefs.
Decker went off on the Kansas City secondary for a career day in a crucial AFC West matchup with playoff implications, nabbing four touchdowns on 174 yards.
The wide receivers career day not only tops his best efforts in receiving yards (previously 150 yards) and touchdown receptions (previously 2 touchdowns) but also sprung the Broncos to an important divisional win over the Chief with playoff seeding on the line.
With just four regular season games left, Denver (10-2) essentially holds a two game lead over the Chiefs (9-3) because the Broncos beat Kansas City twice and hold the tiebreaker.
The Chiefs will face the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers, with a combined record of 20-27, to finish the year.
The Broncos will get the Chargers, Raiders, Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, who combined for a 16-32 record.
Manning’s 403-yard, five-touchdown effort led the Broncos to victory Sunday, but the future Hall of Famer had some help on the ground from rookie Montee Ball.
In just 13 attempts, Ball, Denver’s second-round draft pick in April, finally had his breakout game of the season, going over the century mark in yardage for the first time in his career.
His career-high 9.9 yards per carry lead to 117 total rushing yards for the rookie, just 7 yards less than his previous five games combine.
On the flip side, Knowshon Moreno, working back from ankle injury suffered in his career-high 224-yard effort last week in New England, rushed for just 18 yards on 15 attempts.