The Evolution of The Sheriff: Peyton Manning

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning used to instill fear in defenses because he was going to pick them apart and dissect their entire squad. He had the power and accuracy to hit every throw, alongside the mental ability to change the play to the best play to beat a defense. There was just about nobody who could outsmart Manning on the field. No matter the disguise they put out, he would know where and how to attack the defense.

Then came the neck injury. No one knew what would happen with Manning. He had several surgeries as he watched the empire he built in Indianapolis crumble under the guidance of Curtis Painter. Then the name Andrew Luck hit the media as he lit the college ranks on fire and displayed the best talent since Peyton. He was seen as the next Peyton Manning coming out of college. The Colts were faced with a choice. Choose to stay with an aged Manning coming off of several neck surgeries on his nerves, or grab the college sensation that was seen as a sure thing at the quarterback position.

As the Colts picked a new face of the franchise, Manning was left in the trash heap as the world waited to see if he could ake the comeback. After saying he was ready to come back, he went on a tour around the league but ultimately decided to sign with  the Broncos. Following his signing, Manning lit the league on fire. Culminating in his record breaking, MVP 2013 season, in which he passed for 5477 yards, 55 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He led them to his third Super Bowl but was ultimately blown out by the up and coming Seahawks. 

Then Father Time caught up with Manning towards the end of the 2014 season as the cold got to him. His arm got weaker and he was no longer a threat longer than 15 yards. The Broncos were eliminated again, this time in the Conference Championship round by the Patriots. Manning was left to contemplate wether or not he would come back.

Now comes the Manning that we all see today. Some may blame it on his foot and other injuries. But, the reason he has led the NFL in interceptions despite not even playing a full season, is that he no longer has the arm to be the main show. After being benched in a 5 interception outing against the Chiefs, Manning was left to ponder whether to keep fighting and failing, or to adjust and become a game manager in order to win. During his "healing" time, Manning somehow decided he would rather win and learned how to take care of the ball and just manage the game rather than try to take it over. When he came back to replace Brock Osweiller off the bench, he was a new Peyton. Using his brain to set up runs and short passes instead of constantly setting a play up for himself. 

Because of this we see the Evolution of Manning. He used to run the town as the Sheriff. Now he is the older, wiser seriff that runs the show and allows his deputies to go out and save the city. He has some pretty good deputies between the nasty Broncos defense, Demaryious Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, CJ Anderson, and Ronnie Hillman. The new more ball secure Manning, is the only thing that gives this defense the back up it needs to stand a chance against the fiery Panthers. Now it is just to be seen wether or not he can accept the need to ride off into the sunset or wether he will stick around even longer and make himself look even worse.