Does Manning have better weapons now than he did in Indy?

September 30, 2013
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

It was bound to happen. With quarterback Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos off to such a fast start this year, the question was bound to be asked.
And this morning on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike Show it was.

While interviewing ESPN football analyst Ron Jaworski, co-host Mike Golic asked why Manning has been so good this year. “The weapons are amazing,” Jaworski answered.

Ok, here it comes. You could feel it. It has been on the minds of just about everyone in Indianapolis for the last four weeks anyway, so someone might as well go ahead and ask it. Golic bit.

“Is it better than Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai?” Golic asked. “I mean he had some weapons [in Indianapolis]. Do you think this is a better group?”

“I think time will tell. On the surface right now, it looks better.” Jaworski answered. “But boy those guys you just mentioned were absolutely phenomenal. That was a lethal combination that Peyton had to work with back in Indianapolis. But as you look at it now, this group may supersede them.”

Jaworski is a former NFL quarterback and as anyone at ESPN will tell you, he looks at a ton of game tape. So I’m not about to discount his opinion. Nor am I going to let it slide without a little more scrutiny.

Saying “time will tell” may be the truest thing Jaws said. There’s no doubt that Denver’s offense is a talented one. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker are more than capable receivers.

But Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison are Hall-of-Fame caliber players. Welker certainly fits into that category for the Broncos current crop, but I’m not sure I would put the other in that class—certainly not yet.

While I’d give Manning’s current team a nod at the slot position, I’d take Wayne and Harrison over any receiver Denver has on its current roster. I think Manning’s Colts team also had an advantage at tight end.

Yes, Julius Thomas is young and full of potential. But if I can go back in time and have my choice between Julius Thomas and Dallas Clark as they are coming out of college, I take Clark. Now as Thomas, a Portland State grad with a limited football background, continues to develop, I could be proven wrong.

In terms of running backs, I think Addai, who played alongside Manning with the Colts and Knowshon Moreno, Denver’s running back this year, are close to a toss up. But Moreno isn’t nearly as good as Edgerrin James was in his prime with Indianapolis. It’s almost easy to forget that during the 2000 season James rushed for 1,709 yards. He rushed for more than 1,500 yards in each of the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

During that 2004 season, the Colts had three receivers—Wayne, Harrison and Brandon Stokley—with more than 1,000 receiving yards. That was the year Manning threw 49 touchdown passes, and he probably could have thrown 55 had he really wanted to. Having three receivers tally 3,400 yards and a rusher run for 1,548 yards in a single season is pretty amazing.

During the 2006 season—which culminated in a Super Bowl title—Wayne and Harrison each tallied more than 1,300 receiving yards. During that same year, Addai had nearly 1,100 rushing yards. Clark had his biggest year for the Colts (statistically speaking) in 2009 after Harrison retired. That year, Clark had 100 catches for 1,106 yards. Those are big numbers for a tight end.

It’s true that Denver currently has three receivers—Demaryius Thomas, Decker and Welker—on track to break the 1,000-yard mark. That’s impressive. Julius Thomas is on track to crack 900. Moreno is on track to rush for 952 yards.

I haven't even touched on the special relationship Manning had with all-pro center Jeff Saturday and other offensive linemen in Indy.

The one constant among all these big numbers is Manning. Anyone who even casually watches football knows that he makes everyone around him play better. The better Manning plays, no doubt, the better all his other teammates perform.

So just as intriguing as the questions being asked about his teammates—past and present—are those beginning to arise about Manning himself. Is Manning playing better than he ever did when he wore the horseshoe on the side of his helmet?

Is it possible that after so many years in the league, after four neck surgeries and all those miles on his wheels, No. 18 is still getting better? If you live anywhere other than Denver these days, that’s the scariest question of all.

Either way, in the four decades I’ve been watching football, for my money, Manning is the most entertaining football player I’ve ever seen play. Hands down.

  • Sad and frustrating, but true...
    It's sad and frustrating, but certainly appears to be true. Manning's current team in Denver is more complete on both sides of the ball than what he had here over more than a decade. (And that doesn't even include the talented Denver players who are currently suspended or injured.) I still totally agree with the Colts' decision to dump Manning for Luck, but it's crazy that Manning was here for so many years and never had a team so dominating. It's hard to watch him have something like that in just his second year with Denver. However, he's playing with a chip on his shoulder and has something to prove to Irsay and Indy. Oh well... I believe Luck will ultimately bring us many more Super Bowl appearances --and Lombardi trophies-- than Manning. I love our current team. Regular season excellence with Manning was fun, but not that satisfying come January.
  • One Name
    Polian...enough said. Take the Colts minus Manning during his reign here and you have a below average, or bad team. He must be loving actually play with a team that has a defense.
  • You have Richardson...
    Hey, you guys have Trent Richardson now, so what is the problem? Or, did you get Trent Bitchardson? Time will tell if he can get past his 3 yards and a cloud of defenders closing down on him as he jukes around looking for the hole that was there before he got to it.
  • Tony Dungy says Jaws is crazy
    Tony Dungy said this morning on the Dan Patrick radio show that Peyton's teams in Indianapolis had more offensive weaponry than does his team in Denver this year. Of course, Tony, who coached the Colts during the Peyton era could be biased.
    • Ridiculous!
      Doesn't anyone remember that the Colts started exactly as the Broncos have every season for a decade? Come on! The winningest franchise IN THE REGULAR season with a 4 TIME LEAGUE MVP and they snagged ONE Lombardi trophy. Let's see how Denver looks in the playoffs. Remember last season?
    • Mr Choke
      Do not forget this is Mr Choke. Choked last year and will exit playoffs early this year.
      • talent
        Have you seen the holes Denver's runningbacks are getting? That's one thing we NEVER had, EVER, even with Edge here. Room to run. No wonder their opponents are looking befuddled.
      • Did Bill Polian and Jim Irsay fail Manning
        The big question is why weren't the Colts able to fill the roster with guys who could open big holes for their running backs the way Denver is doing. You have to wonder if Bill Polian and Jim Irsay deserve a passing grade for their work during the Manning era. You also have to hope that Irsay will do better in his second try with a franchise QB.
      • When Manning wins a Super bowl at Denver, then the talk can start. To compare Indy under Manning and Denver is like comparing Oscar Robertson to Michael Jordan to LeBron James. Different circumstances, different variables.
      • No. Indy was anchored by multiple HOFers
        No. Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and possibly Edgerrin James are potential HOFers (James unlikely but his numbers are worthy). Add in elite talent like Glenn, Saturday, Lilja, Stokley, Clark, and even Pollard, Garcon, and Faulk (even if just for a year) then you have a supporting cast that is far superior to what Manning has now. James is FAR better than Moreno/Ball. Even Addai/Rhodes could be more effective. Harrison/Wayne/Garcon/Stokley/Clark is more potent than D Thomas/Decker/Welker/J Thomas. The O-Line that Indy boasted from 04-07 was near the top in the NFL. Denver just lost their starting LT. The key to Denver's success is similar to Indy's... Manning. Manning is the glue for both teams and the style that Manning plays you really don't lose that at his age. A pocket QB with an off-the-charts Football IQ. So to answer your question... No, the talent in Denver isn't quite as good as it was in Indy for most of those seasons. Denver is extremely potent because Manning is at the top of his game and their system fits his game. The Colts w/ Luck are running a modified version of it with great success as well. Kudos to Manning & the Broncos as well as to the Colts & Luck because it appears it was one of those very rare Win/Wins for both teams.
      • IndyLosers
        can't wait to see the broncos stomp the colts this regular season and watch colts fans whine and cry about losing peyton. I'm a fan of neither team, but the constant moaning and groaning of colts fans is sickening. How lucky to go from HOF qb to what looks like could be another in Luck. who really cares if Manning has better weapons now, which he obviously does. Manning let a crap team to a superbowl win. And now all indy fans want to do is dump on Irsay, Manning, Denver, Polian, etc. Denver is MUCH better than indy ever was. whether they finish it off this year is yet to see. but there is no question at this rate Peyton's record season will have a DEN instead of a IND behind his name
      • Manning didn't choke.
        Manning set the Broncos up in a winning position and Chump Bailey choked to let the Ravens win in the last seconds of the game with a huge catch. You should watch games you comment on.
        • choke
          A poor throw INT in OT of a playoff game is well, yeah, basically a choke.

        Post a comment to this blog

        We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
        You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
        Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
        No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
        We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

        Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

        Sponsored by
        1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

        2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email:

        3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

        4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

        5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses