The Denver Broncos are facing rumors that the Peyton Manning era may be coming to an end, with Peyton’s deteriorating play forcing the team to think about a succession plan.
After watching his output dip across 2014 as he dealt with a number of injuries, Peyton had a less-than-stellar start to the 2015 season. He threw for just 175 yards on 40 attempts and no touchdowns in a 19-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens, needing some excellent play from the team’s defense to seal the victory.
Afterward, Manning admitted that he and the offense have a lot of work to do, and even got a bit annoyed with reporters.
“Everybody is looking for these summaries of our offense and our team after Week 1 and I just don’t think we’re going to be able to do that,” he said (via NFL.com). “It’s Week 1. We’re a work in progress. If you need a catchy headline for your little article or whatever it is you might be doing, we’re trying to get better every single week. What’s another cliché I can think of? We’re chipping away. Something along those lines.”
But if Manning continues to decline, the team could turn its attention to the future. There have been rumors for several months that the Denver Broncos will look to Brock Osweiler, the backup who many believe will be taking over the starting job when Peyton steps aside. If Manning continues to play poorly — and if a team like the San Diego Chargers can build an early lead in the division — that succession plan could come into play sooner rather than later.
It’s difficult to tell if there is any truth to the rumors of Peyton Manning’s decline. One game is not a great indicator, and last year’s struggles can still be attributed to Manning’s nagging injuries.
In fact, in training camp this year, Manning impressed many with his athleticism. At one point, the 39-year-old Manning even picked up a first down in a scrimmage on a long scamper, which CBS Sports noted had heads turning at practice.
Demaryius Thomas noted at the time that Manning looks to be nowhere near retirement.
“He’s smiling. I feel like he’s good. I don’t know with the arm strength because I know I haven’t caught a lot. I don’t know if you all are going to believe what I say, but I think it’s a little more zip on it,” Thomas said. “I don’t know how he can do that. He’s an older guy—one of the oldest guys on the team—but I feel like every year around this time, there’s almost more zip on his ball. You can notice it. He threw a couple posts today, probably 50, 60 yards, and I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ It’s making me excited.”
The rumors that the Denver Broncos could be preparing for life after Peyton Manning date back to last season, when reports circulated that he could be leaving. Manning was reportedly considering retirement before ultimately deciding to come back under new coach Gary Kubiak.
There is one way that Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos can put an end to the rumors, however — just keep winning. If Manning keeps them in the division lead, even with some ugly performances, the team will likely him at the helm.
[Image via Getty Images]