Peyton Manning may now be a wild Bronco in Denver, but he once was just a young Colt in Indianapolis. After neck surgery caused him to miss the 2011 season the Indianapolis Colts decided to move on with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck in his place. As a result the Denver Broncos came calling and have used Manning to become an offensive juggernaut.
On Sunday night Peyton will return to Indianapolis for a showdown with his former club.
On paper one would think the 6-0 Broncos will roll over a 4-2 Colts team that just dropped a Monday Night Football appearance to the far from elite San Diego Chargers (as I predicted they would.)
Denver is off to an unprecedented start offensively, and Peyton Manning is throwing touchdowns at a pace the NFL has never seen before. 22 touchdown throws in six games sets the record for scoring via the air through this point of a season, and the offense really has shown no signs of slowing down. Manning easily could have had three more scores on Sunday, but running back Knowshon Moreno crossed the goal line himself three times in the red zone.
Indianapolis on the other hand has seen a solid year from Andrew Luck, who probably would be in the MVP conversation if Peyton had not already ran away with the award. Luck may not have the gaudy stats of Manning, but he does have 1,346 yards and 7 scores through the air himself. Not bad for a guy in his second year.
According to Colts owner Jim Isray however, the decision to let Peyton go was part of the team’s new business model. Despite loving the “Star Wars numbers” that Manning put up during his time in Indianapolis, and clearly has been doing so far with Denver, he has just one Super Bowl ring to his name. That comes despite making the playoffs 11 times as a Colt and last year as a Bronco. Seven times he has lost in the first round of the playoffs.
“[Tom] Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these,” Irsay told Jarrett Bell of the USA TODAY as he flashed his 2006 Super Bowl ring. “Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated. You make the playoffs 11 times, and you’re out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin [Harrison] and Reggie [Wayne]. Mostly, you love [the ring].”
The decision to rebuild with Andrew Luck is one that both of these franchises have to be thankful for. Indianapolis went just 2-14 in 2011 with Manning injured, and turned it around to 11-5 with Luck as a rookie. Denver has bounced back from a time when they thought Tim Tebow was a viable starting quarterback, and now has the best offense in the NFL to show for it.
On Sunday we will have a spirited contest between two franchises headed in the right directions because of a decision by Isray to move on from his franchise quarterback. Regardless of who wins Mannings return to Indy, both the Colts and the future Hall of Fame quarterback have already won this breakup.
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express