After missing all of last year due to injury, Manning hasn’t looked the same while suiting up in Denver. None was more evident than his three-interception performance against Matt Ryan and the Falcons on Monday night.
You have to go back to December of 2010 for the last time Manning threw three picks, also in a loss against the Cowboys. The last time he threw three interceptions in the first quarter? Go back even further to 2007 against the Chargers.
Because of how weak the AFC West is, it’s still likely that the Broncos will reach the playoffs, either winning the division or via the wild card. But it doesn’t look like it will be the same Manning who leads his team into the postseason.
Against the Falcons on Monday night, Manning had one of, if not the worst, quarter of his life. The three picks featured him locking into receivers far too early and trying to force passes. This is not the Manning we are accustomed to seeing. His happy feet in the pocket don’t let him get the most use out of his arm, and it resulted in several bad throws throughout the rest of the game.
Yes, he did settle down after the first horrendous 15 minutes, but it was too little, too late. The Broncos fell to 1-1, and Manning looks uneasy.
Is it a change of scenery that’s caused Manning to feel uncomfortable? Is it the new(ish) offensive system that after being out of football for a year is giving him problems? Whatever it is, the Broncos need to figure it out, and fast.
Their investment was on the Manning of old. Now it looks like its on an old Manning.
Arm strength is down, interceptions are up, and throws that Manning made in Indy aren’t finding the hands of his receivers. Expect to see more picks to come this weekend, as Manning and the Broncos take on Houston in Week 3. A rough season could see the beginning of the end for one of football’s best passers. Whether it’s the air up there or the neck, or something else, Manning doesn’t look the same.