With a 24-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, Peyton Manning’s 17th season as a professional football player came to an end. The best quarterback in NFL history turns 39 in March, so obviously the big question on everyone’s mind is whether or not he will return for more in 2015.
No one thought Manning had any intention of retiring at the end of the 2014 season, but then it was revealed that he had been playing on a torn right quad for the final month (or more) of the season. Can Peyton's body hold-up for one last run at a 2nd Superbowl Championship?
Peyton said that his decision would be based mainly on coaching and personnel changes within the Denver Broncos franchise. Well, the team’s three major coaches are jumping ship: defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will be the Oakland Raiders newest head coach, offensive coordinator Adam Gase accepted the San Francisco 49ers heading coaching position, and even head coach John Fox is leaving to start over as the head coach of the Chicago Bears.
The Broncos did not waste anytime searching out the best available coaches. After all, if they want their best player and quarterback to return, they will need a coaching staff that he is confident will be able to help him win a Super Bowl in what will likely be his final season. The Broncos hired two great coaches and former Houston Texans coaching standouts: head coach Gary Kubiak and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Great coaches, great hires.
The hiring of Kubiak was questioned at first because he is well known for running a roll-out, mobile quarterback style of offense. Peyton Manning is not a mobile quarterback. However, Kubiak was quick to ease the minds of the Broncos faithful when he announced that he would be running Peyton’s offense, not Kubiak’s offense.
So Peyton is coming back then, right?
As of now, it looks like Peyton will be returning for the 2015 NFL season. Kubiak has made it his personal mission to assure Peyton that coming back for one final season with the Broncos would be a smart move. Obviously Kubiak would love a chance to coach the greatest player in NFL history, but more importantly the Broncos have no real back-up plan.
Broncos General Manager John Elway has done a great job bringing big-time free agents to Denver. However, he seems to have forgotten about one thing—planning for the future. Elway really does not have a backup plan for 2016 after Peyton has retired.
Is Osweiler a Long-Term Answer?
The Broncos current backup quarterback is Brock Osweiler, a 2nd round 2012 draft selection out of Arizona State University. Maybe it isn’t fair to compare a young quarterback like Osweiler to the best of all time, but he has shown no potential as far as leading the Broncos goes.
Manning misses very little game time, but the time that Osweiler has had in-game has not been pretty. The only playing time that Osweiler got which was not at the very end of the game in a blowout came on December 14th against the San Diego Chargers. Manning, who had been fighting the flu all day, led the team down the field for a touchdown right before halftime; he left the field earlier to get fluids.
The Chargers went three and out, so Osweiler had a chance to show the world his stuff. To make a long story short, the Broncos went three-and-out, leaving so much time on the clock that the Chargers were actually able to score. One first down would have ended the half, but Osweiler was unable to complete a single pass.
Peyton or Bust
In my opinion, Osweiler is not ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Sure, the team will say he’s ready, and they’ll have his back when he is the starter in Denver, but if the Broncos want any chance at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of Super Bowl 50 they will need Peyton Manning under center come August.
Do you think Manning has one more stellar season left in the tank? Tell me about it in the comments below.