The decision made by Peyton Manning to take his talents to the Mile High City was met with excitement (by Bronco fans) and either approval or perplexity by the rest of NFL fans. On the surface, several other teams seemed like more logical fits – Miami, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee – but in the end, Manning went with Denver. Here are the reasons this was the perfect fit:
Since Manning has become an elite player, the trademark of his coaches has been their calm, passive natures. When it came to sideline demeanor, Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell, his coaches in Indianapolis, flirted with the line between looking stoic and looking bored. John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy will cede offensive control to Manning… something that bullheaded Niner coach Jim Harbaugh would never do. (The guy can’t even perform a postgame handshake without being a jerk). San Francisco would’ve never worked, from a personality standpoint.
2. Offensive Line
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Denver features one of the best offensive lines in football, starting with stud left tackle Ryan Clady to protect Manning’s backside. In addition to the Arizona Cardinals’ salary cap issues, which would cut into their ability to surround Manning with talent in the coming years, their offensive line is also a bit of a mess.
3. Skill position players
The running game in Denver ranked first in the NFL last season, a result of necessity rather than choice. It’s fair to question if Willis McGahee has anything left, but Knowshon Moreno is a talented back who has yet to put it all together. As far as the passing game goes, it’s hard to tell how good Demariyus Thomas and Eric Decker were last season – considering they had Tim Tebow throwing them bounce passes half the time. As far as measurable attributes are concerned, those two are off the charts – and should take massive steps forward with Manning at the helm.
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Denver’s defense wasn’t as highly rated as people seem to think it was in 2011, but they are a young group that is trending upward. They ought to improve greatly under new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. The important pieces (Von Miller, Robert Ayers, Elvis Dumervil) are still relatively young. While the defense in Tennessee was solid (if unspectacular) in 2011, it doesn’t have the all-around talent that this group does.
5. The conference and the division are more winnable
Manning’s aversion to playing in the NFC, where a possible playoff battle with his brother exists, not only makes good personal sense for him, but is also good business sense. Four of the top five or six Super Bowl contenders reside in the NFC (in no particular order – Green Bay, Detroit, San Francisco, New York Giants). The path to the Super Bowl is much easier in the AFC – and that’s Manning’s only concern at this point. From a divisional standpoint, Miami was never a real option because the division is so stacked (New England, the Jets, and the up and coming Buffalo Bills). That left the AFC West, a division which has been mediocre for years. Manning was never going to be a Raider or Chief and the Chargers have Philip Rivers. The Broncos were the logical fit for Manning in that division – and in the NFL. Both personally and professionally, Manning to the Denver Broncos was a match made in Mile High heaven.
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