It’s Thanksgiving Day, and in preparation for a day of food and football, let’s take some time to recognize a few people around the AFC West that have something to be thankful for this time of year.
Peyton Manning – Manning has medical technology to be thankful for. There were plenty of skeptics coming into the season as to whether or not Manning could be the same guy he was before undergoing multiple neck surgeries and missing an entire season, but Manning has proven that he is still an elite quarterback and an MVP candidate. If anything, Manning is even more mobile – well, maybe not mobile, but let’s say more nimble – in the pocket than he has been in previous years, which has helped him receive the fewest number of hits of any starting quarterback.
Before the season, many thought Manning would need at least a year to get settled in Denver before the Broncos were legitimate Super Bowl contenders; not only are the Broncos just that in Manning’s first year, but Manning still looks like a guy with a lot of good years left, which should make the Broncos competitive for years to come. Apparently, all those surgeries worked, which Manning should be thankful for because he’s back to playing like the Peyton Manning of old.
John Elway – Elway has the aforementioned Peyton Manning to be thankful for. Before the Colts released Manning, Elway was looking down the barrel of another season with Tim Tebow as his team’s quarterback. Much to Elway’s delight Manning chose to take his talents to Denver, and even more to Elway’s delight Manning has come to Denver fully healthy and then some. As a result, the Broncos are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and are quickly becoming one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl in the AFC. Elway now looks like a genius for finding a way to ditch Tebow and bring in a hall of fame quarterback, and for that he has Manning to thank.
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Norv Turner – Turner should be thankful that he still has a job. It would have been a very easy, as well as a very popular, choice for the Chargers to fire Turner during their bye in week 7, which was right after the team’s Monday night debacle against the Broncos when they blew a 24-0 halftime lead. When you think about it, Turner’s lucky he had a job at the start of this season. San Diego would have been wise to fire him after last season when the Chargers finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs in the pitiful AFC West, despite being the only team in the division with a legitimate NFL quarterback. Last year was the second straight season that the Chargers missed the playoffs and two straight years being left out of the playoffs should have been enough to fire him, which is why Turner should be thankful that, at least for the time being, he still has a job.
Brady Quinn – Quinn is thankful because he’s going to get another chance to be a starting quarterback, presumably for the rest of the season. He started his career in Cleveland, where no one has a chance to succeed, even with a fair shot, which you could argue Quinn didn’t get. Quinn spent the next two years walking the sidelines in Denver watching Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow play, while never getting a chance to step on the field for the Broncos. He started briefly earlier this season for the Chiefs, but was then forced to sit out for a few weeks because of a concussion. He has since recovered and relieved Matt Cassel in the second half of last week’s loss to the Bengals. Cassel has just about run out of chances, which means the wise move would be to hand things over to Quinn for the rest of the season. Even though it would be with arguably the worst team in the NFL, it would finally give Quinn the chance to be a starter and show that he deserves to be an NFL starting quarterback going forward, whether it’s with the Chiefs or another team. So, for the opportunity he’s about to get, Quinn should be thankful.