Peyton Manning is a living legend, an NFL immortal and one of the best Quarterbacks to ever play the game. But despite the Denver Broncos starting the new season at 5-0, a seasoned eye would know all too well that their 39 year-old general has had very little to do with it. Why? Just ask the defence.
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has been spoilt rotten with one of the most talented secondaries in the league. While Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Manning have struggled (at times) to compromise on decisions regarding offence philosophy, the well-oiled defensive side has continued to improve with every coming game.
With just over a quarter of the regular season gone, Denver currently leads the league in pass-rushing with an emphatic 22 sacks. The likes of DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan have been wrecking balls across the line of scrimmage and have come up clutch without fail. Additionally, in terms of stopping the pass, the Broncos defensive backs have been formidable in their coverage as well. With seven interceptions and three recovered touchdowns via the likes of Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., these feats have contributed to over 30% of Denver’s point-scoring this season.
In truth, while various broadcasts may do their absolute best to praise Manning’s ability in the pocket, he has had a rough time thus far. The Broncos’ Week 1 win over the Ravens (13-19) and Week 5 victory over the Raiders (16-10) in particular have shown worrying signs that, had the team lost, would have been front-page news. In both those games alone Manning failed to register a single Touch Down pass; astonishing by his standards. The Super Bowl XLI Champion MVP has been sacked a ridiculous 12 times this season and only managed to find the in-zone on six occasions.
What a difference a year can make. This time last season Manning was blowing opposing defences away with impressively high completions. This season, interceptions are being thrown at will. Nevertheless while Manning and his form under Centre remains a cause for concern, Denver’s defence are on a rampage heading into November and it's been great to watch. The Broncos currently lead the AFC West by a comfortable stretch and, should the offence meet the unmatchable feats of their defence, they'll be tough to beat.