For the 2013 season, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will enter his 16th season as a spry 37-year-old. He is in his second year with Denver and after last year’s finish, expectations are high for this team to make a Super Bowl run this year.
In his Broncos rookie season, Manning had 4,659 passing yards and 37 touchdowns. His 68.7 passing completion rate was his second-highest one and you can’t help but wonder if 2013’s numbers will be even better with another year removed from his neck surgery and his greater familiarity with his team.
One question to ask is, how is Manning feeling as he enters year No. 2 with the Broncos? He said this spring via CBS Sports, “How I feel is between me and “The Greek” (Broncos trainer Steve Antonopulos). I feel much more comfortable than I was last year. I am stronger than I was last year. I am throwing the ball better now in May of 2013 than I did in May of 2012 — significantly better. I got better throughout the season. I am not doing the monthly update reports anymore. I am past that.”
But at his age, you can’t help but ask how many years he has left.
History is on his side
At 37, Manning is the record holder for quarterbacks 36 and older with his highest completion percentage and most touchdown passes in a season. He almost had the passing yards record but fell short by 31 yards.
With his 4,659 passing yards in 2012, he joins only four additional quarterbacks who have passed for 4,000 yards or more at the age of 36 or higher. This included Steve Young, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Rich Gannon.
As for who’s the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, the answer–interestingly–is the Broncos John Elway. He won two consecutive one in 1997-98 at 37 and 38 years old, respectively. Last year’s winner, Joe Flacco, was 28-years-old.
No wonder Elway has so much confidence in his quarterback. He’s been there, done that.
A look at Manning’s production since 2005 has showed it was almost flat and after 2012’s numbers, he reversed what appeared as a slight decline in production.
One thing to point out is that Manning’s interception percentage has trended in the opposite direction as compared to his other numbers last season while his sack percentage has trended the same way as his other production–something last seen in 2008.
Can you say Manning has a better offensive line in Denver?
What about playing until age 40?
O.k. so history could be on Manning’s side but this spring the question had been posed by CBS Sports on whether or not the quarterback would play until he’s 40.
In a very long response, Manning said, “I really don’t know. I take it one year at a time. My contract is really four one-year deals. I wanted to be fair to the Broncos. I don’t feel like I’ve put them in any type of a bind and I could go out there and play freely. If I can still go out there and perform and be effective, and still enjoy doing it, I will do it. I would like to think I will be a guy who knows when it’s time to stop. I don’t want to be a guy who hung on and hung on. I do not have a goal in mind of a year or a statistic. People might think I am lying, staying to break this. The most important thing is whether I can still play. The biggest thing for me last year was that I wanted to be the player the team thinks it is getting. That was an incredibly driving factor for me.”
So far, 2013 looks good
Manning appears off to a good start as he enters the regular season. From the first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, Manning only threw four passes. He had two completions for 13 yards.
As compared to last season, the quarterback recently said, “I do feel better and I think it’s because I have better familiarity with my receivers. When you know how Eric Decker is going to come out of a route or how Demaryius Thomas is going to come out of a break, you should throw the ball with a little more confidence which, hopefully in turn, should have a little more heat on the ball, getting there sooner.”
Look for vintage Manning this season but whether there’s a year No. 17 remains to be seen. Somehow I don’t see this as the quarterback’s last season. But he also won’t likely stick around too long like Favre, switching teams to keep his career alive.