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Manning needs to ‘let go and let the running game’

John Reidy | December 1, 2014

The inability to run the ball lets defenses know exactly what you’re going to do next. It’s football 101 and is as obvious as a 6’4” man in a dress with an adam’s apple the size of a kiwi.” 

There’s an old saying that goes “Let go and let God.” And whether you believe in God or not, the saying still rings true: sometimes you have to let things happened organically and allow the universe – or some benevolent creator – do what it will. We can’t always control what happens to us, but forcing the issue generally results in outcomes we’re not happy with. And Peyton Manning, of your Denver Broncos, needs to heed that advice before it’s too late.

All of the greats needed help. Batman needed Robin, Han needed Chewie. And for our purposes here, Elway needed Davis. Of course Elway also had Sharpe, McCaffrey and Smith but throwing the ball, like Manning, was never a problem for the Duke of Denver. But running the ball was, and the same big game struggles for Elway are happening to Peyton Manning.

The inability to run the ball lets defenses know exactly what you’re going to do next. It’s football 101 and is as obvious as a 6’4” man in a dress with an adam’s apple the size of a kiwi. But with a deadly combination of not being able to run the ball and a reliance on a great quarterback whose skills may be declining before our eyes – don’t forget a coaching staff that won’t/can’t change the game plan – and you’ve got a recipe for season ending disaster.

A common theme that started with the Super Bowl has been opposing defenses knowing “what was coming next.” We’ve heard it a couple of times this season already, so think about what this means: the Broncos offense is so predictable, defenses know exactly what is coming and can sniff it out as the ball is snapped. This is great against the Raiders and the Jaguars who can’t stop it even when it’s being telegraphed, but this doesn’t work against the top units in the league.

Manning has been the ambassador of the grand passing game for so long he’s forgotten (or never knew) what a balanced attack is. Add in a coaching staff that can’t coach their way out of game of Madden with a seven year old, and you’ve got a big gridiron problem on your hands. It’s baffling that the Broncos coaches hadn’t realized this up till this point and tried to change it in the slightest in earlier weeks, but when you can’t run the ball and throwing it on every down is your only option, you get stuck in a nasty rut. One that teams like the Patriots will gladly let the Broncos drive themselves into.

Montee Ball was supposed to have elevated the Broncos running game and allow the offense to be a little more than the one dimensional, American horror story we’ve seen most of the season. But he was as effective as an US politician and the Broncos quickly reverted back to Peyton’s Plan: throwing it all over the yard even when it was not working.

And Manning probably liked that plan even though it wasn’t working. He wants the ball in his hand and he wants to be the guy throwing the record breaking and game winning touchdowns. You can’t blame him but like anyone getting old and not realizing their abilities are fading, they want to do it themselves even if it’s the worst idea on the planet. It’s like my 77 year old dad getting on a ladder, but with worse results.

Enter CJ Anderson, who after being left for dead in his bid to take control of the Broncos backfield, took it over for good in week 13 – we hope. And despite the brilliant Jeff Legwold telling people Anderson would be cut earlier in the season, he gashed the Dolphins for 167 yards in week 12 and the Chiefs for 168 this past Sunday. Where Montee Ball couldn’t impose his will on anyone, Anderson is now putting a little fear into defenses and nearly 200 all-purpose yards a week since taking over the job. And because of that, Manning is now free to do what he does best.

Manning may not like it because he’s not the only star of the show anymore, but this is how he’ll further cement his legend. He’s got all the records, but whether he knows it or not, his legacy will be forever linked with not being able to win when it matters. Ok, ok. He has won a Super Bowl but that was against a Rex Grossman led Bears team and unfortunately for Manning, people only remember the spectacular flame outs and not that one championship. He needs to do it one more time or he will remain “Marino-esque” in the eyes of most NFL fans.

The difference between Elway and Manning is that Elway knew he was the man but wasn’t opposed to someone else helping him get to where he wanted late in his career. It is a team game after all and insisting on doing it yourself while your window is slowly closing shut, like an old man insisting on climbing a ladder, seems like outrageous ego maniacal bullshit. Manning needs to look in the mirror and realize he’s not going to do this with his arm alone, embrace the run, and let someone else have a little of the glory and win a big game as a team for once.

Winning another Super Bowl will elevate Peyton even further in the minds of sports fans. But he won’t get there unless he not only takes his boss as an example, but lets the team Elway assembled do its thing. It may be hard for someone of Manning’s stature and ability to absorb, but Peyton needs to do the age old “Let Go and Let God.” Or in this case, in more ways than one, he needs to “Let Go and Let The Running Game.” It worked for Elway and it will work for him.

Written by John Reidy

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