Sitting on his sofa with his remote control in hand, one can only imagine what Archie Manning was thinking to himself on Sunday. On the one hand, Peyton Manning looks cooked. On the other, Eli is having trouble managing the clock, keeping track of timeouts and calculating the score.
And then there were the commercials.
Nationwide, so to speak.
Pey-ton you are all washed up.
And don’t be like this Eli. Because he can’t count.
Yowza. Talk about a tough week for Big Daddy (or should we call him Papa Bear – hut, hut!) and his precious cubs. One looked like a broken chair. (One good arm.) The other looked like the extension of a coaching staff consisting of Moe, Larry and Curly. And then, as if the football weren’t bad enough, Eli did an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN – listen here – that somehow made him seem even more clueless than he already was.
As for Peyton, his point of view went something like this:
“Everybody is looking for these summaries of our offense and our team after Week 1 and I just don’t think we’re going to be able to do that,” Manning told the Denver Post. “It’s Week 1. We’re a work in progress. If you need a catchy headline for your little article or whatever it is you might be doing, we’re trying to get better every single week. What’s another cliché I can think of? We’re chipping away. Something along those lines.”
Wow. Condescending much? If you need a catchy headline for your little article or whatever it is you might be doing…
Actually, we don’t need anything. We’re just asking. Our eyes told us most everything we needed to know on Sunday. Of the 40 passes Peyton threw on Sunday, 33 were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Of the remaining seven, he completed three, none beyond 20 yards. (He was 0-for-4 on those throws.) And before anyone suggests that longer throws have always been lower percentage – which is true – know this:
Peyton wasn’t good on the short throws, either. On passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage, he was 2-for-5 for a rating of 47.9. On passes thrown within yards of the line of scrimmage, he had a rating of 68.2. (Overall, his rating was 59.9.) Take a good look at some of those completions. Even on the shorter passes, Denver receivers look like the ball simply can’t get there fast enough…because it can’t.
Does this mean the Broncos are done? Not necessarily. Denver has a killer defense (if it can stay healthy) and cornerback Aqib Talib noted that the club has a good defensive coordinator, which seems as much a shot at Jack Del Rio (now the head coach in Oakland) as much as a warm hug for Wade Phillips. Peyton still has a healthy computer for a brain – along with the latest processor – and the Broncos team might actually be more equipped to win in January than it was before.
But here’s the scary part: if Manning’s arm looks like this now, what’s it going to look like then?
Look, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. If the Broncos play defense like this all year, they are a threat in a terribly flawed AFC. But they’re not winning the Super Bowl with Chad Pennington at quarterback.
In the interim, Peyton is within about 2,000 yards of the all-time yardage record. Yippee. With his current arm strength, he might need 2,000 throws to get it.
As for Eli, well, we have to start to wonder how he ever won two Super Bowls. After Sunday’s late-game debacle in Denver, Eli is now 91-77 in his career with a career completion percentage of precisely 59.0. In an era where passing has never been easier, Eli’s career passer rating is 82.3. Since Eli came into the league in 2004, no other quarterback in the NFL has thrown as many interceptions (185). And it isn’t even close.
Certainly, there is a school of thought out there that Eli and Giants coach Tom Coughlin took turns falling on the sword on Sunday night in Dallas to protect offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who has been curiously invisible in the wake of the Texas calamity. Coughlin and Eli can’t be that clueless, can they? They won two Super Bowls, for goodness sake. They beat the Patriots both times. And now, suddenly, the Giants can’t remember how many timeouts the Cowboys had, can’t distinguish between a lead that requires one score or two, and, just importantly, can’t seem to explain themselves when the time comes.
Settle in with your DIRECTV, Archie. Buy some insurance. More importantly, have a few beers.
It could be a long year.
Tony Massarotti is an avid Boston sports fan and has covered sports in Boston for more than 15 years for both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe. He now serves as a co-host on afternoon drive on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. He was a two-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year as voted by his peers and has written four books, including “Big Papi,” the New York Times-bestselling memoirs of David Ortiz. You can follow Tony @tonymassarotti.