In his season debut, Peyton Manning looked like his old self.
The quarterback’s 253-yard, two touchdown performance against the Steelers helped the Broncos start the year with a win. It looked as if Denver could become one of the main contenders to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Just two weeks later, people are questioning whether or not Manning has lost his touch. Is Manning no longer a top NFL quarterback?
For the second straight game, Manning was unable to lead his team to victory. The Broncos fell to the Texans at home, 31-25. While the veteran threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns, he didn’t play as well as those numbers might indicate.
Manning threw for a season-high in yards, but it took him 52 throws to reach 330. He only completed 50 percent of his passes, a very low number for quarterbacks in 2012.
He didn’t throw any interceptions, but Manning was very fortunate to end the contest with no picks. Texan defenders had multiple opportunities to force turnovers, but were unable to hold on to the ball.
Manning’s performance would not be so alarming if it weren’t for his performance in Week 2. His three interceptions against the Falcons on “Monday Night Football” left many concerned about how much he has left in the tank.
The biggest issue that Manning faces seems to be his arm strength. His interceptions have been a result of underthrowing his receivers, and the quarterback has always been able to throw the ball deep down the field.
Some scouts have noticed the change in Manning’s game. One told the NFL Network’s Albert Breer that he’s a completely different player from the one in Indianapolis.
"Peyton Manning can't throw the ball anymore," said the scout. That could be an overreaction to two bad games, but Manning certainly hasn’t looked good after a strong debut.
Countless NFL quarterbacks have shown that it doesn’t take tremendous arm strength to be successful. Drew Brees is known for having one of the weaker arms in the league, but he set the record for passing yards in a single season in 2011. However, the change in Manning’s game seems to have affected his play.
Without a very strong arm, the veteran has been less accurate this year. Through three games, Manning has his worst completion percentage since his rookie season.
The Broncos don’t have many weapons on offense. Brandon Stokley is the only player on their roster to ever record more than 700 receiving yards in a season, and that happened eight years ago. Manning doesn’t have the receivers that can make up for a lack of arm strength.
Denver was expected to be one of the better teams in the AFC, mostly because of the acquisition of Manning. Adding a top flight quarterback, to what was a strong defensive unit last year, made the Broncos the favorites to win the AFC West.
Now, the Broncos are 1-2 with the second-toughest schedule in the NFL. If these past two games don’t prove to be a fluke for Manning, Denver could be in for a long season.