View Full Version : NFL.com: Can Manning regain his zip?

Gutless Drunk
03-27-2012, 02:32 PM

"The next chapter in the Peyton Manning story comes in April, when he reports for the Denver Broncos' offseason program and acclimates himself to new environs for the first time since the 1990s.

The next question is which Peyton Manning will show up there?

Will it be the Manning of 2007? That might be tough to expect, given that the future Hall of Famer is now 36. And especially because the idea of Manning losing arm strength isn't a new one.

Even before the four neck procedures were done and the nerve regeneration was necessary, some scouts noticed a difference in the then-Colts quarterback. His numbers didn't tail off much in 2010, particularly when you consider the injuries that Indy suffered on offense, but there were subtle hints caught on tape that revised the book on Manning.

"The fall-off was significant on film," said one scout from a rival AFC team. "He showed stiffness and lost athletic traits. What made him special was never his athletic ability or movement skills, but you could see it with his arm strength, too."

The Broncos are aware that Manning isn't out of the woods. Manning is, too. His progress in the nerve regeneration has been substantial over the past two months, and that's given the Broncos and Manning confidence he'll continue to improve.

A comparable case is that of Chris Weinke, who went through the same type of nerve damage and regeneration while he was in his mid-20s at Florida State. Weinke told me he actually came back improved.

"You focus on the little muscles," he said. "You rebuild yourself really from ground zero, because of the atrophy, and when I came back, fundamentally I was better, I was stronger, and actually threw the ball with more velocity after the surgery than I did prior."

The difference, of course, is that Manning is 36. The good news is the loss of some arm strength in 2010 could've been related to the neck injury he addressed, so the opportunity to return better, like Weinke did, is there.

"We break the field into 'short', 'intermediate' and 'deep', and on patterns deep and outside the numbers, you'd notice more air under the ball," the AFC scout said. "There'd be more arc. Some it's by design, placing the ball where it needs to be. But it looked like his velocity was tailing off at the end of 2010. That's probably what he's most worried about.

"His rotation was fine, his accuracy was fine. But as far as the ball getting from Point A to Point B, and how much time he was giving defensive backs to drive on the football, there was enough there for concern."

It's important to remember that Manning was able to allay the concerns of several teams to the point where he commanded a $19.2 million-per-year deal and the kind of fervor for his services that's seldom seen. John Elway said he only felt comfortable endorsing the signing to owner Pat Bowlen after a) gauging Manning's confidence, and b) spending two-and-a-half hours going over the medical factors with the team's doctors and trainers while flying back from Durham, N.C. It's a fair bet that the other interested teams were similarly sold.

"I can tell you, seeing some of the footage of him throwing, there was depreciation in velocity and zip," said one executive from a team that pursued Manning. "It gets there, but there's some natural descent in how he's throwing. Is it still good enough? Yeah. It's not what it used to be, but he'll keep getting better, and it's only natural that it might not be where it was. He's 36. But with his ball placement, his location, his timing, his anticipation -- which is outstanding, right place, right time, every time -- he'll be fine."

And if the velocity issue is still there in the fall? "There'll be an adjustment," he said. "When you're trying to squeeze it in that tight hole, you have to understand if you still have that ability. And if you don't have the ability to make some of those throws, you have to ask 'How aggressive can I be?' You have to be more selectively aggressive."

This story still has plenty of time to play out. The offseason program doesn't start until April 16, and the coaches can't supervise field drills for over a month. After that, Manning will have OTAs, a minicamp and a full training camp to keep building himself back to full strength.

Will he get there? Will he be able to adapt and adjust if he doesn't?

Knowing the player, his drive and talent, the easy answer is yes. Knowing the history, though, some caution is warranted."

03-27-2012, 02:35 PM
I can only hope he's as good as Chris Weinke, after his surgery.

03-27-2012, 02:37 PM
Whoever wrote that is clearly a Tebowite. I mean, come on.....you just can't criticize ANYTHING to do with Manning without being one, right?


Broncos dude
03-27-2012, 02:38 PM
If all else fails we Calob Henne

03-27-2012, 02:39 PM
Manning excels at reading the D pre snap and making the right decision with placing the ball. He isnt' a sit back and fit balls into tight windows type of QB.

03-27-2012, 02:39 PM
No kidding. Weinke was a problem for Saints training camp because people would bring shotguns and shoot his passes to prepare for duck season.

03-27-2012, 03:03 PM
Thankfully we have a quality backup just in case Plan A doesn't quite go as planned.

Cito Pelon
03-27-2012, 03:06 PM
The arm strength is a legit concern. Manning never had a super-strong arm to begin with, never was a velocity kind of thrower, it was always anticipation and precision.

So if there is even a little bit of loss of velocity, that's not so good.

03-27-2012, 03:07 PM
Brilliant article! Ha!

They could have shortened it a bit to state the obvious. "Manning will not have as much zip because he hasn't played for a year, and he is getting older and will lose some strength. But if he works out hard, he'll improve, and probably be close to where he was before. Caution is needed.


Mountain Bronco
03-27-2012, 03:38 PM
I love how the negative quotes are from 1. Rival AFC team and 2. team that pursued Manning, but didn't land him.

Also, nothing that everyone in the world didn't know a month ago and that Peyton has been saying from day 1.

03-27-2012, 03:42 PM
Manning will have less arm strength.

I'm not even a little worried about this.

03-27-2012, 03:44 PM
Manning will have less arm strength.

I'm not even a little worried about this.

Actions speak louder than words.

3 teams watched him workout and throw. None of them dropped out of the derby.

03-27-2012, 03:59 PM
Actions speak louder than words.

3 teams watched him workout and throw. None of them dropped out of the derby.

Yeah he declined other teams. Not a single team that we are aware of passed on him due to medical reasons. Even this "opponent scout" is nitpicking to say sometimes there was too much air on his throws. That was all pre-surgery.

Cito Pelon
03-27-2012, 04:07 PM
Manning will have less arm strength.

I'm not even a little worried about this.

Why aren't you worried? Seems like a worry to me.

03-27-2012, 04:13 PM
I am going through another round of PT and can that I have seen a lot of improvement now considering my right arm looks like a twig and my right shoulder blade is winging out of my back.

With the shape Manning was in pre nerve damage and the fact that he likely has a team of therapists on him every day I could see them keeping the atrophy at bay or strengthening it if the nerve is regenerating. I just want to see him play in a game and get past week 6 with no set backs and then I will feel better about us going after him.

03-27-2012, 04:20 PM
Elway's drop off from 1995 to 1997 was probably even more significant than Manning's. He'll still be great, but Denver will have to put great players withhim if they want another ring.

03-27-2012, 04:27 PM

Pony Boy
03-27-2012, 04:37 PM
The arm strength is a legit concern. Manning never had a super-strong arm to begin with, never was a velocity kind of thrower, it was always anticipation and precision.

So if there is even a little bit of loss of velocity, that's not so good.


03-27-2012, 04:52 PM
So some "scouts" say he's lost zip and velocity based from his play in 2010 when his neck was bothering him, but maybe it was him placing the ball, and maybe he gets that zip back after his rehab is complete or it could just be because he's getting older.

That's some scouting report.

Cito Pelon
03-27-2012, 04:55 PM

Rub some dirt on it, or some alien dust, maybe some unicorn jizz, then the clock will be turned back.

Smilin Assassin
03-27-2012, 05:25 PM



03-28-2012, 06:38 AM
I decided to look at the tape myself. I first went back to the tape of Manning's play in Super Bowl 44, in which he went 31 of 45 for 333 yards passing and used that as my baseline for comparison. I would classify Manning's velocity in that game as NFL average. Next, I compared it with Manning's last game of 2010, in which the Colts faced the Tennessee Titans. If Manning had lost velocity, it would have become readily apparent by Week 17.

The Titans tried to play Manning in either a Cover 2/Zone Under or a Cover 2/Man Under scheme most of the day. The strength of the Cover 2 (and why it's so popular) is that it takes away big plays and forces the offense to methodically drive down the field. It is susceptible to the deep outside of the field, however, if the quarterback can fit the ball into the compressed windows between the cornerback and the safety coming over the top. It's also weak against a variety of route combinations, like the high/low against the weakside corner or clear/dig routes against the linebackers.

This is exactly how Manning attacked the Titans that day. He got particular use out of his quick game--slant combinations, speed outs to the running backs after the cornerback had been cleared, and a variety of high/low read combinations where he went to the low read. More importantly, he also stuck four intermediate/deep outs in the range of 13-20 yards, which are the gold standard by which a quarterback's arm strength is judged. He even threw a nice 30-yard touchdown in the game with velocity--in fact, with more velocity than Kerry Collins, his counterpart in the game, had shown (this may or may not be saying much, depending on your view of Collins's arm). He was typically Manning--changing plays at the line of scrimmage, isolating his mismatches, and limiting the Titans' ability to substitute on defense. On one particular play of note, he connected with new Broncos tight end, Jacob Tamme, up the seam after seeing the linebacker out of position (the linebacker had made the mistake of biting on a play fake). His timing, ball placement, and location were never better.

Of Manning's forty-one throws, his velocity was poor on four of them. Interestingly enough, they were all throws of fifteen yards or more; further, all four of the poor throws were to the right. I found this even more peculiar given John Elway's mention of it in today's DP article. Still, I wasn't overly concerned. If Manning had truly lost velocity, one would have expected the number of poor throws to be greater.

Perhaps age and injury will tell a different tale. And with a year off, it's impossible to know how much velocity he'll lose--if any. But the idea that his velocity was slipping noticeably in 2010--before the injury--seems a little far-fetched.

I recommend reading the whole thing including the comments.