Deep Dive: Let’s Discuss Manning

There is a lot of criticism surrounding Peyton Manning and his “inability to throw.” Even more frustrating is the amount of fans crying to play Brock Osweiler and benching Manning. This won’t happen. But, is the criticism earned? Let’s dig deeper.

The noodle arm:

Manning is getting old, that’s a given, and people want to tie his age to his arm strength. I did some analysis and reviewed various games in 2013, 2014, and so far this year. I reviewed at least 10 passes per game for each year and used a timer to find an average of 10 timings. My criteria was that each pass had to be at least 20 yards and no more than 35 yard. This is what I discovered after running some calculations:

  • In 2013, the average pass was thrown at 18.35 yd/s (37.53 mph)
  • In 2014, the average pass was thrown at 20.73 yd/s (40.4 mph)
  • This year, the average pass was thrown at 22.2 yd/s (45.4 mph)

You may get slightly different results if you repeat my steps above, but I still guarantee you’ll get a similar result. The averages show something interesting: He’s improved each season. While watching the games this year, it’s hard to ignore he’s throwing tight spirals in every play. For most of his career he’s thrown “ducks”  (his words).

Compare this:

or this

To this:

Sorry for the link; I couldn’t find a good gif from 2014.

Verdict: The noodle arm is not plausible.

Bad decisions:

The alternative (or additional) theory to his bad play is poor decision making. Let’s review some interceptions this year, since he has more of those than touchdowns.

This play looks like a combination of errors. Left tackle folded and Owen Daniels didn’t get to his spot on time as he was being held (legally, I believe). Although, someone looked available at the top of the screen. This could go either way, but had Manning had another second or two to throw then I doubt this would’ve been an interception. I blame the offensive line here.

Woodson just made a spectacular jump and catch here. I give the guy credit, but this wasn’t Manning’s fault. Demaryius Thomas could have jumped earlier to prevent this.

This was a decent throw by Manning. Bubba Caldwell didn’t cut enough, waiting for the pass, and Anthony Barr took advantage of his QB spying position and cut in front of Caldwell. Manning may have been able to prevent this by throwing further left, but Caldwell deserves a bit of the blame too.

Manning overthrew this one and there is no denying that.

A good pass, but a better play by Marcus Peters on this one. I think Manning can take some blame as he passed a little behind Demaryius Thomas.

Blocked pass. Not much you can do with that except having a better push on the offensive line.

I believe it was Jordan Norwood that this pass was intended for. He could’ve made this play, but Jimmy Smith just made a better play. It didn’t help that Manning was forced to pass this earlier than he wanted to.

Verdict: 50/50 – I think Manning is to blame for a few of these interceptions, but the offensive line is at a heavy fault here with a touch of poor decisions by our receivers. Overall, I would say it’s a team problem.

Update: I just want to mention that I was specifically focused on interceptions and passing speed, nothing more. We had two dropped passes in the redzone on Sunday’s game against the Raiders. These were not discussed in this article because I wanted to focus on decision-making leading up to them. Manning cannot be held accountable for other people’s actions. The purpose of this article was to either validate or invalidate the media’s perception of Manning and not the coaching scheme nor any other portion of the team.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you’d like me to go in to more deep dives, then please let me know in the comments. I would also like to think reddit user RunJun for capturing these spectacular webm videos.