|Posted on September 16, 2014 at 7:50 PM|
In 2013, Peyton Manning became the first player since Dan Marino in 1984—29 years earlier—to break both the single-season marks for passing yards and touchdown passes during the same season. While the masses blabbed, without any deep understanding of history, that "these records are broken all of the time", the reality is that there were 752 single-season opportunities amongst all of the league's teams collectively to break both records in the same season during that 29-year span—and only Manning in 2013 managed to accomplish this feat. Humbly, if not unrealistically, Manning predicted that Brady would break his touchdown record in 2014.
"I will enjoy it while it lasts. I'm such a fan of the game, a student of the history of the game. So obviously this is a big thing for me. But personally, I feel all these passing records are going to fall. [Tom] Brady will probably break this next year." -Peyton Manning
But what would it take for a quarterback to break Manning's records?
Manning (2013): 450 of 659 (68.3) for 5,477 yards, 55 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Manning averaged an astronomical 342.3 passing yards and 3.44 touchdown passes per-game—a level of production that would have been even higher had he not sat out the entire second half of the Broncos' December 29th, 2013 game vs. the Raiders. Then consider the fact that Manning was on-pace to throw for 6,029 yards and 64 touchdowns before suffering two ankle sprains early in the season, and you have the resumé of what some consider to be the greatest passing season in NFL history.
In 2014, officials have been instructed to place an increased emphasis upon illegal contact and defensive holding—opening up the passing game even further. Two weeks into the 2014 season however, no quarterback appears to be anywhere close to sniffing Manning's single-season passing records—especially Brady.
Brady has averaged an abysmal 199 passing yards and one passing touchdown per-game this year. He currently ranks 33rd in completion percentage while his 78.9 passer rating is the lowest of his career. To break Manning's records, Brady will need to average 378 passing yards and 3.86 touchdown passes per-game, every week, for 14 consecutive weeks. Aaron Rodgers would need to average 354 passing yards and 3.71 touchdown passes per-game, every week, for the remainder of the season.
It became trendy to dismiss the magnitude of Manning's production in 2013—even when history showed that zero quarterbacks, in the 751 other instances, managed to accomplish what Manning accomplished. In a league where the rules have continued to open up the passing game, where moving your team up and down the field to score as many points as possible is the goal of all quarterbacks seeking to contribute to their team's chances of winning, the door remains wide open for any quarterback hoping to approach Manning's records. Playing at a high enough level to accomplish that feat may be a completely different story.