The Nonsense in Overreacting to the Conclusion of Peyton Manning's 2014

Posted on January 12, 2015 at 2:55 PM
For the ninth time in his NFL career, Peyton Manning is "one and done" in the postseason.

Sure it's a "team-sport", but ummm, yeah, whatever! He lost, again! That losing, choking, washed up old scrub of a quarterback. Heck—lets all boo Peyton Manning!

Feels good, and he deserves the bashing too. Since he's joined the Broncos, he has a 2-3 postseason record. Unacceptable. He shoud have just retired after 2011 and saved himself the trouble. It's about the rings. Yeah, the rings. Teams want quarterbacks who get it done—not excuses. Champions: Eli, Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson.

Peyton Manning's 2014 List of Excuses

  • Playing with the fluTake an asprin. No big deal.
  • Playing at a dehydration level close to 5%    Drink a Gatorade tough guy.
  • Playing with a torn rectus femoris muscle Walk it off and be a man.
  • Playing with 16th ranked scoring defense PPPlease. Defense is stacked.
  • Playing with 20th ranked run-game (YPA) Nah, nah, C.J. has cool highlights.

Hyperbole aside, knee-jerk January has become a popular time of year to disregard context, sensationalize outliers and over-hype postseason success.

Of course, if it's really "all about the hardware", and if the results of these sudden-death, season-on-the-line games are the true indicators of great quarterbacking, why is it that the last three Super Bowl winning quarterbacks underwhelmed in their follow-up seasons?

  • 2012: Eli Manning (13th)
  • 2013: Joe Flacco (35th)
  • 2014: Russell Wilson (17th)

Peyton ranked 2nd in 2012, 1st in 2013 and 5th in 2014—but has no rings to show for it. Apparently, he's no Eli/Flacco/Wilson.

But what exactly is Manning being criticized for as it pertains to 2014? As one of the media's headlines of choice, Manning-criticism adapts to fit the narrative.

"He doesn't throw for enough yards and touchdowns."—until he posts a league-leading 93.2 QBR (125.6 passer rating) with 233 passing yards, 1 touchdown pass.
"He throws too many interceptions."—until he finishes the season by throwing zero interceptions in his final 83 passing attempts.

Yes, the Broncos lost to the Colts on January 11th, 2015—ending their season under the NFL's single-elimination system and somehow, making their win (when healthy) on September 7th, 2014, over that same exact team, irrelevant to those who seem to believe that the postseason is the bread and butter of quarterback evaluation.

Because while "any given Sunday" instances can happen on rare occasion, we all know that the best quarterbacks shine brightest with their team's season on the line.

Must be over two decades worth of coincidence.

In respects to Manning's 2014 season, the criticism of his performance is really only in relation to four of the 17 games he started.

He also recorded nine games with a passer rating above 110.0 (1st in 2014)—the fourth most in NFL history. But how many times has that been mentioned?

Pro Football Reference: Peyton Manning 2014 Game Log

Manning's pace through the first seven games of the 2014 season was not just great, it was head and shoulders above what any quarterback was able to produce.

  • First seven weeks: 174 of 252 (69.0) for 2,134 yards (8.5), 22 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 119.0 passer rating.
  • Projected (season): 412 of 597 (69.0) for 5,058 yards (8.5), 52 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. 119.0 passer rating.

After that point, Manning recorded passer rating marks of 111.9 (at Raiders), 135.4 (vs. Dolphins) and 125.6 (vs. Chargers), along with his four games below 80.0.

How many other quarterbacks would receive criticism of Manning-like proportions for just four games under 80.0?

Pro Football Reference: Tom Brady 2014 Game Log

Brady actually had a lower cumulative passer rating in his four worst games of 2014 than Manning did in his.

  • Manning (four worst): 102 of 164 (62.2) for 1,084 yards (6.6), 4 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. 69.3 passer rating.
  • Brady (four worst): 074 of 130 (56.9) for 0,670 yards (5.2), 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 69.1 passer rating.

That's been frequently publicized, right? Brady wasn't playing with the flu. He didn't need an IV to pump fluid through his dehydrated body. He wasn't playing with a quad severely bruised on one leg and torn on the other. He just played four games of bad football. Does that undo his body of work this year, in totality? The answer is obvious.

Manning didn't play well vs. the Colts. His 56.5 completion-percentage was poor and his 4.6 YPA average was shamefully putrid (sixth worst of his 280 starts). But was his health a factor in his on-field performance? Obviously. Did his team play well, overall, in support of him? Not by a long shot. The Broncos lost as a team—season over.

"Luck SURGES past Manning" say you?

The same Luck who tossed two interceptions while posting a 76.2 passer rating (a mere 0.7 points ahead of Manning)?

Merriam-Webster defines surge as "suddenly increasing to an unusually high level."

Having your passer rating drop (from 104.0 vs. Bengals) down 27.8 points does not correlate with any sensical interpretation of the verb. The more appropriate headline would be "Unremarkable Luck squeaks by an injured, even less remarkable Manning to claim the right to lose the next week to a superior Patriots team."

Instead, we're treated to nonsense about the torch being passed.

If by "torch", you mean the title of "greatest quarterback of all-time" or "best quarterback playing today", Luck can't earn that by posting a 76.2 passer rating with a (0) touchdown-to-interception differential against the NFL's 16th ranked scoring defense. He played better vs. the Broncos during the first game of the season in a losing effort. Peyton won that game, boasting a (+3) touchdown-to-interception differential while recording a 111.9 passer rating. I guess playing without a torn quad helps.

At the end of the day, if you truly believe that an athlete's health is a non-factor (grounds for "excuse" label), if you believe that playing poorly (even if injured) in only four of 17 games is unacceptable and if you really believe that the result of postseason games, regardless of context, is the advanced metric of choice necessary to evaluate indivdual players playing a team-sport—then I suppose Manning's 2014 season was a let-down.

Maybe he should just retire.

Super Bowl champions: Trent Dilfer (2000), Brad Johnson (2002)
Super Bowl loser: Peyton Manning (2013)

Categories: None