The undefeated Denver Broncos are averaging 42.3 points per game which is 10 more than the second-place Green Bay Packers. The team is led by 37-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning who is two years removed from season-ending neck surgery. Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post joined Bill Littlefield to discuss Manning’s potentially record-breaking season and the Broncos.
BL: Benjamin, is it safe to say that Peyton Manning’s neck is just fine?
BH: I would make that argument. There is no question about it. Watching Peyton Manning is like watching a college kid playing Madden or some video game and just dominating the opposition. It’s stupid and stupendous.
BL: After the Bronco’s 37-21 win over the Raiders on Monday night Manning said, “That was a couple of self-inflicted wounds. We had to settle for field goals. We had pretty good field position to have a turn over there that’s something we gotta correct.” Listening to Manning you would think the Broncos had just lost that game. Was he really that upset about the team’s performance?
BH: Now we’ve seen Peyton Manning on Saturday Night Live. We know he can do a little acting. One could wonder if he’s putting on this persona of someone who must be a perfectionist. Or we look at it the other way, this guy’s just a mad scientist and needs perfection. He cooks things up and wants it to be perfect. If there’s a play with a team up 30 late in the game and some guy takes the wrong step he’s gonna let that guy know about it. Yes, the Broncos are doing very well so far. 3-0 ain’t bad. But at the end of the day all that matters is the playoffs. One radio host in Denver said that the Broncos are playing 20 preseason games. Nothing matters until the playoffs. But if you ask Peyton, what he’s trying to do is set the tone so that when they get in the playoffs they’ll be unstoppable.
BL: Well. one thing might matter during the regular season. Peyton Manning is on pace to set some records. What records are those?
BH: My goodness. You could argue — I mean he’s numerically on pace to set records for touchdowns and passing yards, and maybe more exciting for the coaches is the fact that he has yet to throw an interception yet. The fact is Peyton Manning is playing better than Peyton Manning has ever played.
BL: Last season, Peyton Manning’s first in Denver, he had a solid showing certainly but nothing quite like this. What has changed?
BH: Well, a lot of the receivers have been saying that he has more zip on his ball heading into this year. Then, of course, there is the emergence of two players. One being Julius Thomas, who fantasy owners now know, the tight end who has emerged and scored a touchdown in every game. He hadn’t played in previous years. And then the acquisition of Wes Welker. Welker might be most famous for being the player that Giselle was screaming about because Welker dropped passes in the Super Bowl a couple years back, but Wes Welker — the little guy — is one of the most reliable receivers Peyton Manning has, and he’s caught a touchdown in every game as well.
BL: You have suggested that Manning might be the most dominant 37-year-old of all time. That would be a small sample though, right?
BH: That’s true. That’s true. You look at some seasons Brett Favre had, I mean they weren’t bad, but a wild card I could throw out there is Warren Spahn the old Braves pitcher. A lot of people don’t remember Warren Spahn, but when he was 37 he led the National League in wins, in innings pitched, complete games, and for you current sports fans, in WAR and WHIP.
BL: Will Manning and the Broncos offense continue to be this spectacular through the rest of the season? It’s a little hard to think that anybody would.BH: I mean, that’s the thing. We saw Tom Brady and Wes Welker go undefeated in the regular season a few years back and that was extraordinary. I would wonder if maybe a team like the Kansas City Chiefs — an up-and-coming team in the [AFC West] division, understanding the importance of playing Peyton Manning and the Broncos and with new coach Andy Reid looking to make a mark in the division — if maybe that’s the team that defeats Denver. I mean, there are four guys catching the ball and you could ask 10 different people and they would say different guys [are] the best receiver they have. I mean, it’s a great problem to have and by the way, the guy throwing the ball is one of the most accurate guys in NFL history.