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If healthy, Peyton Manning deserves job back as Broncos starter

If healthy, Peyton Manning deserves job back as Broncos starter
if-healthy-peyton-manning-deserves-job-back-as-broncos-starter
So here we are, finally, at the crossroads Will Blackmon Kids Jersey of Peyton Manning Way and Brock Osweiler Bypass. Manning is back on the practice field this week; Osweiler is again in the saddle at starting quarterback. At some point soon, the Denver Broncos must declare a permanent starter between these guys. Not only for the sake of offensive continuity, but also to keep this situation from becoming a game-by-game debate into the postseason. Someone has to lead the team come hell or high water – without looking over their shoulder following every failed series. And after Sunday's playoff-caliber game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (at Heinz Field, no less), we should know who that someone is. Two weeks ago, Oswelier looked strapped into that seat permanently. Now? Not so sure. This much is clear: if Manning shows that he's healthy and practicing better than Osweiler, he has earned one more shot at the starting job. How? A home loss and seven straight quarters without an offensive touchdown should have the Broncos at least feeling around for the brake pedal. Not including one kneel-down possession, that's 22 straight Osweiler-led series without reaching the end zone. The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders deserve plenty of defensive credit for that, but momentary pause is required. Particularly when Manning is not only practicing again, but also reportedly looking healthy and good. Maybe all of the Manning supporters like Von Miller Youth Jersey Tony Dungy were right this season, when they kept saying repeatedly that something beyond nerve degeneration was wrong with Manning. Manning's failings this season can't be concealed under a sugary glaze. He was nothing short of terrible for the majority of the year. Indeed, when he bottomed-out in that awful, eye-averting 29-13 loss to Kansas City, I assumed side effects of his neck injury had finally ended his career on the spot. But a lot has happened since then. First, the Chiefs were better than we thought. Second, Manning was legitimately injured, with a tear in the plantar fascia of his left foot. Third, the injury bothered him for weeks (and most certainly played into lower body mechanics that impacted Manning's passes). Finally, and maybe most important, we are seeing that right now, Osweiler is a solid caretaker in the offense, winning games with the running game and defense. There's nothing wrong with that latter point. But there are two types of quarterbacks that matter the most when it comes to the postseason: The kind that can win a Super Bowl and the kind that can be part of a Super Bowl-winning team. At this moment, Osweiler isn't winning a Super Bowl for Denver by carrying the team. But he might be a quarterback who can play an important role on a team that wins a Super Bowl. Manning? It's uncertain he can do either. But there is a chance he might be able to do both – either carry or play an integral role. Why believe that? Because I don't know how healthy Manning has been to this point. The day after Osweiler commandeered the win against New England, I had a conversation with a pro personnel man who has seen a lot of film on Manning over the years. I remarked that Osweiler had locked up the Denver job and Manning should probably start thinking about what he was going to do in retirement. The pro personnel man, quickly on the spot, asked, "But what if Peyton wasn't healthy all this time? "If he comes back and looks like the Peyton http://www.officialbroncosnflauthentic.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_SHANE_RAY_JERSEY.html everyone expected, how can you not play him?" Osweiler was managing the offense well enough to win games. And as long as the Broncos were winning games, why mess with that dynamic? But conditions may have changed. Twenty-two straight possessions without an offensive touchdown is an eternity in the NFL. You do something like that in the preseason, and you might lose your job as the starting quarterback. And the way Kubiak was calling offense in the Raiders loss (51 passes versus 18 designed rushes) suggests there still isn't much faith in the running game. All of which brings us to the Steelers, who are streaking and looking like they could be an AFC favorite if they capture one of the wild-card spots in the remaining weeks. Osweiler will need to play well to beat Pittsburgh on its home field in what will be a litmus test for how he handles playoff pressure. If he fails in that moment in a way that suggests he's not ready, Manning is going to get another shot. Especially if he's got momentum in practice. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak signaled as much Wednesday, saying that Manning has "taken a step forward," an oddly positive phrase if indeed Kubiak's plan is to keep Manning on the sideline permanently. But Kubiak hasn't said that. Instead, he's sounding like a guy who has his poker hand pressed close to his chest. "The team knows exactly what's going on [at quarterback]" Kubiak said, "because they're out there every day." It's an interesting way to phrase this http://www.seahawksofficialnflonline.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_STEVE_LARGENT_JERSEY.html situation: "What's going on at quarterback." The answer to that seems a little less certain than it was a few weeks ago. A pivotal intersection has arrived, and we're going to find out this week how wide open the Super Bowl corridor is for Denver. More important, we'll find out a great deal about which quarterback will drive the Broncos down that path. And contrary to popular opinion, Manning doesn't appear to be done just yet.

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