A couple nights ago on Monday night football we all were eyewitnesses to my main man Peyton Manning and the Bronco offense struggle in a loss to the Falcons. After an impressive week 1 victory against the Steelers, without a doubt I was pumped to see Peyton back on the field first and foremost and the ability to early success with the victory. We saw vintage Manning, we saw the pre-snap adjustments dissecting the chess match with Polamalu and the Steeler D, we saw a team that looked like a force to be reckoned with in the AFC. On the other hand their were a couple of caution signs that came up in my mind before I was to caught up in the moment and join the consensus that HE’s BACK. As a Colt fan since grade school I spent many years praising and in awe of #18 but now it’s time for me to be analytical and tad bit little critical, here’s why; before the game Jon Gruden continued to remind us that during his conversations Peyton himself said his health as well as the cohesion with the offense was still a work in progress. We must remember this is a new system for him under Mike McCoy which he is still learning as well as implementing a lot of things we are accustom to seeing from his days as a Colt. With that being said 100% of the fault does not fall on #18’s shoulders, this guy is a football genius as we all should know and the offensive line, backs and receivers have a lot to take in to be on the same page with Peyton. Also, referring back to that week 1 win, I didn’t see too many big plays down the field which lets me know he’s still building the strength to have the mustard needed to “consistently” throw the ball down field. Now getting to the MNF game against the Falcons, they were playing on the road vs. a fast and hot Falcons team and defense in particular that walked through the Kansas City Chiefs a week prior in impressive fashion. Early we saw the defensive backs from ATL disguising coverage’s and flying around the field making plays all game but mainly in that first quarter where they picked off Manning 3 times. I saw a couple of passes float in the air which needed to be on “a rope” to his receivers eluting back to the arm strength or lack there of. On the positive side, I also saw Peyton lead that team to within a touchdown from coming back to win that game. His arm strength improved as the game went for example on a deep post he threw to Eric Decker which was dropped late in the game. So my level of concern for this team is at about 4 out of 10. This is the rust he needs to get out of his system. The more games Peyton gets under his belt, the more throws, the more in sync we will see that offense and as a result, this will be more like that dangerous team we saw week one with the big splash plays down field in addition. After coming off 4 neck surgeries I’d say he’s pretty darn close to being at the MVP caliber level we are used to seeing. As many have broken down and dissected this week 2 loss, no one is more critical of his game then Peyton himself, so I know for a fact he is in the film room correcting those mistakes and continuing to rehab as we speak. No need to panic Bronco fans. P.S you guys have my quarterback so I am definitely on the bandwagon.
Here are my Power Rankings for the AFC West:
- Denver Broncos Last Season (8-8)
Key Losses: DT Brodrick Bunkley, WR Eddie Royal, QB Tim Tebow
Key Additions: QB Peyton Manning, TE Jacob Tamme, WR Andre Caldwell, CB Tracy Porter
Exit Tim Tebow, enter Peyton Manning the 2012 Broncos have a HOF quarterback now under center. I’ve already broken down my thoughts on the early 1-1 start to the season and I still have them at the top of the division. This is a team that will only get better from week to week. The balance of run and pass is present as RB McGahee continues to prove he still has some juice left in the tank. On the other side of the ball you still have pro-bowlers Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller leading the defense that is getting stops when needed. It’s early to say how good this team could or will be and I'll try to keep my bias out the equation by saying we will have to wait and see, but as for now they are the team to beat in the AFC West.
- San Diego Chargers Last Season (8-8)
Key Losses: WR Vincent Jackson, RB Mike Tolbert.
Key Additions: OLB Jarret Johnson, OLB Melvin Ingram, WR Robert Meachem, WR Eddie Royal, FB LeRon McClain
Year in and out we don’t know what to expect from this Chargers squad..... well, aside from the fact that head coach Norv Turner will be on the hot seat. They have their all pro quarterback in Philip Rivers. They had a defense which ranked middle of the pack last season but is more then capable of being a top 5 defense which it has done by getting off on the right track this season. Despite the usual slow start they’re 2-0, but wins over the Raiders and Titans don’t necessarily put them at the top of the division just yet. With injuries to key players TE Antonio Gates and RB Ryan Mathews as well as hits to the offense and defensive line it’s yet to be seen what they will look like once they are tested by a formidable opponent. As well as how soon or long it will take for these players to return to the lineup. Also it has yet to be seen who will step up and fill the shoes of Vincent Jackson who is now with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Meachum and Royal only have a combined 6 catches between them after the first two games of the season. Others have stepped up though prime example backup tight end Dante Rosario who caught three touchdown passes last week vs the Titans. All in all, the Chargers have found away to get it done thus far, lets see if the trend continues.
¾. Kasas City Chiefs Last Season (7-9)
Key Losses: CB Brandon Carr
Key Additions: RB Peyton Hillis, CB Stanford Routt, RT Eric Winston
Before I get into the expectations for the Chiefs I ranked them as interchangeable between the 3 and the 4 spot with the Raiders because it’s a toss up as to who has had a worse start as both look to try and avoid going 0-3. I give the Chiefs a slight nudge over the Raiders because they seem to have more pieces but back to what I just said "slight nudge". There is still a questions mark after Matt Cassels' name as if he is the quarterback to lead this team. There is also a questions mark after Romeo Crennels’ name because they are not sold if he is the head coach for the job to lead this team back to the playoffs. They still have weapons at the skill positions with Jamall Charles and Peyton Hillis putting up 151 yards pg. on the ground thus far. Dwayne Bowe continues to be Cassels’ security blanket but there hasn’t been a solid second option to step up. Defensively this team is lacking the ability to have what it takes to get opposing offenses off the field or even provide some type of speed bump. And After loss to the Buffalo Bills it doesn't seem as if things will get any better. This team seems to lack a leader on the field and until some type of unity is formed or some one steps up I believe they will continue to struggle. As they face off against another 0-2 opponent against the Saints this Sunday we will see how desperate they are for a win.
¾ Oakland Raiders Last Season (8-8)
Key Losses: DE Kamerion Wimbley, CB Stanford Routt, RB Michael Bush
Key Additions: OG Mike Brisiel, OG Tony Bergstrom, RB Mike Goodson, CB Ronald Bartell, WR Juron Criner
This team has one of the most explosive backs in the league in Darren McFadden but you can’t run the ball if people don’t respect the pass or even have the ability to open up holes. They sit dead last in the league in the run category. As they recently switched to a zone blocking scheme in the off season, it has yet to pan out for a team that relies so much on their ground game. Carson Palmer hasn’t looked all that impressive as well as he has vowed before the season to shrug the doubters that say is no longer an elite quarterback. On the other side of the ball they have been struggling heavily with stopping the run ranking 29th in the league in that category. Rolando McClain has not stepped up thus far ranking 7th on the team in total tackles as their feature middle linebacker. After an embarrassing season opener against the Chargers where they had trouble between the punter and long snapper exchange to last week getting ran all over by Reggie Bush and the Miami Dolphins. I believe it once again come down to leadership, who will step up for this team and say enough is enough? This is definitely not the start the Raiders hoped to get off to and it’s not going to get any easier as they face the Steelers this week.