Manning, Kubiak are committed to making this work
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Peyton Manning and Gary Kubiak are committed to making this shaky football marriage work.
Manning leads the league with 10 interceptions, as many as he threw in 2013 altogether, and his seven TDs so far match the total he had in that year’s opener alone.
Yet, Denver is unbeaten thanks to a stout defense, a strong kicker and just enough clutch plays on offense to set up a Nov. 1 showdown with Green Bay featuring two flawed 6-0 teams coming off byes.
”Obviously, we’ve had a ton of breaks. I won’t be going to Vegas for my bye weekend. I’m not feeling lucky now,” Manning said after the Broncos’ 26-23 overtime win at Cleveland.
He’s not feeling fortunate because tipped passes keep landing in opponents’ hands. But he should consider himself blessed that his many mistakes haven’t cost the Broncos a game.
Manning’s 61.6 completion percentage is his worst since 2001. His 6.5 yards per attempt are his worst since his rookie year in 1998. His TD-to-interception ratio is his worst ever and his 72.5 passer rating is his worst since ’98.
So, no, he won’t be jetting to Vegas to play some blackjack this weekend. He’ll be working on his hybrid offense that ranks 29th in the NFL.
”Obviously, we are still going through a transition,” Manning said. ”We are trying to get on the same page and get comfortable. The injuries have not helped that transition.”
His blindside protector, rookie Ty Sambrailo, has missed three weeks with a shoulder injury and left guard Evan Mathis has been bothered that long by a pulled hamstring, forcing some shuffling along the O-line. Tight ends Owen Daniels and Virgil Green have been non-factors, as has Pro Bowl running back C.J. Anderson, who’s been surpassed by Ronnie Hillman as the primary ball carrier.
At 39, Manning hasn’t looked anything like the five-time MVP his resume says he is.
”It has by no means been easy, but Coach Kubiak and I continue to talk and we are committed to trying to get on the same page and get where he and I have a good feel for each other,” Manning said. ”We are both committed to the cause. I think this bye week comes at a good time where we can study some things we have done in the first six weeks and see what has worked and maybe what is not working as well.”
Kubiak has already acquiesced and put Manning in the pistol formation with a running back directly behind him rather than having his QB line up under center in his zone-blocking scheme.
Asked Monday if he’d consider going all the way back to letting Manning run things like he used to, out of the shotgun in the no-huddle, for example, Kubiak said: ”Well, first off, I’m going to do what I think … is best for the quarterback. I would never do anything that I don’t think is best for the quarterback. So, that’s my plan every day I go to work.”
Kubiak pointed to the stat sheet from Sunday, where Demaryius Thomas had 111 yards receiving and Emmanuel Sanders 109, including a 75-yard TD. Hillman ran for 111 yards. Manning threw for 290.
”So, we improved,” Kubiak said. ”We did a lot of good things yesterday. We moved the ball. We need to continue to make that improvement. We had two 100-yard receivers. We had a 100-yard rusher. Those are good things. Those are positive things. We need to protect the ball better. Between he and I, we’ve got to do a better job of that.”
The caveats: Manning misfired 22 times and threw three interceptions to go with his 26 completions.
”Whatever stats people are looking for, we’ve got a great stat and that’s 6-0,” left tackle Ryan Harris said. ”And No. 1 in the division.”
Notes: The Broncos released RB Kapri Bibbs 48 hours after promoting him from the practice squad and re-signed TE Richard Gordon. … Sanders said his bruised left shoulder was sore Monday, but ”I feel good.” He’s expected to practice next week when the team returns from its five-day furlough.
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