Peyton Manning points the finger at himself
He’s shown plenty of arm strength and an ability to bounce back
after a hard hit. Now, Peyton Manning and the rest of the Denver
Broncos’ sputtering offense need to work out the kinks.
In seven drives with Manning under center, they’ve scored just
one touchdown and turned the ball over four times.
”We’re just lucky it’s preseason,” wide receiver Brandon
Stokley said. ”We’ll get back to work and we’ll work hard, like
we’ve worked this whole offseason and training camp, and we’ll get
The good news is that it’s the offense that’s flimsy, not his
neck or arm.
Manning is deciphering defenses as well as ever, getting the
ball out as quickly as he always has and he almost always makes the
right read. He’s completed 67 percent of his passes and the Broncos
(No. 10 in the AP Pro32) are moving the chains better than they
ever did with Tim Tebow.
Yet, there’s still lots of work to do.
Five months into his comeback in Colorado, Manning’s timing with
his targets isn’t where he’d like it to be. And the three teammates
he has the most rhythm with – wide receiver Eric Decker and former
Colts teammates Stokley and Jacob Tamme – have all made big
blunders in the Broncos’ two preseason games.
Stokley rounded out a route that led to an interception at the
goal line in Chicago, and Decker and Tamme dropped passes that
stalled a promising 2-minute drive inside the Seattle 10.
”It’s frustrating not to be able to finish,” Manning said.
All three of his intended targets took the blame, as did tight
end Joel Dreessen for a ball that sailed way over his head and was
easily picked off by Seahawks safety Jeron Johnson.
”I’ve got to find a way to make that catch, honestly,”
Dreessen said. ”I kind of stuck my hand up there and I was like,
`I don’t know if I can reach it.’ I looked like I gator-armed
Manning’s other interception Saturday night came when left guard
Zane Beadles failed to engage defensive end Red Bryant, who reached
both hands up and deflected Manning’s pass into the arms of
linebacker K.J. Wright at the Seattle 9.
Ever the gentleman, Manning upbraided only himself.
”At the end of the day, they’re interceptions,” Manning said.
”The quarterback signs the check on every ball he throws. There’s
an old saying that the most important part of every play is to
possess the ball at the end of that play. That’s the quarterback’s
job. I have to do a better job of that.”
So for all those radio callers finding fault with Manning, he’s
”Two interceptions. Two in the red zone, two weeks in a row.
Just can’t have it,” Manning said. ”Tipped balls, whatever it is.
Can’t have it. Got to find a way to protect the ball better, ensure
we get some kind of points when we’re down there in the red
Coach John Fox appreciates that accountability.
”You get in that position and you get the fingers pointed at
yourself when things don’t go the right way, that’s kind of the
right way to point fingers,” Fox said. ”And so, he gets that. I
think that’s who he is and that does help spread throughout the
The Broncos (1-1) hope to clean things up Sunday night against
San Francisco (1-1) in what is expected to be Manning’s final dress
rehearsal for the Sept. 9 opener against Pittsburgh.
Despite all the hiccups, there are some positives as Manning
makes his comeback from a nerve injury in his neck that sidelined
him all of last season and led to his departure from Indianapolis
in March: he’s completed 20 of 30 passes for 221 yards and on
Saturday night, he showed the no-huddle offense at altitude can be
the Broncos’ calling card.
Manning played the entire first half and gave the Broncos a 10-9
lead at the break despite three turnovers. He looked great on a
2-minute drive, but that stalled when Tamme dropped a wide-open
touchdown pass 6 seconds before halftime following a drop by Decker
and a 15-yard penalty on center J.D. Walton.
”You try to get it out of your system before the season
starts,” Decker said. ”It’s a good time to work out the
And to get the chemistry just right.
”It’s still a work in progress,” Stokley said. ”We know that,
and we’re working hard every day in practice trying to be perfect,
and that’s what good offenses do.
”It takes time. We’re trying to get there.”
Notes: The Broncos got a boost Monday when S Quinton Carter
(knee, hamstring) practiced for the first time since July 27,
rookie LB Danny Trevathan returned from a sprained ankle and CB
Tracy Porter returned from an illness.
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton on Twitter:
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and