It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time not too long ago when Broncos fans were feeling conflicted. They were elated after Peyton Manning was signed, but still confused by the sudden absence of Tim Tebow in their lives. For some there were surely ceremonial Tebow jersey candlelight vigils. Others used much more unfortunate and public ways to express their deep inner battle.
Manning simply doesn’t make many mistakes. If we’re trying to quantify that, then last night during a 37-21 Raiders pounding that was much worse than the scoreboard made it appear (though gamblers who placed their sawbucks on the Broncos when the spread was 16.5 broke many inanimate objects), Manning misfired only five times on his 37 pass attempts. At one point late in the first half he completed 15 straight passes, and he didn’t throw an incompletion to a wide receiver until his 30th pass attempt. His only other mistake was a meaningless fumble after a red-zone sack.
His three touchdown passes give him 12 total so far, the most ever through three games. And his 374 passing yards pumped into the Raiders’ secondary while completing passes to eight different receivers puts Manning on pace for, oh, 6,096 yards this year. Obviously that volume will settle because I can’t compute such a ridiculous number, but it shows just how efficient the Broncos offensive machine has been, and how much straight cash money lies in the fantasy fortunes of all involved.
Yesterday while pondering the Monday nighter and Manning’s pass distribution so far, I wondered when we would see some sort of separation among his receivers, because surely there has to be some give eventually in an offense with so many talented hands. Umm, nope.
Eric Decker may have led the way last night yardage-wise with his 133 yards, most of which came on a 61-yard catch. But Manning still had three receivers with 80 or more yards, and between Decker, Wes Welker, and Demaryius Thomas, 25 catches were split almost evenly (10, 8, and 7).
Manning doesn’t just exploit the weak areas of a defense and the holes in coverage with a blitz on its way. He punches you straight in the jugular and does it repeatedly, which we saw last night when he audibled again and again when the Raiders were sending pressure, completing a pass to the exact place the extra rusher was coming from. And he does all that strategizing, pocket maneuvering, and information processing while rarely throwing a wayward ball. Over these first three weeks he’s now attempted 122 passes without one landing in the hands of an opposing defender. Last year at this time he had thrown three of his 11 total interceptions.
Thus ends today’s Peyton Manning greatness gushing session. Next up: the Eagles, and their 29th-ranked secondary that’s giving up an average of 323 passing yards per game. Kaboom.
More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
Torrey Smith is ballin’ out pretty hard
When Anquan Boldin was traded away from Baltimore, we knew Torrey Smith would get buckets of targets. And then when Dennis Pitta was lost for most and still possibly all of the 2013 season, we assumed those buckets would turn into dumpsters. But even with the utter lack of options elsewhere for Joe Flacco and Ray Rice’s likely brief one-week absence, an early boom on this level is still surprising, if only because of how much Smith is set to shatter previous career highs.
Since we’re now one game away from hitting the quarter mark this season for all but the teams on a bye in Week 4, the ol’ “it’s early and these numbers aren’t real” line will slowly die its horrible death. That applies for Boldin too, because as Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun observed, he’s on pace for 85 receptions and 1,434 yards. He’s had 80 or more receiving yards in each game so far, with 92 yards on five catches in a win over the Texans Sunday (18.5 yards per catch, and it included a season high 48 yarder).
Deep ballin’ is what Smith does best still, and we can look to Week 1 when he had 23.0 yards per catch as the primary evidence of that life fact. His yardage and fantasy production will always come in chunks, and his touchdowns may be moderate (we’re still waiting on his first one). But with this early pace that’s rather robust, he easily has enough cushion to still smash his career single-season yardage high of 855 yards.
In summary: if you’re a Smith owner, this is you…
Something is missing from this picture
Let’s see if you can catch it.
— Rashad Johnson (@49foyamind49) September 24, 2013
My deepest apologies to those who are reading this at their place of work, and you just covered Joan from accounting with a steaming beverage.
Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson lost the end of his finger in a freak incident Sunday, and what’s even zanier is that he didn’t realize A PART OF HIS BODY WAS MISSING until after the game while undressing. For some reason, his glove was bloody. Yeah, odd that.
I’m really not sure what’s more absurd: a player losing part of his finger in a football game, or that said player had no idea a portion of his finger no longer existed. Seriously, Johnson still can’t recall how it happened.
“I’m not even sure how it happened,” Johnson said Monday. “If I had to take a guess, I would say maybe it dug into the turf there and snapped back and broke it that way. My glove was torn or ripped, which makes me think it didn’t get caught in a facemask or a cleat stepped on it.”
But oh, it gets better.
“It was pretty shocking to see it that way. But this type of stuff happens. Guys end up with bad biceps, bad shoulders, bad fingers. I mean, it’s just a part of the game fans don’t get an opportunity to see.”
“Stuff happens” “it’s a part of the game”.
Hey, maybe it is, and NFL fields are littered with discarded fingers every Sunday. But Johnson’s ability to still speak in robotic clichés even while starring at a finger that’s forever reduced in size is downright terrifying.
Today in fun statistical anomalies
Our dearest friends over at Fantasy Pros pointed out this delicious little fact nugget.
A. Luck has just 1 fewer rushing TD than M. Vick & C. Kaepernick combined over past 2 seasons #wontlastbutfun
— FantasyPros (@FantasyPros_NFL) September 23, 2013
Luck’s rushing ability that often translates into touchdowns around the goal-line makes him an even more valuable commodity, since rushing touchdowns are usually worth more than passing touchdowns (six points compared to four points). Even with the shortened seasons for Colin Kaepernick and Michael Vick last year, this stat is still…interesting.
With his most recent score Sunday, Luck already has two rushing touchdowns this year after five in his rookie season. That’s seven then over just 19 career games, a fine pace for a quarterback whose more than capable of running and creating on the move, but his speed isn’t nearly on the same level as the quicks of Vick and Kaepernick.