After 261 NFL starts, 184 wins, 70,925 passing yards and a record-breaking 536 touchdowns, the interrogator came for Peyton Manning.
It’s a weighty question.
Brett Favre had the consecutive games phenomenon in his corner during his final season with the Vikings, increasing the media’s deference factor.
As of Monday, Manning is one of four starting quarterbacks with more interceptions than touchdown passes. He ranks 22nd in QBR, 25th in passer rating and 25th in Pro Football Focus’ quarterback grades. Prior to Week 5, Football Outsiders’ efficiency ratings placed Manning 32nd out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks and ranked the Broncos‘ offense 30th out of 32.
The last game in which a Manning-led team failed to score a touchdown occurred in 2003. If not for a pair of defensive scores this year, the Broncos would have been held out of the end zone in Weeks 1 and 5.
Manning’s offense is averaging 1.7 touchdowns per 60 minutes this season, a dramatic drop off from 3.4 in 2014 and 4.4 in the record-breaking 2013 season. In fact, the Tim Tebow-led 2011 offense averaged 2.0 touchdowns per game.
Kubiak said Sunday night that it’s “not fair” to put the offense’s struggles squarely on Manning’s shoulders. When asked about the potential QB change on Monday, the head coach replied, “No, Peyton’s doing just fine.”
He’s right, of course. Denver’s offensive woes go beyond Manning. But it’s certainly fair for a reporter to ask the question when inquiring minds want to know the answer.
The Broncos currently boast an unblemished record. Unless Manning starts costing them games, Kubiak won’t have to consider whether it’s blasphemous to bench a generational touchstone who has grown the sport and provided countless thrills for fans, teammates and coaches.
Who better than Kubiak to handle that potentially delicate situation? When he was in Osweisler’s place as John Elway’s clipboard holder, he was once asked if it was time to replace the legend under center.