Aside from the 2011 season, which he missed while recovering from neck surgery, Peyton Manning has not missed a game since entering the NFL in 1998.
Well, he’s going to miss one this weekend. Manning, who has a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot, will be unavailable when the Broncos (7-2) face the Bears (4-5) in Chicago this Sunday.
“Manning hasn’t really missed very many games over the course of his career, but it was obvious to the Broncos that he was hurting, that he was not playing well,” 104.3 The Fan host Shawn Drotar said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “And in part, it’s because he’s 39. But another part is because he’s got injuries, both the rib cage injury and the torn plantar fascia. Sometimes there are doctors who will tell you that if you tore it all the way through, it’s less painful than playing on the tear, and in this case, the only way to get it better is to stay off of that foot. My guess is not only is Brock Osweiler starting against the Bears, he very well may be starting against the Patriots the week after that as well. This is an interesting time for Osweiler and the Broncos, as Manning’s sort of football mortality is being put on display here and the Broncos are getting a look into someone who may end up being their future – or may not. Osweiler is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, and in a quarterback-desperate league, having someone who’s not under contract means he’s probably going to test the market.”
Seventeen NFL teams have used multiple quarterbacks this season, so the Broncos are hardly alone in their current plight. Manning, however, appears to be a shell of his former self. He has just nine touchdowns and has thrown 17 interceptions this season – tying his most since 2010.
Then again, Manning played 16 games that year.
Need more perspective? Manning averaged 43.7 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his first three seasons in Denver. He is also just two years removed from his historic 55-touchdown, 10-interception campaign of 2013.
Yes, Manning’s fall has been swift, and it has been precipitous.
“He’s disappointed obviously,” Drotar said. “He’s sort of struggling with understanding how his body reacts at age 39. Some of the things that he thought he could play through, some of the aches and pains that sort of went away when the adrenaline of the game would begin, those aren’t going away anymore. It’s just part of the natural process of getting old, but we all go through it in our own way and we all experience it somewhat uniquely. I think that’s what a struggling Peyton Manning is trying to figure out. He’s trying to figure out how his body reacts. He’s dealing with those physical challenges, and it’s evident based on the number of interceptions he’s thrown that he’s never really experienced anything quite like he has this season. And while he doesn’t like (having) to sit and while he’s certainly going to try to get back as quickly as possible, I think he understands after that performance he had on Sunday in that abbreviated stint that he is not able to help the team at this point. As frustrated as he is about it, he gets it and he’ll be there for Brock Osweiler.”
Osweiler, 24, has attempted just 54 passes in his four-year career. Still, Drotar believes the Arizona State product, who is certainly more mobile than Manning, will be able to run Gary Kubiak’s offense as Kubiak intended. That means a lot of bootlegs and roll-outs to the edge.
“He’s going to be able to step in and run that offense as effectively as possible,” Drotar said. “You’ll see a slightly different offense, and I do suspect you’ll see Osweiler under center quite a bit given the fact that he can run all of the plays Kubiak wants to run.”