Meet Peyton Manning: Franchise Killer

Mike McCoy was relinquished of his duties as offensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos this week. Which, of course, got me thinking….

With so many questions about the National Football League’s down ratings and decreased attendance, everyone seems to have an opinion as to why. Even the President has chimed in on Twitter — on many occasions.

Whether you are of the belief that the NFL’s problems stem from Colin Kaepernick or the national anthem protests or the parity that exists between teams or the lack of developed young players at offensive line positions or the over-saturation of the game starting with the Thursday night games, there’s one thing we should all start considering as the sole, number one, without-a-doubt reason for the NFL’s problems: Peyton Manning.

Check it out. What does the NFL need to destroy all these issues? The answer is more good teams. The NFL is full to the brim of mediocre to below-average teams. I mean, look no further than the AFC playoff picture as it exists right now — the Ravens at 5-5 with no discernible playmaker or capable quarterback on offense are in the playoffs, if they started today. You want more? The Buffalo Bills are 5-5 and just started a 5th round rookie at QB and got shelled by the Chargers, 54-24. They are barely on the outside looking in on the playoffs. The aforementioned Chargers, you ask? Well, they’re 4-6 after starting out 0-4 and are all of a sudden the sexy pick to win the AFC West, as the Chiefs have lost 4 of 5 including their most recent to the god-awful New York Giants. I’ve got more.

The Tennessee Titans are 6-4 and a game out of the division lead. They gave up 57 points to the Houston Texans earlier this year. What is this, the Big 12?

The Broncos got out to fast start with quarterback Trevor Siemian garnering MVP talk in the first few games of the season. Now? Siemian has all but vanished on Denver’s depth chart behind Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. I repeat Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch.

And while the AFC is soaked in mediocrity, the NFC isn’t a whole lot better — the teams there just seem to mask it better. If you look at win-loss records, we’ve got some very good teams in the NFC and the depth is there. Or so it seems. But look a little deeper.

The Detroit Lions are 6-4, but are they really a team that can win a road playoff game in January? The Cowboys went from challenging the Eagles to a team that can’t protect their quarterback or execute screen passes. The Packers might not win another game this year, yet they stand at 5-5 right now. The Seahawks were many people’s pick to represent the conference in the Super Bowl this February. Now, they can’t run the ball and their defense looks lost. They’re 6-4.

Ok, now I’m tired of going on about this. I hope I’ve made my case — the NFL has very very very few great teams. All these teams are just middling around .500. But some will make the playoffs because, hey, 12 teams have to, then they’ll get trounced in what will be an unwatchable first weekend of the postseason; and people will wonder why ratings were down. Hmmmm….

So, back to my point here. If we need more above-average, good, and
great teams, let’s look at why we don’t have them. Again, enter everyone’s favorite regular season quarterback, Peyton Manning.

I argue while Manning won 2 Super Bowls for the Colts and the Broncos and with those victories, brought a bounty of benefits to those teams and cities, he has done more to destroy and hinder franchises in the NFL.

Ready? Let’s count.

Indianapolis Colts (1)

This is an easy one. Manning’s greatness only hid all of this franchise’s foibles — from the construction of the roster to the owner’s antics that bring into question his mindset and ability to own an NFL team. No one talked about those things when Peyton was there. Why? Because the Colts were winning. Peyton consistently took 10-win talent and turned it into 14 wins or 8-win talent to 12 wins. Since his injury in 2011, the Colts have gone 54-52 and currently start the Patriots former 3rd string QB and a coach that no one believes will be there next year,

Denver Broncos (2)

Short and simple. Peyton leaves Denver, rides off into the sunset after
capturing Super Bowl 50 — and leaves Denver with Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian to man the ship. Do we really need to get into specifics? I mean, just look at John Elway up in his suite during these Bronco games. His expression says it all.

Chicago Bears (3), Miami Dolphins (4), and San Diego/L.A. Chargers (5)

Thanks to Peyton Manning’s success in Denver, the coaches who were
there when he was and were “coaching” him (like we’re supposed to believe they had a hand in his success there) benefited after Manning retired by parlaying that success into other coaching jobs — John Fox in Chicago, Adam Gase in Miami, and Mike McCoy in San Diego.

The Bears are 12-29 with Fox and have not even sniffed the playoffs.

The Dolphins are 14-12 under Gase and were quickly dismissed in the wildcard round last season. This year, Gase felt signing Jay Cutler to play quarterback for him was a good decision.

The Chargers went 27-37 before firing McCoy and now sit at 4-6 with first year coach Anthony Lynn.

Detroit Lions (6)

The Lions hired Jim Caldwell, partly, based on the success he had in Indianapolis. Of course, we know Manning covered up so many warts
with that franchise, but now here’s another organization putting their faith in a coach who, well, may or may not really know what he’s doing. Maybe that’s harsh. Let’s just say Caldwell isn’t quite the same coach without Manning under center.

Under Caldwell, the Lions have no division titles and no playoff wins.

Atlanta Falcons (7) and Seattle Seahawks (8)

These franchises, while they’ve each experienced success recently, have  not been “ruined” per se by Peyton Manning, but they’ve encountered hinderances over the past decade and a half, thanks to “the Sheriff”.

After Jim Mora, Sr. enjoyed the benefits of a Peyton-led Colts team, the league thought his son, Jim Mora, Jr. must be worthy of a head coaching gig. Both Atlanta and Seattle bit — and neither relished in any sort of sustained success with Mora as their coach. It wasn’t only until years after Mora left each city that those franchises started winning consistently.

Cleveland Browns (9) and Tennessee Titans (10)

Although Manning never played for either team, the flirtatious manner in which he teases them is enough to send both the Browns and Titans over the edge. Both franchises have been rumored in the past (and some rumors still linger today) to be interested in Manning or that Manning had an interest in some sort of front office job with them. As Peyton leads them along, we see neither of these franchises is fully committing to life “without” him, even though they don’t have him — if that makes any sense. And it does, right?

So about a third of the NFL’s teams have been ruined or their path back to relevance has been commandeered by Peyton Manning. And there’s your reason for all the league’s woes. (That’s not even taking into account how Peyton has damaged the college game — Tennessee, Duke, and UCLA.)

Great, glad we solved that. Up next, why Peyton Manning is to blame for Lonzo Ball.

You’re welcome, everyone. And Happy Thanksgiving!


Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.


Author: Brian Goodwin

An educator for 15 years. I have a passion for sports and a passion for writing about sports. I'm very excited to run this blog and have conversations with people about relevant topics, mostly pertaining to sports but also in all aspects of life.

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