I, like many of you in Denver, probably care about the Broncos a little too much for my own good. After two decades of riding and dying on every single snap — of hyperventilating, crying and staring unconsciously at a blank TV for hours after Rahim Moore, Russell Wilson or some other football devil crushed my dreams —  there’s no question that my heart is a little worse for the wear.

And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I love the Broncos more than just about anything. And it’s with that in mind that I say we can no longer give Manning a pass.

Now, let me get this out first: The Denver Broncos ARE NOT going to bench Peyton Manning, and they shouldn’t, but if No. 18 had another name on the back of his jersey, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was one pick-six away from riding the bench.

Wait … I think I hear something …

“Hey idiot, the Broncos are 6-0! What else do you want?”

Solid point, but as all Broncos fans should know, 6-0 doesn’t mean much if you’re not playing come February. Just ask Josh McDaniels.

And the truth is that the Broncos’ undefeated record is about as sturdy as the first little piggy’s straw house.

Plus, it’s not as if the Broncos have been squeaking out close games against elite competition. In fact, the combined record of the Broncos six opponents is currently 10-24, which … is not great.

I keep hearing something to the effect of “You can’t be angry at Peyton Manning when he’s winning you games,” but that’s just not true. Manning hasn’t won the Broncos anything.

Not only is Manning leading the league in interceptions through six weeks (not something you usually equate with wins, or Manning), but I’m positive he’s leading the league in 2-yard passes on third-and-4, too.

This is not the type of quarterback we’re used to.

Manning is currently averaging 6.4 yards an attempt, the lowest of his career, and Sunday’s performance against the Browns only highlighted Denver’s ultra-conservative approach. Manning averaged 6.04 yards per attempt against a Cleveland defense that was missing their shutdown cornerback Joe Haden, and if it wasn’t for Emmanuel Sanders’ 75-yard touchdown receptions, it would have been much, much worse.

Aside from that one explosive play, Manning averaged an Alex Smith-like 4.57 yards per attempt. Even more concerning, though, is that he still managed to toss three interceptions despite rarely ever throwing the ball more than 5 yards down the field.

And that brings us to the real problem: Manning has seemingly lost “it.” And I don’t mean his accuracy or arm strength (those are just fine); I mean the ability to read defenses like a picture book and make intelligent decisions better than anyone in NFL history, the two things that made Manning a five-time MVP.

Sure, you can make the argument that it’s all because he’s in a “new” system, but plenty of quarterbacks have transitioned from one system to another before, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it affect a quarterback as much as it’s affecting Manning. This is still football, and this is still Manning; nobody needs to be making excuses for a first-ballot Hall of Famer.


I don’t care if you suddenly threw Manning into the wishbone, that stat shouldn’t be possible.

And yes, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Demaryius Thomas needs to take some of that contract money and by himself new hands, the offensive line is as bad as it’s been in years and John Elway let Manning’s safety blankets (Julius Thomas and Wes Welker) walk in free agency, but if we’re going to give Manning the credit when the Broncos have the best offense in NFL history, we’ve got to give him the blame when the offense is one of the worst in the league, too.

Again, I’m not asking for Denver to grab their pitchforks and burn down the Manning Mansion; all I’m asking is that we see Manning for what he is.

Nobody deserves a pass, including The Sheriff.