I'm glad to see all the responses to my first article. I'm glad I could get everybody talking about the Top Five QBs in the league. However, I noticed the one thing you guys took umbrage with the most was my exclusion of Peyton Manning in the top five.
It's very simple: we don't know if he is fully healthy.
We can all speculate and conjure up guesses, but we don't REALLY know. Hell, doctors aren't even 100% positive.
Manning himself had this to say earlier in the week during his weekly press conference:
“I still have rehab to do, which I will continue to do throughout training camp and through the season,” Manning said this week. “[I’m] getting more comfortable, but we still have work to do.”
Still has work to do -- every last one of you take note of that.
I want to be clear, I don't want Manning to get hurt and I want him to be healthy all season long. He's the greatest quarterback of this generation and if he consistently had a defense or running game at the same time, he could have had another Super Bowl or two.
That said, I'm scared for Manning. He could be one hit away from an early retirement and no one wants that. Not to mention, he's transitioning away from a dome to Denver's elements. Sure, he won't be dealing with snow every week after October, but won't have the comfort of the dome come December and into mid-January.
That's right, I'm expecting a mid-January run for Manning and the Broncos. (Note: That means playoffs)
The Broncos had a good debut on Thursday. Manning, on the other hand, did not. It's no big deal. Manning has all preseason to get accustomed with his new receivers and is so talented I'm sure he already knows 99% of the playbook.
Receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas form a formidable duo. They aren't Wayne and Garcon, but Manning will find them to be just fine. Tight Ends Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme have never been the number one guy for an entire season, but both will be counted on to step up this season.
The running game should be just fine with some combination of Willis McGahee, Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball and possibly Knowshon Moreno. McGahee he should be the bell cow, and I think eventually Hillman will take over the backup job for a nice one-two punch to help ease the pressure on Manning.
Ultimately, I see the Broncos winning the wide-open AFC West with a healthy Manning. However, I'll hedge my bets and say that if even a minor injury pops up it could -- and likely will -- derail Manning's first season in Denver.
Will Manning throw for 4700 yards and 33 touchdowns this year? Probably not. Playing outside will probably hurt those numbers slightly. I'd still expect to see a completion percentage over 65%, and around 4300 yards. I think the running game will still be a big part of the offense, and that may lower his touchdowns.
Every time Manning drops back in the pocket it will be must-see TV, I can honestly say I'll be paying attention all season. If things go the way I expect, then he'll likely deserve a spot back in my top five.
Follow Brendan Darr on twitter (@BrendanDarr) to continue the debate.