Peyton Manning will miss at least one game due to a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot.
News of Manning’s injury, which was announced after he turned in perhaps the worst performance of his career with five completions and four interceptions in a 29-13 loss to Kansas City, was surprising but not altogether shocking.
“Yeah, it’s been on the injury report and they had talked about it during the week, but we were told he was fine (and that) it was no big deal,” Broncos sideline reporter Andy Lindahl said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “But we’ve heard that before. What was it, the quad last year? This is not the first time we’ve heard that he’s had (an) injury and that it’s not a big deal – and you find out after the fact maybe it was a bigger deal than you thought. What was strange about yesterday was right away – I’ve never been one to buy into the ‘He’s lost his arm strength, it’s a huge problem’ sort of theory that’s gone on here. He’s thrown the ball the same way since he got here, and it’s always kind of looked the same. Yesterday was the first time for me, from field level, where it just kind of floated like a balloon. I thought it really showed up on that play when Emmanuel Sanders got popped. He was just waiting for that ball to come down and there was just no velocity on it at all. Early on, you started wondering, ‘Is he going to make it through today?’ It just was a rough day all around yesterday.”
While Manning is slated to miss Denver’s road game against the Bears this Sunday, his absence could extend beyond that.
“My guess is that it’s going to be for a while,” Lindahl said. “Gary Kubiak sort of made it sound today, like, ‘Hey, at least for a couple weeks here, we’re probably going to go this route.’ Now, he circled back later in the press conference when pressed about just how long do you think he’ll be out, and he said, ‘Well, we’re all-in on this week, we’re just worried about this week, we’re only worried about the Bears.’”
After the Bears, however, come the Patriots. The undefeated Patriots.
“The networks want to see the prime-time quarterback matchup,” Lindahl said, “and there’s a very good possibility – at least in my mind – I think there’s a very good possibility that you don’t get what appears to maybe be the final Manning/Brady matchup on that Sunday night game. I’m sure Manning is going to be dying to play in that, but I’ve talked to a number of former players that players in this offense. They’ve all told me one thing: You need a mobile quarterback for this thing to work.”
Specifically, you need a quarterback to run bootlegs and roll to the outside and threaten on the edge – both with the pass and the run.
“That holds linebackers. That keeps guys out of lanes,” Lindahl explained. “Without the threat of a quarterback running and doing that stuff, the linebackers are jumping in gaps, they’re pursuing aggressively from the backside. All this stuff is feeding off each other. So if we were to see Brock Osweiler turn this back into an offense that looks more familiar with what they’ve done in the past, then I don’t know what you do. If you win that game against Chicago and the offense is as effective as it’s been all year, I don’t know how you pull the plug on the kid right away knowing that this injury for most people takes at least four weeks to even start to kind of feel better.”
Depending on how Osweiler plays, Lindahl said it’s possible that John Elway and the Broncos may prefer the Arizona State product over a healthy Manning – even down the stretch and into the playoffs.
“I’m not going to rule it out,” Lindahl said. “John Elway said it when he introduced Gary Kubiak: This team is bigger than one player. That’s why he chose a coach and a system he’s comfortable with even though it doesn’t match up with Manning’s skill set – and I don’t think John’s afraid to make that decision. But we’re putting the cart before the horse. Brock has to show that he’s better than your typical first-year starter in the next couple games.”