Andy Lindahl has the privilege of watching every Denver Broncos game from the sideline, so if anyone can vouch for Peyton Manning’s arm strength – or lack thereof – it’s him. While Manning’s arm strength is nothing to write home about these days, he still has the Broncos in the AFC Championship.
There’s a reason for that.
“Well, it’s funny because we always talk about the arm strength, and I don’t know that the arm strength has changed too much,” Lindahl said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “The ball has always kind of fluttered a bit. As a matter of fact, everybody should remember from a couple years ago during the 2013 run, he was asked about thrown ugly passes and he joked about it. So the arm strength (this year) is not what’s noticed for me.”
Instead, it’s Manning’s decision-making.
“What makes him so special, what always awes me, what’s made him fun to watch, whether he was a Colt or a Bronco – and I saw him live both – is just his knowledge, the way he sees the game, the way he’s mentally playing a chess match that nobody else seems to be playing,” Lindahl said. “He’s almost like the matrix, always has been to me, where he seems to know how everything is going to end up before the rest of us see it. What’s changed this year, physically, it’s not as much. It’s more about the mental game where especially on the first eight, nine games – before he was removed because of the foot injury – he was forcing passes. He was forcing so many passes where he shouldn’t have. Now you come to find out some of that is because of the foot injury. He didn’t believe in his arm strength. He didn’t think he could look off a read and go someplace else, so he was stepping in and forcing throws and just hoping that the play would work out, I feel like. So that’s kind of what’s changed this year.”
Manning, however, seemed more sure of himself against Pittsburgh and San Diego, leading the Broncos to comeback wins in both games.
“The last game-and-a-half that we’ve watched him play – going from the San Diego half that he closed out and this last game – he’s throwing the ball well,” Lindahl said. “I know that the numbers weren’t great and some of the footballs didn’t look fantastic on TV, but receivers dropped a lot of passes that they shouldn’t have. I think he looks more healthy than we’ve seen him really since training camp this year, and he played a great mental game. He was back on point mentally. James Harrison talked about it after the matchup. He figured out the blitzes, he knew where things were coming. He came close to making a mistake with William Gay late in the game, but Emmanuel Sanders knocked the ball away, what could’ve been an easy interception. But aside from that, he didn’t force the ball, he ran the offense the way it was supposed to be, and he looked more mentally on top of things again.”