Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 7/22/12
The biggest story during the 2012 offseason had to revolve around the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes, and the eventual winners of those sweepstakes - the Denver Broncos.

The sentiment around the Broncos' organization and fan base was they had finally landed the guy who would allow their proud franchise to return to the promised land, even if it did come at a hefty price tag.

Yet, at the same time, the prevailing opinion among many fans and NFL analysts across the nation is that Denver may be taking a huge risk by acquiring the aging veteran, who, recently recovered from multiple surgeries - might not have what it takes to lead the Broncos back into the playoffs.

History would suggest that future Hall of Fame quarterbacks have had mixed success when switching teams.

While former Green Bay Packer Brett Favre would lead the New York Jets to a 9-7 record in 2008, they would still miss the playoffs; Favre would lead the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship the following season, only to see the Vikings miss the playoffs in 2010. Kurt Warner would lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008, but that was several seasons after having joined the team.

Critics would argue that Peyton Manning, in addition to having undergone at least three neck surgeries, is in a downward career trajectory. They point out that from 2009 to 2010, his passer rating decreased from 99.9 to 91.9, and his yards per attempt dipped from 7.88 to 6.92.

Those numbers might be hard to ignore, but that same 91.9 passer rating and 4,700 passing yards were still pretty darn impressive, good enough for 10th in the League. As for the dip in yards per attempt, a good part of that could be attributed to the fact that Indy was, in fact, one dimensional in 2010 - Manning’s 679 passing attempts were almost 300 more than the 393 plays the Colts attempted on the ground that same season.

It is true that Indianapolis hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2007 (when Joseph Addai ran for 1,072 yards), and that has put the burden squarely on Manning’s shoulders. Manning’s best seasons (2004 and 2005 - when he amassed passer ratings of 121.1 and 104.1) came when his teammate in the backfield at the time - Edgerrin James - ran for season totals of 1,548 yards and 1,506 yards respectively.

It is no coincidence, then, that Manning also posted career highs in yards per attempt during those two seasons - 9.17 in 2004 and 8.27 in 2005.

That is why Manning's move to Denver's power running attack might be - pardon the pun - just what the doctor ordered. Last season Denver led the league in rushing, averaging over 164 yards per game. Sure, a good bit of that came from Tim Tebow - now a New York Jet - but Denver running backs still ran for 1,972 yards in 2011, led by Willis Mcgahee’s 1,199 yards. 

The Broncos' running back's rushing totals were almost 500 more yards than the Colts ran for in 2010 - Indianapolis' 1,483 total rushing yards were 29th in the NFL, above only  Washington, Seattle, and Arizona.

Even in 2011, two of the top passing offenses in the NFL had a way more balanced attack than Manning has had recently. The New Orleans Saints, the top passing attack last season, also boasted a rushing attack that was 6th in the NFL, averaging almost 133 yards per game on the ground.  And the Patriots, the Super Bowl runner-up, averaged 110.2 yards per game on the ground in 2011, good for 20th in the league, but still almost 20 yards better than the 92.7 ypg the Colts averaged in 2010.

So, while there still will be those who doubt that Manning can make a significant impact in the Mile High City this fall - Broncos fans should have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

Because, as history has shown, when the future Hall of Famer has had a decent supporting cast in the backfield he can be among the most efficient quarterbacks in the game.
 
 

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