A week after a loss at New England, when there were plenty of critics questioning Peyton Manning's arm strength, the Broncos' quarterback showed that his arm is just fine.
Manning drove the ball down the field against the Chiefs last Sunday. His arm looked live. Manning has re-invented himself the past couple years with the Broncos, but against the Chiefs it looked like he was back in his Colts' days. This was a different looking Broncos offense than most games this season.
One throw that stood out was Manning's 37-yard touchdown to Eric Decker early in the third quarter. It was a play-action fake off a stretch run to the right, and a designed long throw by Manning over two defensive backs. It looked like back in the day in Indianapolis, when Manning was faking it to Edgerrin James and taking a deep shot to Marvin Harrison.
This play was different than most of the Broncos' deep passes. On most of the Broncos' shot plays, Manning sees something in the defense before the snap and takes advantage of it. That's what happened on a 77-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas last week. He saw the safety's positioning and decided there was no way he could affect a deep route by Thomas, so I guarantee he had a hand signal to Thomas to tell him to run a vertical route. The touchdown to Decker, however, was a deep pass that was called in the huddle.
Here's how you know the shot play was called in the huddle: It had maximum eight-man protection off the play fake. That means the Broncos called a deep drop for Manning and knew they had to protect him.
The stack formation on the right froze cornerback Brandon Flowers just enough that Decker got behind him. Then Manning saw safety Quintin Demps' body positioning all the way downfield and knew he could throw it over the top of him. When you're a safety squatting like that and your hips are facing the quarterback, a quarterback like Manning knows you can't get over the top quick enough.
Then Manning made a big-time throw. The ball did not lose energy as it carried downfield. It was as good of a throw as you can make to a double-covered receiver.
There were a bunch of throws in the Chiefs game in which Manning drove it downfield. Plays like the deep designed pass to Decker just add dimensions to the Broncos' offense. The more dimensions you have, the better you’ll be and the more difficult you’ll be to defend.
That touchdown to Decker was the type of play the Broncos haven't done much of this year. Most of Manning's downfield throws aren’t "arm strength" throws. That was an "arm strength" throw.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.