If it seems like Peyton Manning is being hit more than he ever has in the past, it's because he is. The Denver Broncos quarterback has been sacked eight times in the first three games of the 2012 season. If he continues to get sacked at this pace, he will set a personal career-high in sacks in a single season (currently that's 29 times in 2001). This is not exactly the start that the Broncos wanted to have for Manning after his year-long absence from the game recovering from neck fusion surgery.
Manning Doesn't Get Sacked
One of Manning's hallmarks as a quarterback in his years with the Indianapolis Colts was the few times he got sacked relative to how much he threw the ball. In his last three seasons with the Colts (2008-2010), Manning dropped back to pass 1,805 times over those three seasons and was sacked on just 40 plays. In 2010, he tied with his brother Eli of the New York Giants for fewest sacks for a quarterback starting all 16 regular season games (with 16), despite the fact that Peyton had 140 more pass attempts. In 13 full seasons as a quarterback, Manning has been sacked 20 or more times in just five seasons. At the pace that he's currently on, he could get sacked more than 40 times this season.
Why Is He Getting Sacked So Much?
Manning's sack numbers can mostly be attributed to the frustrations that come with playing with an entirely new set of offensive teammates. I won't blame the offensive line because I'm quite sure that Manning has never had a great offensive line to work with. He's always known how to defeat the pass rush by finding open teammates quickly. Now, with the Broncos, Manning is having trouble finding open teammates when he really need them. I can't be sure if that's simply due to a young receiving corps that is being forced to grow up quickly with Manning or an issue with offensive play-calling. He also has had to rely heavily on the pass to try and mount huge comebacks in games against the Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans. That's left him open to even more fierce pass rushes.
So Here Is The Good News About Those Sacks
Manning had many detractors in late 2011 and early 2012 when he was talking about making a comeback after neck fusion surgery. Those detractors felt that Manning would never be able to handle getting hit by NFL defensive players again. Well, if the eight sacks show anything, it's that Manning is clearly able to take a hit and keep getting up and performing well. I suppose that's something that Broncos fans can be happy about.
Julie is a featured NFL contributor and writes about the Denver Broncos for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A lifelong football fan, she began following the Broncos upon moving to Denver in 2001.
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