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More than a quarter of the NFL season is finished, and we’re still waiting for Peyton Manning to return to the Peyton Manning we all remember from the Colts.Mike Freeman of CBS Sports spoke to three unnamed sources from opposing teams, and the reviews of Manning’s current arm strength are rough. All three sources said Manning’s arm is between 70 and 80 per cent of what it once was. Here’s the money paragraph:
The consistent opinion among the sources who have studied Manning extensively on film is that his arm isn’t getting stronger. One source believes the arm strength is even slightly weaker. I find the latter claim to be dubious but what happened in New England this past weekend was indeed interesting.
The dip in Manning’s arm strength is understandable. He just had four neck surgeries and didn’t play football for an entire season. But the return to form is coming slower or expected, or not at all.
Here are the stats based on distance:
- Passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage: 21/28 (75%), 222 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 109.5 QB rating
- Passes thrown 1-10 yards: 55/76 (72%), 515 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 103.8 QB rating
- Passes thrown 11-20 yards: 19/35 (54%), 304 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 102.6 QB rating
- Passes thrown 21-30 yards: 2/8 (25%), 48 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT, 52.1 QB rating
- Passes thrown 31-40 yards: 2/5 (40%), 73 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 127.5 QB rating
For some context, all NFL QBs combined have completed 35% of their passes in the 21-30-yard range, with an average QB rating of 85.
The sample size is small, but based on the evidence we have (along with the eye test), Manning is less effective and accurate once he tries to throw deep balls.
His stats should bounce back in the coming weeks, when the schedule gets way, way easier than the Steelers, Falcons, Texans, Raiders, Patriots gauntlet he just faced. But for now, the jury is still out.