In a Sports Illustrated column in December, Richard Sherman ranked the five smartest quarterbacks in the league.
He put Peyton Manning No. 1, saying his ability to read the defence is unparalleled.
But he also took a shot at Manning’s arm strength, writing, “His arm, however, is another story. His passes will be accurate and on time, but he throws ducks.”
A “duck” is a weakly thrown, looping pass, for the uninitiated.
Manning had multiple neck/spinal surgeries at the end of the his tenure in Indianapolis. While it wasn’t reported at the time, it turns out that those surgeries destroyed his ability to throw. He had to physically reteach himself to throw a football, holding clandestine practice sessions so no one could see how bad he was doing.
At his press conference yesterday, he responded to Sherman’s claims perfectly:
“They say he’s a smart player, and I don’t think that’s a real reach what he’s saying there. I do throw ducks. I’ve thrown a lot of yards and touchdown ducks, so I’m actually quite proud of it.”
Manning has lost some arm strength since his injury. But he’s so good that it doesn’t matter.
In this Grantland chart of his 2013 TD passes, you can see that the vast majority of them are close to the line of scrimmage:
In Manning’s time in Denver (the Duck Years, if you will), he has thrown an average of 46 TD passes per year. Before that, he averaged 30.7 TD passes per year.
They are ducks, but ruthlessly efficient ducks.
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