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Peyton is not playing scared

Thursday, October 2, 2014 6:45am
By Cecil Lammey
ESPNDenver.com
 
The Denver Broncos had a bye in Week 4, but that didn’t keep them off the national radar this week. The team is 2-1 after losing in Week 3 to the world champion Seattle Seahawks 26-20 in an overtime contest. 
 
That contest showed the Broncos fighting hard in front of one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. The Seahawks “12th man” makes traveling to Seattle one of the most difficult places to play. 
 
Apparently, that performance wasn’t enough for some analysts. 
 
Former New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Bart Scott said in a recent interview on 105.7 The Fan that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is “playing scared.” 
 
 
In the interview with CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason LaCanfora, Scott said “You want me to be honest, or you want me to lie to you? Listen, if you’re scared, say you’re scared. We talked about them all the time being exposed in the Super Bowl by a tough team that hit ‘em in the face and they (turd?) up and didn’t really want to respond.” 
 
“I was excited to see how the new additions would do, but Peyton Manning looked scared. He was throwing the ball off his back foot. He only got courageous near the end because they were in a prevent defense, and they weren’t bring all the pressure of blitzes and getting pressure on him.” Scott said.
 
The former linebacker with more ridiculous statements, “That game wasn’t a ballgame, they may have went into overtime, they lucked up on some things, but that game was no contest. If I’m Seattle, I laugh because all you have to do is be physical with these guys and bust ‘em in the mouth and eventually they’ll wear down.”
 
“I was looking forward to seeing Peyton Manning attack these guys. I mean c’mon, Philip Rivers/Peyton Manning. Yeah, they’re both great quarterbacks, but Peyton is arguably the best of all time.” Scott emphasized.
 
“Know the difference? Philip Rivers is a tough guy. He’s a competitor, he’s not afraid to take a hit. Peyton Manning at this late stage of his career isn’t willing to look down the barrel of the gun and deliver the football knowing he’s going to take a shot that’s going to hurt.”
 
With all due respect to Scott, I have no idea what game he was watching. Let’s take a look at some plays and statistics from the Broncos/Seahawks game to pick apart how wrong Scott is with his opinion.

Stats

Scott says the Seahawks weren’t getting pressure on Manning in the fourth quarter. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we’ll see that with some screenshots a bit later. 
 
First, let’s look at the way every defense is playing Manning this year. 
 
Manning has been blitzed on 30.1 percent of his dropbacks this year. That ranks 17th in the NFL, and the league average is 29 percent. 
 
The pressure has been getting to Manning at a far lower rate. Manning is only getting pressure on 13.3 percent of his dropbacks. That ranks second in the league behind Andy Dalton (10.5 percent). 
 
Opponents can’t get to Manning on most dropbacks. He’s getting rid of the ball faster than any other quarterback in the league. 
 

Film

Here’s some screenshots from the Broncos/Seahawks game that highlight the pressure Manning was under in Week 3. 
 
This screenshot shows that Manning is getting pulled to the ground by a defender while releasing the football. Scott says that he’s afraid to stare down the barrel of a gun….this is about as much barrel as you can get—and this is not the only example from Week 3. 
 
 
Here’s another play where Manning is getting smashed as he releases the ball. 
 
 
This is the play most Broncos fans were upset with because there was no flag on the play. Right after Manning releases the ball, both Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett come crashing down on him. Wagner wraps him up properly, but Bennett takes to the air, grabs Manning’s head and brings him down forcefully. 
 
So how exactly did he not stand up to the pressure? Scott clearly should have done more research before running his mouth. 
 
 
Scott says the Seahawks were playing prevent defense in the fourth quarter, yet here’s one of several plays where they line up with six defenders in the box showing blitz (five actually rush). 
 
 
Here we see Manning wait for Demaryius Thomas to come open at the back of the end zone for the game-tying 2-point conversion. A “scared” quarterback would feel “ghosts” and likely try to force the ball to the underneath receiver early. Manning stood tall, and he waited patiently for the right throw. 

Summary

Bart Scott was a fine player known for a tremendous work ethic, but as an analyst he’s being lazy. The “Manning/Broncos are scared” card is overplayed by people who aren’t paying attention to what actually happens on the field. Scott is clearly one of those people. 
 
Some former players are FANTASTIC analysts, while others choose to say “bold/daring” things in order to draw attention to themselves. It’s neither bold nor daring (although I’m sure some may fall victim to that trap) to say the Broncos are “scared” of the Seahawks.
 
Simply put, any such opinion is grossly misinformed. 
 

 

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