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Mile High Morning: How Peyton Manning helped mold the quarterbacks of the future


The Lead

It isn't news to Broncos fans (or NFL fans, for that matter) that Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. In addition to a trophy case that is stacked with five MVP awards, two Super Bowl rings, an all-time passing touchdown title and a slew of Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods, Manning changed what it meant to play quarterback.

As the former Broncos QB heads to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend for a well-earned induction ceremony, Mike Wells of looks back at what made the offensive juggernaut nearly unstoppable during his career.

"Colts owner Jim Irsay often referred to the offense under Manning as putting up Star Wars-type numbers," Wells wrote. "The Colts finished in the top five in the league in yards and points per game in nine of Manning's 13 seasons. The Broncos, whom Manning joined in 2012 and finished his career with, did it in three of his four seasons with the organization."

Manning racked up impressive numbers season after season in the league, largely due to his exceptional understanding of the game and his innovative calls at the line.

Former Colts general manager and the man who drafted Manning first overall in the 1998 NFL Draft, knew how talented the rookie quarterback was, but he couldn't have known how much Manning would transform the position forever.

"Peyton changed how a quarterback was playing everywhere in football," Polian told, "because he controlled everything at the line of scrimmage."

Two things are certain when it comes to Peyton Manning – his tenure in the league helped to mold the quarterbacks of the future, and his induction into the Hall of Fame is well-deserved.

"That's his legacy," Polian said to, "the fact that he was able to control the game by a pre-snap look, play selection, post-snap execution all by himself with just game-plan help from the coaches -- it was a giant step forward for the position."

Below the Fold

ESPN's Mike Clay has ranked the NFL teams that improved the most this offseason, with Denver landing at No. 10 on the list.

The biggest boost to the Broncos' roster, according to Clay, comes on the defensive side of the ball. Denver bulked up on defensive back talent in the offseason, making an already formidable secondary (home to safeties Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons, for starters) even more dangerous.

The Broncos added free agent cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby during free agency, and then doubled down by spending their first-round pick on rookie corner Pat Surtain II.

"Defensive-minded head coach Vic Fangio now has veterans in Fuller and Darby," Clay said, "as well as first-round pick Surtain to go along with Bryce Callahan and last year's third-round pick Michael Ojemudia. It doesn't get much better than that."

It actually does get a little better defensively for the Broncos — the team will also see the return of Super Bowl MVP and all-around dominant defensive force Von Miller, who missed the duration of the 2020 season with an injury.

On the offensive side of the ball, Denver added rookie running back Javonte Williams in the second round of the Draft and acquired quarterback Teddy Bridgewater through a trade with Carolina. The Broncos will also add receiver Courtland Sutton back into the mix on offense after he missed the bulk of the 2020 season with an ACL injury.

After adding weapons on offense and defense this offseason, Clay believes the Broncos could be dangerous on both sides of the football.

"Denver has an outstanding defense," Clay wrote. "All 11 defenders who played at least 400 snaps last season remain on the roster -- and a terrific group of young offensive skill players."


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