Now more than ever, Broncos should beg Peyton Manning to come help
In fact, it’s long past time. The Denver Broncos need to hire Peyton Manning in an official capacity.
Whether that be as a “consultant” like John Elway, or with a brand new title to assist GM George Paton, the team needs to bring him in now. Like, today.
Manning was in the house last Thursday night when his two former teams battled, as the Indianapolis Colts made their way to Denver and escaped with a horribly ugly 12-9 overtime win. As Manning sat in his luxury box at Empower Field at Mile High, he probably couldn’t help but wonder what happened to his two favorite NFL teams.
The Colts were good for a bit after he left, riding former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck as far as an AFC Championship Game. But once Luck abruptly retired, it’s been veteran band-aid after veteran band-aid in Indy. Matt Ryan is the latest experiment, and it sure as heck looks like he won’t work out.
And with the Broncos, you know the story. From Trevor Siemian, to Case Keenum, to Joe Flacco, to Drew Lock, to Teddy Bridgewater, nothing has worked to replace No. 18. And that’s only half the guys Denver has tried out at quarterback since “The Sheriff” called it a career.
The latest solution was Russell Wilson, a blockbuster trade orchestrated by Paton last March, that was supposed to fix everything. Paton gave up a massive haul and paid Wilson like Denver’s long search for a QB was finally over. But right now, it’s not working with Wilson. Not even close.
And while a lot of the blame falls on new head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who’s been a downright disaster through five weeks, Wilson hasn’t done his part. That was highlighted for the whole country to see against the Colts, when Wilson’s two brutal interceptions and a failure on fourth-down cost the Broncos the game.
Wilson may be battling a shoulder injury, but that’s not an excuse. Missing KJ Hamler wide open for the win was a mental issue, not a physical one. Something between Wilson, Hackett and offensive coordinator Justin Outten isn’t clicking.
That’s where Manning comes in. It’s one thing for him and Wilson to occasionally chat on the phone or exchange a text message or two. It’d be another to have Manning in the building every day, working with Wilson, Hackett and even Outten to figure this darn thing out.
It’d take a lot to convince Manning to do it, no doubt. He’s got a good thing going right now with his “ManningCast” on ESPN2 with brother Eli, “Peyton’s Places” and coaching his son’s flag football team. But the itch to make offenses great doesn’t just die overnight. And what Manning watched on Thursday night had to make his brain hurt.
He’s right down the road. Manning still lives in Cherry Hills, the same elite suburb that Wilson calls home. He’s also a 15-minute shot down I-25 to the Broncos’ facility. He’s stayed in Colorado for a reason, because this is home and he loves it here. Persuading him to help return the Broncos offense to a great level — heck even a competent one — should be Paton’s top priority.
If that doesn’t work, then it’s time for new CEO Greg Penner to take action. Offer Manning an ownership stake in the Broncos and see if that wets his appetite. The Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group (WPFOG) has shown no hesitancy to bring on new partners. And while they’re all qualified with unique and diverse backgrounds, none possess football expertise like Manning. He’d complete the WPFOG nicely.
Hackett may have gotten help with game-management when the team hired Jerry Rosburg, but this would be something different. Something broader — and something that would rally a fanbase that’s currently down in the dumps.
It’s time for Penner and Paton to ask Manning to come join the franchise in an official capacity again. And if that doesn’t work, it’s time they beg him.