Is Peyton Manning having a down year?

That’s been the assertion by many. We’ve covered a lot of the reasons why that might be the case (a very difficult early schedule, line troubles, no run game, dropped passes, the knee, Marvin Harrison’s troubles). There’s only one big problem…it’s not actually true. As always…numbers can help. These are Peyton’s projected stats for 16 games this year:

Att Comp % Yards TD Int YPA Rating
2008 (proj) 374 608 61.6 4109 27 14 6.8 86.6

Here are Manning’s stats for the last 9 years (rookie year excluded)

Att Comp % Yards TD Int YPA Rating
1999 331 533 62.1 4135 26 15 7.8 90.7
2000 357 571 62.5 4413 33 15 7.7 94.7
2001 343 547 62.7 4131 26 23 7.6 84.1
2002 392 591 66.3 4200 27 19 7.1 88.8
2003 379 566 67 4267 29 10 7.5 99
2004 336 497 67.6 4557 49 10 9.2 121.1
2005 305 453 67.3 3747 28 10 8.3 104.1
2006 362 557 65 4397 31 9 7.9 101
2007 337 515 65.4 4040 31 14 7.8 98

These are the averages for those seasons:
Att Comp % Yards TD Int YPA Rating

349 537 65.1 4210 31 14 7.8 97.2

Observations:

  • Manning’s completion percentage has been lower than in previous years. The Colts have also dropped more passes than any of us ever remember. Marvin Harrison has only caught 51% of passes thrown to him as opposed to numbers around 70% in his best seasons.
  • Yards, TDs and picks are all completely within normal ranges. 27 TDs is ‘below average’ only if you count 2004. 2004 aside and Manning throws 29 TDs a year. His interception % is actually LOWER this year than average due to what would be a record number of throws and a typical number of picks.
  • His YPA is legitimately lower than ever. He also has had no running game at all. This has lead teams to play deep all season and not respect the play action.
  • His rating is lower than some years, but on pace with what he did in 2002 when he took a 10-6 team to the playoffs in Dungy’s first year.
  • These projections assume a steady pace for the rest of this year. As we’ve noted, the Colts schedule was front loaded with tough pass defenses. It is likely that Manning’s final numbers will spike significantly by the end of the season. While I doubt he can get his final completion percentage to 65%, he most likely will get his rating up over 90, and has a good chance to get his YPA well over 7.
  • His numbers look very similar to his first 4 years when he only had one reliable WR. Reggie Wayne began to emerge in 2003 (and wasn’t a force until 2004). That was when Manning’s efficiency stats jumped to another lever. It’s clear that Harrison’s struggles this year have hurt Manning’s numbers.

So the next time someone tells you how funny it is to see Manning struggle this season, just point to the numbers. Most of them are fairly normal, and the ones that are low are likely to rebound. It’s too early to call this a successful season, but by the end, it will likely be a fairly ordinary one statistically, and an extraordinary one given the context of the season.
Links:
More blips on that radar. Adam Schein says Manning is #2 on his MVP list and is currently underrated.
The Polian corner addresses the play of Ugoh. He sounds pleased, but he talked that way about CJ at LT too. Ugoh has been up and down some, but there is no question that his return has solidified the O-line.

Edge wants out of AZ.
So sad. Who can blame him really?

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