There’s no point in sugar coating it:
The Colts would have won each of their last three losses if Peyton Manning had played better.
That’s not to place all the blame on him, but against three elite teams (and the Chargers are statistically there), Manning made a series of ill advised throws.
Is he under pressure? Yes. Are his receivers letting him down? Yes.
Are the picks still his fault? Many of them, yes.
Last night, the Colts opened the game with a textbook first drive. The team came in well prepared and ready to play. They had a workable game plan on offense and defense. The coaches had100% done their job.
Then, with a 7-3 lead, Peyton Manning threw a TERRIBLE interception. Was he under some rush? Sure. But the truth is that Manning is pressing. He is playing like the weight of the world is on his shoulders, and if he doesn’t lead the offense to a touchdown on every drive, they’ll lose the game. He’s not throwing the ball away on third down. He’s not living to fight another day.
The defense allowed 22 points to a great offense despite constantly facing short fields. If you had told me the D was going to hold the Chargers to 22, I would have been sure the Colts would win.
I fully recognize that the second pick wasn’t Manning’s fault. He was spun around as he threw (thanks Charlie Johnson!). The third pick was the result of an egregious no call, but it was also a stupid throw that didn’t look like it had much chance of being completed. Manning is playing like the 2001/2002 Peyton Manning who knew he had to throw constantly and tossed up a lot of interceptions.
There are tons of issues with this team. It’s amazing how the line has fallen apart since the loss of the two tight ends and Addai. This line was getting a lot of help from Addai, Eldrige, and Clark. Losing all three of them (not to mention Collie), has exposed the tackles as woefully inadequate (euphemism for “turnstiles to hell”). The switch to Linkenbach has also made the line visibly worse. The wideouts continue to under-perform. Garcon mostly played outstanding, but still blew a deep ball by inexplicably slowing up. Meanwhile Reggie Wayne had one of the worst nights of his career. Blair White, while scrappy simply is not fast enough to stretch the defense vertically up the seam.
No, he’s not getting any help, but none of that changes the fact that if Manning simply throws the ball away on the first pick of the game, the whole game unfolds differently. Beyond that, his second pick six (which looked like it came on the same route as the first one) was another low percentage throw. Pass interference or not, it wasn’t a good decision.
Manning’s problem is that he’s trying to do too much. The Colts have needed perfection from him, and he hasn’t delivered.