Denver Broncos v Cleveland Browns
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 18: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos throws a pass during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)
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“Bench Manning” Campaigners on Social Media are Right

Social media comments of NFL fans: you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. But for the first time in sports history, the angry hoards of Facebook and Twitter might actually have a point.

After another lacklustre performance on Sunday, the Denver Broncos offense had to be bailed out yet again by its phenomenal defense en route to an overtime win against the Cleveland Browns. The blame has begun to turn to aging quarterback Peyton Manning, with a “Bench Manning” hash tag exploding on Twitter.

The numbers speak for themselves. After Sunday’s nightmare on offense, Manning leads the league with 10 interceptions. His unit has scored just 1 offensive touchdown in the last 32 drives, and it took Manning almost 50 passing attempts to reach 290 yards.

This writer predicted 2015 would be a season of severe regression for the 39-year-old, but few could have expected such a massive downturn in production.

Very often, such a drastic turnaround in QB play can be attributed to other factors on offense as well, but Manning doesn’t exactly have a wealth of excuses. His offensive line has been stout for the most part, his receiving corps is not known for dropping many balls and the running game was good for over 150 yards on almost 5 yards-per-carry in his last outing.

But it is Manning’s style of play that has dwindled, too. So many of his passes have lacked the zip and precision he is known for, and his tendency to stare down primary receivers instead of progressing through his reads resulted in three picks in Cleveland.

Many people will point to a beautiful 75-yard touchdown strike to Emmanuel Sanders – one play after a pick six, no less – as proof that Peyton still has it. But a more efficient quarterback would not have had to put himself in the position to mount that comeback in the first place.

The Broncos will stick with Manning for as long as his arm is attached to his shoulder, but at what point does it start to hurt the team? The defense will not find itself able to score at will against the conference’s heavy hitters, and when that time comes, the calls for a change at quarterback will be back, and in greater numbers.

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