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Broncos in trouble with Peyton Manning’s weak arm

To watch Peyton Manning on Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers was troubling if you root for the team from the Mile High city. The Denver Broncos have high hopes for the 2015 season, with a new head coach in Gary Kubiak and a system that favors a more balanced offense.

However, if Denver is going to make strides toward a second Super Bowl appearance in three years, the narrative must include Manning playing solid football. Against the 49ers, Manning’s arm was noticeably weak, leaving plenty of yards on the table. Twice, Manning had Demaryius Thomas open for a touchdown (once moreso than the second time) and the results were an incompletion and a brutal interception.

Even in Kubiak’s system, Manning still must be able to throw the football with some authority. The 39-year-old looked like he had no ability to drive the football on short throws and his longer throws lacked any kind of spiraling motion. It has been reported this offseason that Manning is wearing gloves because he can’t grip the ball well, while the quarterback has also revealed he has no feeling in his fingertips as a result of four neck surgeries.

Denver has the pieces to be a force, but if Manning can’t improve upon his performances throughout the preseason, the Broncos won;t be repeating for a fifth consecutive year in the AFC West. The division is much better than in recent years, with both the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers looking like double-digit win teams. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders are not going to be making the postseason, but expect a much-improved group under Jack Del Rio.

The major hope in Denver is that the running game and revamped defense under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can mitigate the arm-strength losses of Manning. C.J. Anderson is the prefect back in Kubiak’s system because he can both run between the tackles, get to the outside and catch the ball. On the other side, the defense is led by outside linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. The obvious weakness is against the run, where an undersized defensive line will have to stand up and force teams into second and third and longs.

Ultimately, Denver is looking at its last seaosn of contention for at least a few campaigns. After 2015, there is a very good chance that general manager John Elway will be moving on from left tackle Ryan Clady, corner Aqib Talib, Ware and Manning. With all those names out the door, the Broncos will be going to a youth movement with Brock Osweiler and Thomas as the main stars of the show.

The time is now for the Broncos to make one last run at the Lombardi Trophy before the tear-down begins.

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