The Bouncing Ball: thoughts on sports, vol 3

I’m gonna focus mainly on football this week…enjoy, and your thoughts (diplomatically rendered, of course) are welcome!

The thing about Peyton Manning’s offensive approach is that it’s got a long learning curve; as one of his new teammates put it, ‘his code words have code words’. Demaryius Thomas has alluded to how Manning can be difficult, and he’s always seemed like he can be a tough pill to swallow; add to that the fact that his highly complex approach is diametrically opposed to the style of their last QB, and his offensive teammates might take longer to adapt than people expect. Tim Tebow’s approach was driven by energy, emotion and physicality; his fallback strategy, under duress, seemed to be to cycle around the backfield until he got a lane to run downfield or someone sprung a leak and he could throw a neighborhood ball for a shockingly open receiver.

Peyton Manning’s approach is the anti-schoolyard approach, where he starts dropping code words and crazy-precise reads and verbiage on an O-line &receivers who just spent last season acclimating to the hit-and-hope approach of Tebow. Moreover, while Decker and Thomas are sorely underrated, neither is a jaw-dropper in terms of physicality; when you think about it, neither were Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Austin Collie or Pierre Garcon, but they all took a good bit of time to acclimate to Peyton’s system. Peyton is asking an entire system to overhaul and become the one he ran in Indianapolis; this is possible, and Thomas, Decker etc. are up to the task, but it’s not going to happen after training camp alone. Of course, there are other factors involved; Peyton has, for example, lost downfield arm strength, though he never really have a big-time cannon in his best days. But the biggest problem the Broncos are facing, I think, is that they’re been asked to turn into the Colts in the course of one offseason–then asked to finish the transformation while playing a pretty tough schedule. The Broncos might have to switch to the no-huddle for the entire game, and good luck doing that, the way the games have slowed down this year with the replacement officials still playing catchup themselves.

Speaking of the replacement officials, we know from my earlier blog entry that I think the situation is ridiculous. But let’s remember that the ordinary batch of officials made some real head-scratching calls, especially on replays and where ‘control to the ground’ plays were concerned.

And Bill Belichick really better get suspended for running up, angrily, on an official and attempting to manually turn him around as if addressing a petulant child. I mean, seriously. The NFL brass have shown they don’t really give as much of a crap as they say, but this would be the icing on the cake.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading, and enjoy Monday Night Football!

PW

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Paul West is a staff writer for Tarnation! Sports, and Through the Fence Baseball, and the author of First Cause: A Novel About Human Possibility.

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