Focus on: Peyton Manning

Posted Jan 20, 2014

The Seahawks’ Super Bowl matchup with the Denver Broncos is two weeks away, but it’s never too early to start preparing for everything future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning will throw at them.

During his news conference on Monday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked about the Denver Broncos having five players who scored at least 10 touchdowns during the regular season.

“That’s crazy, isn’t it?” Carroll said. “That’s crazy numbers.”

Yes, it is. But it’s also the Seahawks’ reality for next two weeks as they prepare for their Feb. 2 matchup against the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.

There’s wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who caught 14 TD passes during the regular season and has added two more in the postseason. There’s tight end Julius Thomas, who caught 12 TD passes during the regular season. There’s wide receiver Eric Decker, who caught 11 TD passes during the regular season. There’s slot receiver Wes Welker, who caught 10 TD passes during the regular season and has one in the postseason. There’s running back Knowshon Moreno, who ran for 10 TDs and added three more receiving during the regular season.

Then there’s the common thread that binds them all: Peyton Manning, who rewrote the NFL’s single-season passing records in his 16th season and has a bust waiting for him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame five years after he finally retires.

The greatness of Manning, and the confounding things he can do to even the league’s No. 1-ranked defense, is obvious to Carroll.

“Nobody has ever taken more command of the game than he has, at this stage of his career,” Carroll said. “And the coaching staff has allowed that to happen, where he can be in total command of what’s going on. I think that’s great football, because guys have to play it.”

And that’s coming from a coach.

“The coaches do so much,” Carroll said. “We call everything for our guys. And most teams do that. We’re calling formations and plays, and you let them know what the options are and all that. That works well.

“But when the player’s doing that, now you’re delivering it right from the source of the guy who has to function. I don’t know if you can ask for more than that. I think it gives you the best opportunity, if you have the right guy, to get the most out of every play. I think that’s what Peyton is famous for now. He sees every defense. He knows all of his options. He makes his decisions all the way through the last second. Fixes it and changes it and adapts, to give him the best opportunity – what he feels he can do the best.”

With Manning, the proof is in the production: 5,477 passing yards and 55 TD passes, while completing 68 percent of his passes (450 of 659) during the regular season; 630 yards and four more TD passes, while completing 72 percent of this passes (57 of 79), in two playoff games.

“This is a very rare illustration of that,” Carroll said of Manning being not only at the controls, but in total control. “There aren’t many guys that have ever played the game that could do that. In the old days, quarterbacks called the plays. But they had, like, a couple formations.

“So this is thrilling to have a chance to go against the best guy that’s ever played. This is a cool challenge.”