Broncos report: Eli Manning is elusive

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
7:00
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – There aren’t NFL personnel people lining up to talk about how they remember Eli Manning's workout numbers before the 2004 draft, at least the parts that didn’t include throwing the ball.

And yet throughout Manning's career, he has consistently frustrated the defenses trying to chase him. He has accumulated a surprisingly significant pile of plays that includes the David Tyree touchdown in Super Bowl XLII when Manning escaped the Patriots pass rush to make the play. The new age of sprinters with cannon arms like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III stress pass-rushers with the threat of the run, but the younger Manning stresses with his intent to throw after the escape.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Layne MurdochEli Manning has learned to extend plays by being elusive in the pocket.
“He’s probably deceivingly athletic, he’s not like some of the quarterbacks out there that are going to win a footrace, but he’s mobile enough,’’ said Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. “And obviously he’s very smart, got a great live arm, got a terrific cast of characters he distributes the ball to. He buys the time he needs and does the things he needs to, including with his legs, he’ll run for first downs from time to time. He’s mobile enough.’’

The Broncos have faced Manning twice previously, in 2005 (a 24-23 New York victory in Giants Stadium) and in 2009, a 26-6 Broncos win in Denver. In the ’05 meeting, a season the Broncos won the AFC West with a 13-3 record, Manning threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer with five seconds remaining in the game. The Giants went 83 yards in 15 plays on the game-winning drive and the Broncos did not sack Manning in the game.

In ’09 -- a Thanksgiving night game -- the Broncos sacked Manning three times.

The challenge Manning presents for opposing rushers is he has taken fewer sacks recently . He was sacked just 16 times in 2010 and 19 times in 2012 as compared to 30 times in '09. Former Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil said he believed Manning was among the league’s best at sensing pressure from behind and also efficiently escaped to keep himself in position to reset his feet to throw.

Del Rio has described them as quarterbacks who “escape with their eyes down the field.’’

In the Giants’ opener, a loss to Dallas on Sunday night, the Giants often let left tackle Will Beatty work in 1-on-1 situations while pushing the help and double-teams elsewhere along the offensive front. That could put Robert Ayers or Shaun Phillips in some 1-on-1 rush situations against Beatty.

  • In a week when the Broncos tried to, publicly at least, temper at some of the hoopla after a win that saw Peyton Manning throw seven touchdown passes, wide receiver Wes Welker joined the one-week-at-a-time parade Thursday. Asked if there could any similarities with what Peyton Manning does this season and 2007 when Welker was part of a Patriots offense that featured Tom Brady setting the NFL single-season record with 50 touchdown passes. “[You’re] talking about Week 1, there’s no telling at this point, it’s one game,’’ Welker said. “You’ve to do it every single game.’’
  • Peyton Manning isn’t the first Broncos quarterback to wear No. 18. In fact when Manning arrived in Denver after signing in free agency in 2012, the No. 18 was retired. The man who first wore the number for the Broncos -- the franchise’s first quarterback -- was Frank Tripucka, who died Thursday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Tripucka was 85. The No. 18 had been one of just three numbers the Broncos had retired, along with John Elway’s No. 7 and Floyd Little’s No. 44. Elway and Little are both Hall of Famers while Tripucka was put into the team’s Ring of Fame in 1986. Tripucka’s family, after a phone conversation with Manning shortly after Manning has signed in Denver, said they would “be proud’’ for Manning to wear No. 18. Tripucka had been originally hired as a coach when the Broncos began play in 1960, but it wasn’t long before the team could see he was the best option as its quarterback. He led the AFL in passing in 1960 with 3,038 yards and his 447 yards passing against the Bills in 1962 is still tied for the fifth-highest single game total in franchise history. Manning threw for 462 yards in last Thursday’s season opener.
  • The Broncos have plans for an indoor practice facility on the drawing board, but they could have used one Thursday. With widespread flooding throughout the state after several days’ worth of downpours, the Broncos took to the outdoors Thursday and practiced outside.
  • Center Manny Ramirez started 11 games at right guard for the Broncos last season and the team went 13-3 with an 11-game winning streak to close out the regular season. This season he is the starting center on a Super Bowl hopeful team who just got a two-year contract extension Wednesday. How is it Ramirez can do that with the Broncos, yet was released by the Lions after playing four games for an 0-16 Detroit team in 2008 and starting 12 games for the 2-14 Detroit squad in 2009? Ramirez said he was part of the equation after spending most of the 2010 season out of football. “But it (was) kind of like it put everything back in perspective as far as what you’ve done,’’ Ramirez said. “Have you done enough? At the time I felt like it wasn’t enough that I’ve done. I just felt like it was time to up my game or whatever my routine was, that it wasn’t good enough. I’ve made quite a few adjustments and they’ve worked so far.’’

Jeff Legwold

ESPN Denver Broncos reporter

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