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Peyton Manning's still not "back"

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He's here - and he's winning football games. But Peyton Manning's got a long way to go - and that's bad news for the rest of the AFC.

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This is all harder than Peyton Manning though it would be.

Once it became clear that he would not be rejoining the Colts, the only team Manning had ever played for, the team that drafted him, the team with which he won a Championship, he knew that he would be starting over.  He wouldn't just be with a new team. He would be resetting a surgically repaired neck without the function of key nerves that send signals to that laser, rocket arm.

Peyton Manning's still not back.

The regeneration of those crucial nerves is an ongoing process. In a conversation with Peter King of Sports Illustrated Manning confessed that, while he's making progress from on week to the next, physically the QB still has a long way to go. “Some things are harder than they used to be," Manning said. "The game is harder".

That's not good news for the rest of the AFC.

Manning already leads the entire NFL in QB rating at 79.4. His brother, Eli, sits just below him in the QBR standings at 76.9. In terms of total passing yardage, Manning's season total of 1,808 trails only Aaron Rodgers' 1,979 - and Rodgers hasn't had his bye week yet.

Peyton Manning is making the most of his new opportunity in Denver. He is taking advantage of the Broncos' offensive weapons and, despite early concern about his arm strength, he's hitting them deep and in position to score. When Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas hold onto the ball and don't get tackled by invisible defenders, Denver's offense is a machine.

There's more to come.

Manning told Peter King: "It’ll be a tad better in two weeks, then a tad better two weeks after that. On game day, I get a little juice and feel pretty good. All I’m saying is, I still have strength to recover and rehab to do.”

Yes, the highest rated QB in the land will get better, week by week. As Manning regains his "feel" and his body continues to communicate with his mind more effectively we will see his throws become less wobbly and even more precise. He will be even more comfortable gunning passes down the middle and stronger with his long ball.

As the Denver Broncos march toward the Playoffs, as Petyon Manning gets stronger, the offense will continue to get more and more deadly. His confession to Peter King that he's not yet "back" is a warning to the rest of the NFL. The best is yet to come.


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