So Much for Denver being a Run Team – Peyton Manning takes over

manning-vs-chiefs-1With a run-obsessed coach in Gary Kubiak, and Peyton Manning now 39, this was supposed to be the year that the Denver Broncos transitioned to a ground team. After all, Kubiak is the same guy who’s coached 10 teams to top-5 rushing totals in a season, and he also engineered incredible seasons for Terrell Davis, Arian Foster and Justin Forsett. But following a first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday where Denver failed to get on the board, the playbook went out the window and Manning took over.

The future Hall of Famer finished 26-for-45 passing with 256 yards and 3 touchdowns. Most importantly, he guided the team 80 yards down the field in the fourth quarter to tie the game with a hostile crowd chanting against their every move. So much for this being the year that Manning handed the ball off to C.J. Anderson for four quarters – No. 18 is still in firm command of this team.

This 80-yard drive would pave the way for Bradley Roby’s game-winning, 21-yard fumble return. But even after Roby’s incredible play, one couldn’t help but think about the reason why they were in this position in the first place.

“Peyton was so calm in the huddle on that drive,” Anderson said about the game-tying march. “You got to see what he’s still got.”

manning-vs-chiefsAt this point in his career, Manning is not going to set any personal single-season records. He’s getting older, his arm is a little less strong, and this isn’t the best offensive line that he’s ever played behind. However, you don’t just cast away 18 years of NFL experience from a guy who’s done nothing but win in his NFL career. When the game is on the line, Manning will be the one making the tough decisions.

Once Kansas City jumped out to a 14-0 lead, the gunslinger scrapped Kubiak’s short routes and runs in favor of vertical passing routes. This allowed Denver to close the first half with two touchdown drives to knot the score up at 14-14 going into the half.

The second half was again a battle, but one that Manning could keep up with, even against a vaunted KC defense that was playing at home. On a night where Ronnie Hillman and Anderson could only muster 61 yards on 21 carries, their signal caller had to bail the team out in what should be an all-important division game.

Who knows how far Denver will go this season with their new-look team. But if their 2-0 start is any indication, they certainly can’t be counted out of the Super Bowl picture. This is especially the case when considering that Manning has proved that he still has it.

Houston Texans Betting: Jadeveon Clowney drawing Major Criticism

jadeveon-clowney-texansThe Houston Texans were supposed to feature a nightmare pass rush for opposing quarterbacks. First off, they have JJ Watt, a mammoth 6’6″, 290-pound defensive end who’s generally regarded as the NFL’s best overall defensive player. And he was supposed to be backed up by outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who at 6’5″, 266 pounds, runs a blistering 4.53 forty for his size.

Unfortunately, Clowney has had no impact on the Houston Texans team this year. He’s missed six games due to a knee injury and had just one tackle in his return against Tennessee last week. This past Sunday he missed a game against the Eagles due to illness and caused some controversy when he may have liked a picture on Instagram during the contest.

Missing yet another game combined with the Instagram fiasco has now brought more heat from around the league. Nobody was more critical than Warren Sapp and LaDainian Tomlinson on Monday’s episode of Total Access Pregame. “We expect to see you on Sunday afternoon young man,” Sapp said. “Football is a great game in America and we all gather around to see the best of the best for 60 minutes each Sunday. And you’re disappointing us, and you’re wearing out your coaches and everybody down in Houston.”

NFL: 2014 NFLPA Rookie PremiereTomlinson believes that Clowney’s $22.3 million contract could be a huge source behind his lack of focus. “That’s a character flaw to me,” he said. “One thing we always try to preach about young athletes is giving them too much early, that’s what happens. They don’t want to work for it anymore.”

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport was also critical of Clowney on NFL GameDay Morning. “What they want is for him to start showing some maturity and learn to play through these some of these ailments,” said Rapoport. “As a source just mentioned to me, this is really the first time Clowney has faced any sort of injury adversity – didn’t really happen in college – and they want him to try to play through it in the NFL, but they’re frustrated with their No. 1 overall pick.”

As for the guy who matters most, Texans coach Bill O’Brien, he didn’t seem overly willing to talk about the situation. In fact, he indicated that the whole Instagram matter wasn’t even worth discussing after stating the following:

Yeah, he and I, like, we tweeted back and forth (Sunday) night. I went on Spacebook. He went on Twitter. … I mean, come – I don’t know, I don’t. You know? This guy wants to play football. He’s trying to get better to get back on the field. I’m not going down this Twitter road. I don’t even know what that is really, to be honest with you,” he went on. “Instagram: My kid was trying to talk to me about it last night. Like, ‘This is what Instagram is Daddy.’ I don’t know. We’re moving on from that. We’re moving on.

The Texans slide into their bye week with a 4-5 record and a falling chance of making the postseason. They are losers of 4 of their past 5 games and travel to face the 5-4 Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Contests against Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Baltimore loom ahead over the next two months. So they’re going to need everybody to step up, including Clowney. He’s now over the knee injury that sidelined him for six games and he has almost half a season to make an impact. But that’s not going to happen if he continues missing action with illnesses and worrying more about Instagram than learning from the games.