ENGLEWOOD, COLO. (AP) - He’s shown plenty of arm strength and an ability to bounce back after a hard hit. Now, Peyton Manning and the rest of the Denver Broncos‘ sputtering offense need to work out the kinks.
In seven drives with Manning under center, they’ve scored just one touchdown and turned the ball over four times.
“We’re just lucky it’s preseason,” wide receiver Brandon Stokley said. “We’ll get back to work and we’ll work hard, like we’ve worked this whole offseason and training camp, and we’ll get better.”
The good news is that it’s the offense that’s flimsy, not his neck or arm.
Manning is deciphering defenses as well as ever, getting the ball out as quickly as he always has and he almost always makes the right read. He’s completed 67 percent of his passes and the Broncos (No. 10 in the AP Pro32) are moving the chains better than they ever did with Tim Tebow.
Yet, there’s still lots of work to do.
Five months into his comeback in Colorado, Manning’s timing with his targets isn’t where he’d like it to be. And the three teammates he has the most rhythm with _ wide receiver Eric Decker and former Colts teammates Stokley and Jacob Tamme _ have all made big blunders in the Broncos‘ two preseason games.
“It’s frustrating not to be able to finish,” Manning said.
All three of his intended targets took the blame, as did tight end Joel Dreessen for a ball that sailed way over his head and was easily picked off by Seahawks safety Jeron Johnson.
“I’ve got to find a way to make that catch, honestly,” Dreessen said. “I kind of stuck my hand up there and I was like, `I don’t know if I can reach it.’ I looked like I gator-armed it.”
Manning’s other interception Saturday night came when left guard Zane Beadles failed to engage defensive end Red Bryant, who reached both hands up and deflected Manning’s pass into the arms of linebacker K.J. Wright at the Seattle 9.
Ever the gentleman, Manning upbraided only himself.
“At the end of the day, they’re interceptions,” Manning said. “The quarterback signs the check on every ball he throws. There’s an old saying that the most important part of every play is to possess the ball at the end of that play. That’s the quarterback’s job. I have to do a better job of that.”
So for all those radio callers finding fault with Manning, he’s with you.