The signs were emerging early last year. With coaches and executives leaving Indy, Peyton Manning became frustrated with a disrupted routine. His routine would end up being shattered when the Colts cut him loose and he landed in Denver.
More than a year after the fact, Manning explains that change was the hardest part of a 2012 campaign that ended with a great regular season but a disappointing loss in the playoffs.
“I think the hardest part was when you’re so ingrained in one place, embedded in the city and in the community, and all of a sudden it changes,” Manning recently told Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports. “[Some of] these players that change teams and coaches a lot, I mean, they kind of get used to it. It’s probably not what you want to do as a player, but you kinda know how to do it.”
For Manning, it meant only the fourth new offense since his days of Friday night lights.
“It’s not only just one uniform and one city; it’s one offense. Up until that point, I’d played in three offenses — one in high school, one in college, one in the NFL,” Manning said. “I think Alex Smith has played in [seven NFL] offenses, which is not what he wants — I know he’s said that before — but you probably learn a little bit how to [adapt]. Unlearning an offense is very difficult.”
As a result, Manning said he felt “like a rookie in some ways” last year. Which means that this creature of habit will be feeling like anything but a rookie in 2013. Which means that Manning could be even better than he was during his first season in Denver, during which he led the team to 11 straight wins by seven or more points.
“This year, I have more of an idea of what to go off of,” Manning said. “I can say, ‘Boy, this is better than last year,’ or, ‘Hey, I know I can do this better ’cause I did it last year [when it was harder].’ I did play at a high level last year, and we really had a chance to win the whole thing, but there were obstacles. I certainly feel like I should be better this year.”
If so, Peyton could be crashing Eli’s stadium in February, two years after Eli won the Super Bowl on Peyton’s home field in Indianapolis.