I. Manning’s struggles = Broncos’ growth
When one loses a sense, the remaining reasons tend to sharpen to compensate. The Denver Broncos haven’t exactly “lost” Peyton Manning, but it seems the record-setting passer has moved on – and that’s acceptable.
For an extended period, Peyton Manning showcased his playmaking prowess.
From his early days with the Colts to his tenure with the Broncos, Manning served as the linchpin for critical plays so frequently that the team seldom adopted a winning strategy devoid of Manning’s brilliance.
And why would they? Manning’s performances were so exceptional that they often concealed glaring weaknesses. A similar scenario appears to be unfolding in Green Bay.
The running game has been neglected as QB Aaron Rodgers occupied the spotlight. Their overreliance on Rodgers is apparent.
Returning to Manning, the silver lining amid his “struggles” this season is that it has compelled other facets of Denver’s team to step up and discover new methods for securing victories.
We witnessed this transformation in their confrontation, and currently, the Broncos exhibit equilibrium.
The author believes that they are in a more advantageous position than the Packers to navigate their upcoming schedule.
II. Cam Newton is killing it
Amidst the rise of quarterbacks such as Colin Kaepernick, RGIII, Geno Smith, Cam Newton, and others, the NFL appeared to be embracing the era of running quarterbacks as its prospective future.
However, fast-forwarding to the present day, it becomes apparent that most of these experiments with running QBs, except Newton, have faltered.
Newton is flourishing within a college-style offense and bulldozing through defenses with his formidable running abilities.
Initially, there were doubts about the viability of this approach, but Cam Newton has proven to be nothing short of exceptional.
What sets him apart is his prowess not only as a runner but also as a passer, even with a tight end and some less heralded receivers.
Although concerns remain about the physical toll he might endure as the Carolina Panthers march into December, there is no denying that he has excelled as a dual-threat quarterback. This feat eluded many of his peers.
One of the most notable strides in Newton’s game has been his improved downfield vision.
He now dissects coverages like many of the more established pocket passers in the league, meticulously progressing through his reads before identifying a target.
This aspect has proven to be the stumbling block for many “running” quarterbacks in the NFL.
While the running part may be somewhat straightforward, the passing element is often considered rudimentary.
Cam Newton, however, is operating at an elite level in both facets of the game, even when working with a modest array of offensive weapons.
III. Culture, confidence, and belief
It is often said that winning can be infectious, just as losing can be. For more than two decades, the Cincinnati Bengals were entrenched in a culture of perennial defeat, a culture that consistently faltered against division rivals and on significant occasions. Why?
Simply put, they lacked a recent exemplar of resilience to draw upon during critical moments; there was no lofty standard or unwavering belief to lean on.
However, a transformative shift has occurred. Last Sunday, the Bengals orchestrated their third fourth-quarter comeback of the season – a remarkable feat.
Thanks to the combined efforts of Marvin Lewis and the front office, Cincinnati has shed its “Bengalized” identity. It now boasts an exceptional roster, bolstered by an even greater conviction that they are part of a particular season.
Culture, confidence, and belief have become potent driving forces.
The Bengals are reaping the rewards of a targeted approach to rectify the areas that had plagued them in recent years.
With upcoming home games against the Browns and Texans, the next pivotal challenge for them lies in maintaining their success and not underestimating their competition.
However, owing to the profound transformation in their culture over the past two months, there is ample reason to believe they will rise to the occasion.
IV. Whisenhunt fired
Having played four seasons in Nashville and maintaining numerous friendships in the city, the author can attest to the charming small-town atmosphere that characterizes it.
The people of Nashville hold a deep affection for their Tennessee Titans. While they may not demand victory as ardently as fans in New York or Philadelphia, they do anticipate players and coaches to become an integral part of the community.
This particular aspect of being the head coach didn’t sit well with Ken Whisenhunt. Consequently, just a year and a half into his tenure with Tennessee, Whisenhunt was relieved of his duties.
Whisenhunt’s demeanor came across as somewhat aloof within the community. He often appeared curt and unappreciative during radio appearances, giving the impression that his sole inclination was to isolate himself at the facility and focus solely on coaching.
According to sources the author consulted, this approach made losing an unbearable experience, and the usually laid-back fan base turned against him.
Former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher had endured losing seasons in Nashville as well, but he managed to engage in the “I’m one of you” narrative, giving him more patience from the fan base.
It’s not suggested that likability is the most crucial factor in a coach’s success. Still, it’s plausible that had Whisenhunt been more affable, he might have been granted additional time to orchestrate a turnaround.
While it may seem somewhat unconventional for such considerations to influence a coach’s fate, the author contends that they undeniably play a role in the decision-making process.