Five weeks into the 2013 NFL season, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was so hot and so dominant that we were ready to crown him as the 2013 MVP and maybe even elect him to congress at the same time. Manning looked unstoppable.
But Manning's play has started to come back to earth the last few weeks. Here's a comparison:
As a result, Manning is no longer on pace to break single-season records for completion percentage or passer rating. He remains on pace to set a new single-season yardage record, but that stat is grossly overrated anyway and his edge over second-place Matthew Stafford has shrunk to 302 yards. He's also still on pace to break Tom Brady's single-season touchdown record of 50, but that pace is dropping quickly. He'd need to throw three touchdown passes per game during the second half of the season in order to tie said record, but that's all he's been averaging the last three weeks.
It's not as though Jacksonville, Indy or Washington have great defenses. In fact, two of those units are terrible. And it's not as though the absence of left tackle Ryan Clady has caught up to them. Manning's been pressured an average of 12 times per game the past three weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. That's not a lot. However, it is up significantly from an average of 7.6 during the first five weeks. So that's a small factor.
So what's going on here? Well, defensive coordinators have clearly adjusted. That helps, regardless of the strength of your D.
That, and a simple lack of execution, is all we're talking about here. Manning is good, but he isn't good enough to maintain that early pace. Nobody is.