It was about this time a year ago that the football following world buried Tom Brady after he turned the ball over three times in a 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football that dropped New England to 2-2. At that point in time, Brady had completed 59.1% of his passes with a 4-2 TD-INT ratio and a passer rating of 79.1.
You know the rest of the story. Brady and Co. came out and throttled the Cincinnati Bengals the following week, finished the season with a 12-4 record and won the Super Bowl. Brady was MVP of the Super Bowl.
Through three games this year, some of the same sentiments have emerged regarding Peyton Manning. It hasn't been to the same degree, perhaps a function of the Denver Broncos perfect 3-0 record. But even still, some are questioning Manning's deep-pass ability, velocity, and other aspects of his game.
Some are questioning. One who isn't is Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
"It's hard for me to know about his arm strength or anything like that," Zimmer said on Wednesday. "All I know is that I saw him throw a 25-yard comeback with a 10-yard drop on a perfect throw on the sideline. I've seen him make plays down the field at the end of ballgames to Demaryius Thomas.
"He's extremely accurate, he gets the ball out very quick and he sees an awful lot of things. There's probably not a blitz that we can devise or that he has not seen. There's probably not a coverage that we've run that he has not seen and I'm sure that he'll go back and he'll look at tapes of when we played him before just like I've gone back and looked at his tapes."
There may be subtle differences in how Manning operates and what the offensive system around him is capable of doing. But at the end of the day, Zimmer says, Manning is still Manning.
"In Denver, he's changed a little bit in some of the things they're doing, but to me he hasn't changed," Zimmer said. "He still looks like Peyton Manning, he still looks like the things they're still doing in the no-huddle. It might be a few different run plays than what they've had in the past. I think the cast around him is different obviously, but I don't know, he still looks the same to me, he really does."
As is always the case with coach Zimmer, the game tape only reinforces what he's saying. Our film study of Manning's first three games of the 2015 season confirms that Manning is still as good as it gets at the QB position.