NEW YORK, New York, Mar. 9, 2013-- Unlike the emotional press conference that capped off Peyton Manning’s departure from Indianapolis, Peyton Manning’s retirement involved no pomp and circumstance. After a few weeks of pondering his future, Manning came to a quick decision. It pains many who watched Peyton in his prime to say this but Peyton’s arm was never the same after the spinal fusion surgery. In the end the only thing that could stop Peyton Manning was Peyton Manning. Ultimately, his body betrayed him.
While he still displayed the same football acumen of a Hall of Fame offensive coordinator, he was only able to summon the arm strength of ex-Jets quarterback Chad Pennington. The Jets quickly realized this and installed a more balanced offensive attack. It may have worked if the Jets had a solid running game to rely on. Unfortunately Shonn Green averaged a pedestrian 3.7 yards per carry.
The most disappointing point in the season came in Peyton’s triumphant return to Indianapolis. With the scored tied at 17 with four minutes to go, Peyton was only able to lead the Jets on a seven-play drive that resulted in a 47-yard field goal. Andrew Luck responded with a 10-play touchdown drive in the two-minute drill.
The defense salvaged a 10-6 season but Manning threw three interceptions in the Jets Wild Card round loss and the writing was on the wall. Thursday, Manning unceremoniously announced his retirement. Manning never had the most powerful cannon but he was unable to account for the water pistol that he was left with. The Jets porous offensive line didn’t help either after surrendering 40 sacks in the regular season.
Unlike Brett Favre’s faux-retirement from the Jets in 2008, Manning’s seems official. At times during the season, even after wins, he seemed dejected by his new reality. Manning could spend his final few seasons as a game manager but as humble as he naturally is, his pride wouldn’t allow him to plod along as an average quarterback handing off on first, second and sometimes third down. Excellence is Peyton’s standard. He’s used to pole-vaulting records, not limboing beneath the quarterback Mendoza Line with an 81.9 quarterback rating.
Manning won't catch Favre's records or approach Tom Brady's Super Bowl ring total but he will be remembered as a top five quarterback at his peak. The Jets didn't get the opportunity to benefit from Manning at full-strength. Ultimately, he returned to the NFL from his yearlong absence as a good quarterback but not a great one. That wasn’t good enough for him and it’s been more painful for Jets fan that can’t seem to catch a break. If the suffering New York Jets ever do receive a stroke of Super Bowl luck, it won’t be coming from Peyton Manning’s arm.