The NFL is a quarterback’s league, and Peyton Manning went out last night and proved it.
Manning, at 37 years old mind you, absolutely dismantled the reigning Super Bowl Champs, the Baltimore Ravens on national television. The Broncos’ quarterback completed 27-of-42 passes for an astounding 462 yards and seven touchdowns, which tied the NFL record for touchdowns in a game.
He hit seven different receivers and threw two touchdowns each to wideout Demaryius Thomas, tight end Julius Thomas and wide receiver Wes Welker. He averaged 11.0 yards per throw and didn’t toss a single interception in those 42 tries.
Simply put, Manning was a surgeon, and he gave us a glimpse of what the Chiefs will have to deal with in the battle for the AFC West in 2013.
He also reminded us that the NFL is indeed a league dominated by quarterbacks. That’s a fact that Aaron Rodgers will certainly remind us of sometime this season, and the same could be said for Drew Brees Tom Brady and a few other quarterbacks in the league.
Outside of a few exceptions, if you want to win big in the NFL, you must have the right guy at the quarterback position.
For Chiefs fans, that has been an unfortunate truth for some while now.
The good news is, we in Chiefs Kingdom are experiencing a revival of sorts and at the very least, a new beginning. The Chiefs have a new general manager in John Dorsey, a new coach in Andy Reid, and yes, a new quarterback in Smith.
There are questions surrounding Smith in regard to his ability to be “the guy”, but at the very least we know he has the talent, and the experience. He’s been the quarterback of a very good team in San Francisco, he’s tremendously accurate and also has underrated athleticism.
Smith has the ability to get the ball to the play-makers that surround him, but he can also make a few plays himself. Though he may not exclusively look to throw the ball deep, he does have a good arm, and so far, he appears to have taken a leadership role on this team.
Smith is set up to have success in Kansas City, but now he has to go out and do it.
Starting Sunday, the wins and losses count, and all this talk about new beginnings and new attitude will mean nothing if the Chiefs don’t turn this thing around and win in 2013.
That will depend on the arm and shoulder of Smith.
We saw last night how an elite quarterback can truly take over a game, and that’s the type of competition the Chiefs will be facing this year. Kansas City plays the Broncos and Manning twice in 2013, but other notable quarterbacks who will show up on the schedule include Eli Manning, Matt Schaub, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers.
Say what you will about the Chiefs’ special teams, defense or running game. Their success in 2013 will be a direct result of whether or not Smith can prove to be as good as, or better, than those quarterbacks.
Taking that thought even further: If the playoffs and Super Bowl are the eventual goals—which of course they are—than the fact of the matter is that eventually, Smith will have to prove himself to be on the same level as the Mannings, Rodgers and Bradys of the NFL.
The standard is truly set high, but in order to win in the NFL, that’s the standard you must have for the quarterback position.
Manning’s seven touchdowns last night were essentially a statement to the NFL, but a message was sent to Smith as well.
He’s going to have to step up and become an upper-echelon quarterback if the Chiefs want to find success in this new era of Kansas City football.