Young receivers (Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas) and cornerbacks (Chris Harris, Tony Carter) blossomed under Manning’s tutelage. Tailback Knowshon Moreno revived his career. Guard Zane Beadles broke through in his third season and linebacker Wesley Woodyard did so in his fifth. Von Miller, last year’s top defensive rookie, became a bona fide superstar, and several veterans such as Stokley looked young again.
Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the architect of the hybrid offense Manning ran so adroitly in putting up numbers that surpassed those from all four of his MVP seasons, is such a hot head coaching candidate that he’s holding his very own jobs fair this weekend in Denver, meeting with one team after another.
Manning helped them all do their jobs better over the last 10 months.
It all began in the spring on local high school football fields with receivers working hard at not rounding off their routes lest they get an earful from No. 18 and then at team headquarters with cornerbacks picking Manning’s brain to figure out how he was picking them apart.
It grew fast from there, the Broncos getting better and bolder by the week as the 36-year-old quarterback put to rest any lingering doubts about his health or age.
The Broncos’ offense rose from 23rd in the league last season to fourth, and Denver’s defense jumped from 20th to second. They scored 481 points a year after scoring 309. And their defense allowed 289 a year after yielding 390.
“Well, it makes you grow up faster because, for one, he’s not going to let you get away with constant mistakes,” Champ Bailey said. “Maybe one here, one over there, but the same mistakes over and over, he doesn’t want you in there. And that’s the same way on defense. You make too many mistakes, you’re not going to play.”