Peyton Manning's arm an issue? Hail yes

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning walks along the sidelines during a game against the Falcons at...

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning walks along the sidelines during a game against the Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga., Sept. 17, 2012. (TAMI CHAPPELL/Reuters)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:44 PM ET

Peyton Manning's arm strength is an issue after all.

It appears the Denver Broncos quarterback would have been pulled for rookie backup Brock Osweiler on Monday night, had Denver got the ball back to throw a Hail Mary pass, down six points in Atlanta.

Osweiler told the Denver Post Tuesday he "was going in for the Hail Mary. I'm not sure what the dividing line was as far as me going in, but I was getting ready to go in."

Broncos coach John Fox practically confirmed as much Wednesday in a conference call with Houston reporters, and he put a dividing-line distance on it.

"Had we had to throw a 60-yard Hail Mary, we might go with a 20-year-old arm versus a 36-year-old arm," Fox said.

On each of Denver's first three possessions Monday night, Manning threw bad interceptions on longish passes into the middle. The Falcons converted those gaffes into 10 points in a 27-21 victory.

Manning also threw other wobbly, or soft, passes.

Fox was asked by Houston writers about Manning's arm strength, a subject that has been burning up the NFL corners of the Twittersphere since Monday.

"I think his arm looked way better in the second half than it did in the first half, if that's what's being questioned," Fox said.

For his part, Manning had this to say when asked Wednesday by Denver reporters if he still possesses sufficient arm strength.

"I am what I am, it is what it is. Whatever expression is appropriate for that," he said, as quoted by the Denver Post. "So, I don't really know what to tell you."

Sounds like a deliberate non-answer, doesn't it.

My read?

As I've been saying since early in the pre-season, I'm skeptical that Manning's arm has returned to full strength following four neck surgeries since early 2011. Since Game 1 of the pre-season, his deep passes tend to flutter, and are often inaccurate. Throws anywhere, in fact, that need to be thrown hard often lack zip. Not always, but sometimes.

Manning didn't need to throw deep balls to beat the Steelers in Game 1. He did Monday, and couldn't make them.

Perhaps his deep-ball strength will return in the weeks ahead. Until then, it's an issue. For Manning and the Broncos.

JAY IS JAY, MOVE ALONG

Bears coach Lovie Smith was asked on a conference call with St. Louis beat writers about the Jay Cutler incident last Thursday, when the QB berated LT J'Marcus Webb for all the world to see.

"There are some things that happen during the course of every game in the NFL," Smith said. "If you had a camera there catching it all, there are some things that you would rather not be shown. I'll just say that.

"These are just minor things that are going on, believe me. We don't have any issues. Our guys aren't fighting in the locker room and all those things. Believe me -- it's football, things happen."

LB Brian Urlacher said he hasn't even seen video of the incident.

"I've seen a lot worse things (on) the sidelines," he said. "It's not a big deal around here ... we're moving on now."

Bears WR Brandon Marshall, who knows the QB better than most, didn't have a problem with it, either.

"What people need to understand is everyone's different," Marshall said. "Jay's who he is. Whenever you get outside of yourself, I think that's when you create problems. You have to be who you are. So when Jay is not fiery, that's when I'm gonna have a problem ... That's the guy I want to play for."

LUSTRE OFF GOLDEN HIT

The NFL fined Seahawks WR Golden Tate $21,000 for his wicked block on Cowboys LB Sean Lee, according to ESPNDallas.com. Tate wasn't flagged on the play, but he leapt to make the block, hitting Lee both in the upper mid-section and under the chin with his helmet. A new rule this year makes it illegal on a crackback block to strike a defenceless player either in the head or below the waist.

WILE E. BELICHICK

Bill Belichick, genius? Sure, in the class of Wile E. Coyote, maybe.

Arizona Cardinals defensive co-ordinator Ray Horton had the New England Patriots offence figured out cold last Sunday, he basically told an Arizona sports radio station.

Before tight end Aaron Hernandez hurt his ankle, the Pats ran the ball whenever Hernandez lined up as a traditional TE, tight to the line. Afterward, New England ran whenever quarterback Tom Brady lined up under centre, and always passed when he was in the shotgun.

After the game, when rival players exchange pleasantries, Cards kicker Jay Feely spoke with Brady, his college teammate at Michigan. Feely relayed their conversation back to Horton, who told the Doug & Wolf Show on Arizona Sports 620 (via ProFootballTalk.com) that Brady said, "I have no idea what you guys are doing" on defence.

"So it did work," Horton crowed.

FITZ NFL'S ONLY UNSACKED QB

After two weeks, only one starting NFL quarterback hasn't been sacked yet.

The Buffalo Bills' Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The Bills also lead the league in rushing, at 198 yards per game.

"We take pride in that as an offensive line," Bills guard Andy Levitre said Sunday. "Those are the only statistics we can gauge ourselves by, really."

Bills coach Chan Gailey was asked Wednesday what his veteran-laden OL is doing to protect Fitzpatrick so well.

"I think it has a lot to do with their ability, and their communication -- getting on the right people," Gailey told Cleveland reporters on a conference call.

"And it has a lot to do with Fitz getting the ball out (quickly), and putting them to the right spots where they can block the guys that need to get blocked (with his calls at the line). Defences are into fooling you quite a bit, and Fitz allows us not to be fooled."

SAN DIEGANS RECHARGED BY BOLTS? NOPE

The San Diego Chargers are 2-0, playing sharply on offence, exuding confidence ... and still can't compel the locals to give a hoot.

Perhaps it's because the wins came against two patsies, Oakland and Tennessee.

Or maybe San Diegans are just fatigued after years of hearing that head coach Norv Turner's ass is Epoxy-ed to the hot seat.

Or maybe some fans stopped caring after off-season reports that the team might be bound for Los Angeles, once someone there can figure out how and where to build a new stadium.

Whatever the reason, as of Tuesday some 11,000 tickets remained unsold for Sunday's home game against the undefeated Atlanta Falcons. That's 15% of Qualcomm Stadium's seating capacity (71,294).

Not good.

There's little hope that game won't be blacked out locally on TV, as the team has only until 4:05 p.m. EDT Thursday to sell out all non-premium seats.

Future home games aren't sold out either. Not even the Monday night tilt next month against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

"It has nothing to do with our sandy beaches," Chargers fan blog boltsfromtheblue.com asserts. "The Chargers don't have enough of a 'base' that they can guarantee a sellout for every home game, and that's half because we're a city of transplants, and half because the team hasn't had the couple of sustained playoff runs (to turn) fringe fans into season-ticket holders. Those things aren't changing for this regular-season."

EXTRA POINTS

No talks are taking place between the real refs and the NFL, according to ProFootballTalk.com. Wonderful ... Falcons RB Michael Turner apologized to his teammates for this DUI arrest early Tuesday after Atlanta's win on Monday night. "I've got to learn from it," he told reporters. Please, all NFLers. Learn from it ... Redskins WR Josh Morgan's bonehead unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which took the Redskins out of game-tying field-goal range at St. Louis on Sunday, said he "heard everything" by way of fan criticism -- "especially when they got you on Twitter and they start sending the death threats and wishing bad on your family and your first born and things like that," he told the Washington Times. Yeesh.

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

blogs.canoe.ca/krykslants/


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