The past 10 years saw the Denver Broncos experience highs and lows — and many of the highs came during the four years when Peyton Manning was part of the franchise.
The Broncos reached the playoffs in all four years that Manning started and twice reached the Super Bowl. Denver won it all in Manning’s final year in 2015. Though the Broncos dominant defense was the main reason they won, Manning’s presence under center and in the locker room kept the team focused on the task at hand.
So it’s not surprising that when Football Outsiders reviewed the top DYAR performances for quarterbacks by single game and by season, that Manning made both lists.
For both single game and season performances, one need only look to 2013, when Manning set franchise and NFL records for the most passing touchdowns in a single season.
Vincent Verhei ranked the top-20 single games for QB DYAR from 2010 to 2019 and Manning made the list twice. DYAR is an advanced metric utilized by Football Outsiders. What does it mean?
Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement. A Football Outsiders stat which compares the performance of each player, in terms of DVOA, to a replacement-level baseline rather than the league average for that position, then translates that total into yardage. Because DYAR is a total stat, not a rate stat, it helps show the importance of workhorse running backs and receivers who can draw the attention of the defense away from other players. DYAR replaced DPAR as our method for measuring individual players with the publication of Pro Football Prospectus 2008 in July 2008. The method and the computation of replacement level are discussed further here.
Back to Manning. He ranked 16th for his performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5 of 2013, posting a DYAR of 275.
Verhei notes that Manning went 6-of-7 on third down for 69 yards with a touchdown, with four converted for first downs and a fifth that would have been were it not for Eric Decker fumbling the ball.
The other game was ranked 17th, which was the Broncos’ season opener against the Baltimore Ravens that same year. Manning posted a -2 DYAR in the first quarter, but took off after that, posting 242 DYAR in the next three quarters.
In the Ravens’ game, Manning’s stats were eye-popping: 27-of-42 passing for 462 yards with seven touchdowns, no interceptions while surrendering three sacks. On the other hand, Verhei notes that Manning converted just 6-of-11 third downs, which kept his DYAR lower than it might have been otherwise.
Still, that takes nothing away from Manning’s performance overall — nor does it take away from his record-setting campaign in which he set a new single-season record with 55 passing touchdowns.
Manning posted a DYAR of 6,722 from the years 2010 to 2015. That was enough to put rank him No. 9 overall, despite other passers, ranging from Drew Brees to Matthew Stafford, having played all of the past 10 seasons.
On the other hand, Manning also appears on the list of the 20 worst games for quarterbacks as measured by DYAR for the last 10 years. He posted -233 DYAR in Week 10 of the 2015 season against the Kansas City Chiefs. Manning’s skill had diminished by that point, plus he was playing through the very foot injury that would cost him the next seven weeks.
Also appearing on the worst games by DYAR is Trevor Siemian, who posted a -238 DYAR against the Miami Dolphins in Week 13 of the 2017 season. Siemian had the dubious distinction of being the first QB that season to throw multiple interceptions against the Dolphins.
The Broncos have seen the best and worst of quarterback play in the past 10 years, but even when Manning wasn’t at the top of his game, there’s no question he made an impact on the franchise and the Broncos saw plenty of success under his leadership.
Now we turn the page to the 2020 season and find out whether Drew Lock can be the next quarterback to bring the Broncos back to the playoffs. Lock doesn’t necessarily have to hit record DYAR or other record numbers, though.
All he needs to be is the guy who can bring leadership to the field and keep the Broncos a playoff contender for years to come.