The Denver Broncos are undefeated on the season, but that didn't prevent Gary Kubiak from having to respond to questions about whether he thought about benching star quarterback Peyton Manning following Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.
Kubiak was asked if it is time to play Brock Osweiler, to which he responded, "No, Peyton is doing just fine," according to Lindsay Jones of USA Today.
It's kind of a crazy question to be asking at this point in the season (or ever, really, with Manning under center). The Broncos are 5-0 on the season, already with a pair of wins over AFC West opponents. The games have been close, and Manning has been far from perfect, but the thought of him being replaced by anyone, let alone Osweiler, just seems ridiculously silly.
But let's talk about his struggles.
Against the Raiders, Manning had one of the worst games he's ever had, completing 22 of 35 passes for 266 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He moved the ball down the field, but the Broncos still had issues putting points on the board, and Manning's turnovers did almost sink the Broncos in the end. The Raiders are a team with a questionable ceiling, but the Broncos were supposed to dominate.
On the season, Manning is definitely looking at one of his worse seasons, but it hasn't been disastrous. He has completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,234 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions. The latter stat is the most concerning, given that he tossed just 10 interceptions all season in 2013 and is well on his way to eclipsing the 15 he threw last year as well.
Another eye-catching Manning stat this season is his 6.5 yards per attempt. That matches his lowest ever YPA, set during his rookie season in 1998, and is his lowest YPA mark since he finished with 6.9 in 2010. Some of that can be attributed to his declining arm strength, as well as a quarterback smart enough to recognize the shots he just can't take anymore with much certainty.
He's not getting much help from his offensive line, either. Manning's been sacked 12 times already this season. That puts him on pace to be sacked 39 times, which would be the highest total of his career, if he makes it a full season.
But he's still Peyton Manning. The guy has thrown for 70,000 career yards and over 500 touchdowns. He threw 39 touchdowns last season, and the Broncos wouldn't be the same team without him, even if he's not the primary reason the team is winning games at this point in the season. Manning can be a difference-maker, and right now, yes, he needs more help from his defense than he usually does.
The defense is coming through for him, it's important to remember. The Broncos have the No. 1 defense in the NFL currently. They're defending the pass well, stopping the run and getting to the opposing quarterback. Manning's job is easier today than it was a season ago, and replacing him now would be silly.
And Gary Kubiak knows it.
* * *
SB Nation presents: Jay Cutler is still the best QB in Bears history