Share this article

print logo

Manning proof that an old dog can still learn new tricks

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Who said an iconic quarterback, at 39 the oldest ever to start in a Super Bowl, couldn't learn something new?

Who said a five-time NFL MVP, the presumed offensive coordinator and QB all rolled into one, would never be open to advice that would help improve his game?

A lot of us said that about Peyton Manning, even earlier in his 18-year career.

It took Greg Knapp to prove us wrong.

In his first season as quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos, Knapp was able to do something that previous coaches who worked with Manning never quite achieved by getting him to adjust his footwork.

"I made sure to do my homework before we ever sat down and talked to one another," Knapp told reporters as Manning prepares for what figures to be his final game, Super Bowl 50 Sunday against Carolina. "So I watched tape on him, I talked to coaches that had been around him, and kind of assessed, 'OK, where can I help improve his game?'

"In assessing that information, I felt like if I could get him to understand the importance of lower-body mechanics -- not change his throwing motion, but emphasize how important it is to get his body into his throws -- that's one way I could help his game."

Manning was open to any and all suggestions, having repeatedly asked Knapp, "What can I do to improve my game?"

Although his numbers were poor during his injury riddled season, he did make adjustments that presumably helped him perform at least well enough to come back from missing seven games to help the Broncos reach the Super Bowl.

"There's a distinct difference from earlier in his career when he'd drop back and stand and kind of pad his feet in position," Knapp explained. "Now, there's a little more rhythmic movement -- first hit, first read; second hit, second read, and so forth. He's always gotten rid of the ball pretty quick, anyways, but now I like to feel like I've helped him get that body weight transfer going into his throws.

"He'd talked to others about it, but they never were able to teach it the way I do. I don't know. Really, once he applied it, practiced during OTAs, no games to worry about, he saw the benefits of it and it just reinforced."

There are no comments - be the first to comment