Peyton Manning is joining the Denver Broncos. Now that the first domino has fallen, we'll see just how far-reaching his decision is. First, what happens to Tim Tebow?
The man who captured the imagination of the entire country (and not just football fans, mind you) with his leadership and ability to simply win games is suddenly the odd man out. Denver could keep him around as Manning's backup. But it appears not even Tebow himself thinks that will happen.
"I'm grateful to the Broncos for what they have done for me and will always have love and respect for the franchise," Tebow said when reached by text message. "I understand they need to do what they need to do."
Lots of pro athletes would say similar things, but very few would truly mean them. Tebow does. He's spending the week organizing a massive charity event for the Tim Tebow Foundation, which is building a children's hospital in the Philippines. (Side note: the project will cost just about the same as Tom Brady paid for his mansion in Brentwood. Any wonder why Tebow is imminently more likeable than Brady?)
So, Tebow will be inspiring someone else next season. Early reports are Miami, Jacksonville, Minnesota and Cleveland are interested. There is also supposed to be some "mystery team" that may jump in to the fray.
Now, the question we have in San Diego is ... What does this mean for the Chargers? It remains to be seen, but I'll offer up this analysis.
It's awesome for the Chargers!
Manning's career record against the Chargers is 4-5 (0-2 in the playoffs), one of just a handful of teams Manning has a losing record against. For whatever reason, San Diego has a whammy against Peyton.
"We've prepared well against Peyton," says Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano. However, that statement comes with conditions. "Those teams are totally different. It's really hard to compare Peyton Manning with the Broncos compared to Peyton being with the Colts. The success we've had against him, that was years ago, and it's going to be a totally different situation now with the personnel they have in Denver."
Manning is a guy who built his offense over several years in Indianapolis. Does Denver have the personnel, right now, to make his style of quarterbacking work in 2012?
"Yeah, they have the personnel to do that," says Pagano. "They've got good wide receivers, they've got good tight ends, they've got a great running game with what (Willis) McGahee did. It makes Denver very versatile in what they want to do with Peyton."
Tebow has been more of an issue, although granted in a much smaller sample size. Tim has only started twice against the Chargers, but his Broncos are 1-1 in those games. Plus, you could conceivably count his 3rd appearance against the Bolts a win. It was in Week 5 of last season that Tebow came in at halftime of a game the Chargers were winning handily and nearly led a monster comeback.
"The big thing about Tim is, he's a winner," says Pagano. "When he got his opportunity at the professional level it showed what type of excitement and passion he brought to the game. Was it a challenge defensing him? Sure it was because he's a mobile quarterback who can do a lot of things with his feet."
Tebow gave Chargers' defenders fits because he is more mobile than Manning. The San Diego blitz package has found ways to put intense pressure on Peyton, and he hasn't handled it well, throwing more interceptions that touchdowns against the Bolts. But Tebow can actually use that pressure to his advantage, getting away from rushers and running in to the open spaces where they used to be.
Manning does have winning records against the rest of the AFC West (the Raiders and Chiefs) so they aren't all that happy they have to deal with him twice a year. But in San Diego, this is actually a good thing.
Hopefully it is for Tebow, as well. Maybe he'll end up in a place where he'll be appreciated and have continued success.
"He's a pure winner," says Pagano. "Having that type of attitude he'll probably have no problem succeeding somewhere else."
It would be nice if that place is in the NFC, though.