Denver executive vice president John Elway is fond of noting that the presence of Peyton Manning for the Broncos "raises all ships." But it also raises expectations, too, for the team's loyal fans.
And with Manning comes lofty expectations from the quarterback himself as well.
One of the benefits of having Manning is that he fully expects his teammates to be as obsessed with the pursuit of perfection as is he. And to be just as precise, even, as coach John Fox acknowledged this week, "that's a pretty high bar."
And some might suggest that's the lone downside with Manning, too. Even casual observers of the game are familiar by now with the Manning body language, the deep sighs and obvious frustration when a teammate doesn't quite measure up his standards.
"He expects everyone to treat the game and prepare the same way he does," Fox said. "He definitely sets the standard."
Some of his new teammates, particularly the wide receivers are going to have to clean up some old habits.
Neither of the projected starting wideouts, Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker, are regarded as great technicians. In fact, both third-year receivers have been criticized by coaches for running lazy routes, too often rounding off their patterns, and Manning will expect precision.
Denver quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow threw only 13 interceptions between them in 2011, one every 33.0 attempts. That's not much worse than Manning's career mark, an interception every 36.4 passes. But team sources acknowledged at the league meetings this week that many of the receptions came from sloppy routes, and conceded that Manning will not tolerate that.
"Those guys," allowed a team official, referring to the wideouts, "are going to have to get better."
Another starter who will have to up his game is center J.D. Walton. The two-year veteran snapper, has struggled a bit at times in the recognition aspect of the game, and will be counted on now to make most of the pass protection calls and switches.
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