How Peyton Manning Became an Elite Passer
By John Shea
The Denver Broncos are Super Bowl bound for the first time in 15 seasons because of their high-octane offense, led by All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning. The Broncos wouldn’t be on the brink of a championship if it weren’t for their legendary signal-caller, who consistently demonstrates uncanny throwing mechanics in the pocket.
Manning showcases an unprecedented ability to read the defense at the line of scrimmage and relay hot routes to his receivers before the snap, often outsmarting coverage schemes. But Manning’s flawless throwing mechanics are what enable him to be extraordinarily successful.
The four-time NFL MVP became a champion by perfecting the three key elements of quarterbacking: vision, flexibility and footwork. These physical and cognitive attributes are crucial for quarterbacks to master in order to become elite at their position. All three elements can be enhanced by utilizing certain drills that emphasize the fundamental aspects of quarterbacking.
A highly successful quarterback is able to read the defense and recognize where his receiving target needs to be in order to deliver a catchable pass. To enhance vision, simulate a game situation where the quarterback uses a five-step drop and reads through his progressions in the pocket. Five receivers should be spread 10 to 15 yards downfield. To complete this drill, the receivers need to alternate tapping their chests, signifying to the quarterback that they’re open.
A quarterback that demonstrates efficient vision in the pocket should be able to deliver a pass on target to an open receiver while simultaneously reading through his progressions. This and other football drills teaches a quarterback how to avoid “telegraphing” pass attempts while also improving downfield awareness.
Overloading weight training regimens with arm and shoulder exercises is a common mistake that young quarterbacks frequently make during offseason training efforts. Increased arm strength is a product of stabilizing exercises rather than powerlifting. This means a quarterback should focus training efforts on improving flexibility and core strength. Medicine balls and resistance bands are the best type of training tools for this type of exercise because they improve rotational strength, which is needed in order to increase throwing velocity.
The most difficult element of becoming a highly efficient pocket quarterback is perfecting footwork. This component encompasses all aspects of the quarterback position, such as arm strength, drop-back mechanics and throwing accuracy. This is why practicing football drills are most vital to a quarterback’s success.
Manning’s figure 8 football drill is one of the most effective training methods for improving quarterback footwork. It requires a signal-caller to shuffle his feet in a figure 8 pattern while keeping his eyes focused down field and then making a throw. This drill enhances footwork discipline and also improves accuracy. It’s a fundamental component of becoming an effective quarterback.
Manning exemplifies expertise in each element of quarterbacking every time he takes the field, a practice of mastery that will be on display in Super Bowl XVIII