Written by Steven Wilson | Twitter: @stevenjwilson11
If there was ever a lock for the Hall of Fame, Peyton Manning would be a shoe-in. His storied career in Indianapolis may have been enough to earn a bust in Canton had the 17th-year pro hung up his cleats.
But, Manning is still putting together memorable moments now in a Broncos uniform. The test Sunday may seem daunting, as Manning and Co. host the Miami Dolphins, but it’s actually one players and coaches look forward to.
“As a competitor, you love to play against these guys,” said Dolphins Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle. ‘To be honest with you, it was nice… just watching on the couch [on Sunday] to see how difficult it is when you really watch how good these guys are, from a little different perspective. But I think for players and coaches alike, you get up for games like this.”
Manning has faced Miami ten times in his career, but the Dolphins have hung tough. The Broncos’ No. 18 is dead-even with 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in ten meetings versus the Dolphins. Miami has also racked up the third-most sacks (18) of any team Manning has ever faced − a stat that will be vitally important if the Dolphins hope to pull off the upset this Sunday.
“I think you have to mix it up because you don’t get to him very much,” said Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle. “Just like I said, he’s been sacked 11 times in 10 games, [last week] twice, one on a pressure that got to him and one where the pocket kind of collapsed on him. He’s a lot like the guys we played here recently that we talked about. Even last week, we had free runners coming on Thursday night and we didn’t get many sacks, but we affected the quarterback. We hit the quarterback. We knocked him down. We pressured him. We only ended up with two sacks and that was later in the game when they had to try to throw the ball further down the field and hold onto it a little bit longer. Other than that, early on, that ball was coming out and you could literally have guys rushing the quarterback unblocked and they weren’t going to get the sack.”
Coyle says he will pick and choose certain times in the game to send the blitz or add an extra rusher to the mix in order to get to Manning.
“You have to be smart on how you rush them because he’s going to get the ball out quick, but you want to affect him,” he continued. “You want to affect him by being up in his face. You want those outside rushers to be compressing the pocket on him and doing those kinds of things. Hopefully, you can get him to hold onto the ball because that’s the only way you are going to get a sack.”
The Dolphins will need the most from their defense come Sunday if they hope to slow down one of the most potent offenses in the game today. The results also hold playoff implications down the road.
“This is an important game,” Coyle said. “You’re playing an AFC conference opponent, we’re getting close to December, it’s late November, these games have a lot of meaning for us. Five out of our last six games are against AFC opponents. We’ve got a solid AFC record right now, but yet we’ve got to keep building on it. These games mean a lot.”