Polian: Manning will be 'great' in Kubiak's new offense

CANTON, Ohio -- Much has been made this offseason about Peyton Manning's fit in the offense of new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak.

After going his entire career with the playbook he developed alongside former Colts coordinator Tom Moore, Manning will be asked to mesh those principles with Kubiak's run-heavy scheme. Bill Polian sees only success ahead for his former quarterback.

Set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night, the former Colts general manager told Around The NFL on Friday that analysts have overblown the differences between Kubiak's attack and Manning's beloved collection of plays.

"They're going to make Kubiak's offense work, and here's why: Because it's based upon the run and the play-action pass," Polian said. "If you go back to our best days in Indianapolis with (running back) Edgerrin (James) and (wideouts) Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne), it was based on the run, the stretch play, and then the play-action pass off that, and then the three wide receiver set -- and then what we did in the gun with the threat of the draw play."

The Manning-Moore scheme was insanely productive and equally simple, with a playbook that called for the fewest concepts of any offense in the NFL. As Chris B. Brown wrote in his new book, *The Art of Smart Football*, "by using a small number of personnel groups -- typically either three wide receivers and a tight end, or two wide receivers and two tight ends -- it limited the number of possible responses from the defense and made it easier for Manning to diagnose its weak spots."

After a 2-3 start during Manning's first season in Denver in 2012, then-offensive coordinator Mike McCoy wisely junked the team's "meshed" offense for the scheme Manning made sing in Indy. The results, obviously, were phenomenal. So why mess with what works?

"Kubiak's offense is really conceptionally no different, and (Manning will) be great at it," Polian said. "He's a great ball-handler, he has a great ability to carry out fakes. He has no peer when it comes to selling a fake and then coming and focusing on the defense, so he'll be wonderful.

"The only thing he can't do that Kubiak featured over the years is the bootleg," Polian said. "He can't run with the ball, but he'll boot it and throw off the boot. The only thing he doesn't have is the running."

But Manning does have the help of his backs, who are going to pound the ball this season. Broncos general manager John Elway vowed that C.J. Anderson, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman would be there to provide balance to an attack that has lived off the pass in recent years, saying: "Late in my career, that was my best friend, the running game. And I think that running game will be Peyton's best friend also."

After watching Kubiak work wonders with Joe Flacco last season, we're not overly concerned about the playbook. It's Manning's waning arm strength and durability at age 39 that hang out there as larger worries, even with Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas saying Peyton's passes have "more zip."

If that holds true into the season -- and into the winter -- the Broncos still have a legitimate shot at Super Bowl 50. If Manning's body can't cut it, it's curtains for Denver.

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