Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning held a conference call with the Philadelphia media earlier in the week and addressed questions pertaining to Sunday's upcoming game against the Eagles in Denver.
In a matchup where the two teams only meet once every four years, all the coaches (except for tight ends coach Ted Williams) and most of the players on both sides have changed since the Eagles and Broncos' last game in 2009. For Manning, it is the first time he will face the Eagles since 2010, when he was still a member of the Indianapolis Colts. On a short week following Monday night's win over the Oakland Raiders, the decreased amount of preparation time for an out-of-conference foe has made things more difficult than usual.
"It's always a challenge with a short week playing an unfamiliar opponent with a new defensive coordinator," Manning said. "It's early in the season, so you're still not exactly sure what you're going to get, and it's not like it's a division game where you're very familiar with the players and the scheme."
As for Manning's initial impressions of Bill Davis' Eagles defense:
"I see a defense that's flying around," he said. "I see a defense that's stingy down in the red zone."
With the implementation of Thursday Night Football as a season-long showcase, there are issues with the amount of time teams get to prepare for one another and how that inherently impacts competitive fairness. Whereas the Eagles began game-planning for the Broncos immediately following their loss to the Chiefs last Thursday night, the Broncos could not begin their preparations for the Eagles until Tuesday.
"It's a challenge," Manning said of the scheduling. "Everybody has to go through it at some point, but it is a challenge. It's a physical challenge and a mental challenge. It's a grind all week, and every single repetition in practice and every second of a meeting and walkthrough are all crucial.
"It's the way it is. We have to handle it, we have to adjust to it. … We've known this schedule for a long time, and it's up to us to get ready physically and mentally."
The Eagles offense is the only one in the NFL that ranks ahead of the Broncos in yards per play, albeit by the slimmest of margins (7.0 to 6.9), and Manning feels the Broncos offense will be just as vital as the defense in stifling the Eagles' high-flying attack.
"Coach (John) Fox has made it clear that our defense is in for a tremendous challenge playing against (the Eagles') explosive offense," Manning said. "So from an offensive standpoint, we have to be on our game. We have to be executing. We have to protect the ball because if you give Philadelphia and Michael Vick and (LeSean) McCoy short fields, if you're not doing your job, they are capable of scoring a lot of points and a lot of points quickly. It makes for a tough, tough day."
Aside from the players who were with the Eagles on defense – Trent Cole, Nate Allen, Brandon Graham, Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson – when they last faced Manning, inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans went against him twice a season during his time with the Houston Texans. Ryans has a unique understanding of Manning's tendencies, and the quarterback respects his game.
"Smart player, real heady player," Manning said of Ryans. "He has a lot of experience and was the captain of the defense all the times I played against him. It's always a challenge going against him."
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