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Peyton Manning still is driven

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws against

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of a game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Denver. Photo Credit: AP / Joe Mahoney

As controversy continues to swirl around struggling Jets quarterback Geno Smith, and calls for him to be benched continue to grow louder, the coach on the opposite sideline for Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium can breathe easy that the quarterback position is not a problem.

Broncos coach John Fox says he won't look over at Jets coach Rex Ryan and thank his lucky stars that he doesn't have to rely on an inconsistent second-year quarterback who cursed at a fan and showed up late to a team meeting.

"Well, I appreciate the guy I have, regardless," Fox said.

It's easy to say that when the guy you have is Peyton Manning. At 38, Manning is playing as well as ever. He threw his 500th touchdown pass in last week's win over Arizona and has totaled 12 touchdown passes and only three interceptions in four games this season.

Manning has thrown 503 touchdown passes, five short of Brett Favre's record. With the way he and the Broncos are playing -- combined with the struggles of the Jets' cornerbacks this season -- there's at least an outside chance he could tie or break the record Sunday.

Not that Manning is expecting an easy time against the Jets' secondary.

"To me, if you're in the NFL, you're a good football player," Manning said of the Jets' defensive backs. "I've played with guys that had a first-time start, or have elevated a guy off the practice squad that week, and the guy went out and played well. There's all NFL players out there on the field. So no matter who you're playing against -- a guy that's third-team on the depth chart or coming off the practice squad -- they're still in the NFL for a reason. You've still got to go out and execute and do your job."

Doing your job is what Manning, in his 17th NFL season, is all about.

Former Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, who signed with the Jets as a free agent during the offseason, described Manning as a player-coach who would watch game video with coaches and install plays that he thought would work.

"He's kind of, as advertised," Fox said of Manning. "I mean the guy works at it. On Tuesday, (the NFL mandated players') day off, he's up here meeting with the coaches, and getting the game plan early. He might be the best time management guy I've ever been around, and it's like anything: you get out of it what you put into it, and he puts a lot into it."

"He's the best I've ever seen at preparation," Ryan said of Manning. "The preparation's unbelievable. The skillset's great, and the fact that he can -- I don't care what the play is that comes in the huddle, he's going to change it to what he thinks is the best play - so he's smart. The challenging thing, you're going against, gosh, Bobby Fischer, I guess, as far as a chess game's concerned, or something.''

It's that attention to detail that makes Manning so great to work with as a receiver, Decker said.

"The guy doesn't get lackadaisical with anything he does, from the film room to the weight room, to walk-throughs, to on the field -- everything is done with a purpose," Decker said. "Every motion he does is again for a purpose to have success on Sundays."

But Manning doesn't hold only himself to a high standard; he demands that his teammates work as hard as he does and execute on the same level he is on.

When he's going through all those pre-snap adjustments and calling the play at the line of scrimmage, the receivers, and everybody else, had better be on the same page with him.

"If you don't know what you're doing, you're not going to be on the field with him," Decker said. "You stay on your toes, you stay ready for whether it's a check, whether it's a dummy call; you gotta know what he's doing if you want to be on the field and play."


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