Peyton Manning: Denver has to 'start over,' re-establish identity in '14

'Just because you were there [at the Super Bowl] last year doesn't guarantee you anything,' Peyton Manning said.
Damian Strohmeyer for SI

DENVER -- It's been 42 years since an NFL team has done what the Broncos hope to do next season.

The 1971 Miami Dolphins lost the Super Bowl. The next year, they not only returned, but also they came away victorious, and it hasn't happened since.

That's a long time. Peyton Manning hadn't even been born yet, and the Broncos' quarterback certainly knows the history, simply because he knows every fact that weighs in his favor and against it. That's why on Wednesday, speaking briefly before a Boy Scouts breakfast in Denver, Manning didn't stress continuity. He talked instead about changes, about reinvention, about establishing something different in 2014 for the team that fell four quarters short against the Seahawks in February.

"Just because you were there last year doesn't guarantee you anything," Manning said.

"You have to move forward," he added. "You have to kind of re-establish your identity as the 2014 team. 2013 was a good season in a lot of ways, there's no question. It did not end the way we wanted it to, but we have to build off that and try to take it a step further, try to finish. There's no question, we kind of have to start over and re-establish the chemistry on this team with all the new players."

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Speaking publicly for the first time since the Super Bowl, Manning said he's picked apart game film from his team's 43-8 loss, just as he would any other game -- although he hasn't watched a minute of the TV broadcast.

Instead of dwelling, Manning is moving forward. He took a few seconds to applaud his departed and retired teammates -- Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno, Champ Bailey, Zane Beadles and Chris Kuper -- but he was far more focused on the team's new additions and its offseason program, which begins Monday. He also stressed Denver's injuries, which left the team a shell of what it expected to be by the time the Super Bowl rolled around.

"It's almost like Ryan Clady was like a free-agent acquisition," Manning said. "He didn't play last year. Von Miller [and] Derek Wolfe [were also injured]. It'll be nice to get some of the guys who were injured, to get them on the field to go along with some of the new guys that we've added. I'm looking forward to going to work with them."

Fresh off his yearly session at Duke -- where he worked out with receivers Demaryius Thomas, Andre Caldwell, Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Julius Thomas -- Manning seems ready to go. He'll have a long time to wait before his shot at another title, but that's no matter. That's already where he's looking. That's always where he's looking.

"I'm trying to do my best to do my part, keep myself in good shape, get on the same page with my receivers," Manning said. "I feel I have a responsibility to the team to be on top of my game. That's what I think about every day when I go over there to work and lift weights and throw with my receivers is doing my job for the Denver Broncos. That's what I've tried to do since I've been here and will do until I stop playing, I guess."

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