Denver Bronco fans are anxious to find out who their new head coach will be now that the Broncos have parted ways with four-year coach John Fox. But, what's really on the minds of fans  is the question, will Peyton Manning call it quits?

Of course, at this point, the question has no answer. All we have is speculation, opinion, and conjecture... so let's.

There seems to be a great chasm that divides the Bronco faithful.

There are those, like Broncos Vice President John Elway, who want Peyton Manning back for another season. Then there are those who are saying it's time for Manning to retire.

There's a belief that age caught up with Manning halfway through the season, and that he hasn't been the same quarterback that has re-written the record books.

The fact is, Manning's numbers over the second half of the season aren't anything like the first half.

The question is why?

Is it because he's almost 39 years old, which is pretty ancient for NFL quarterbacks? Is it because he's been dealing with injury issues during the last month of the season, and during the playoffs? Is it because the protection from his offense line has been shaky at best, and repeatedly, Manning has been forced to hurry his throws in order to avoid taking a hit or getting sacked.

The answer to those questions is 'yes'. But, there is more.

There is the whole "we need more of a running game" philosophy that came into play after the St. Louis game. From that point on, Manning and the Broncos offense was never the same. It was much less dynamic than it had been over the first few weeks of the season. Run on first down, run on second down, third and long, punt.

We have noticed real struggles in the red zone, and here's why. Running the football on first down and second down, and then giving Peyton just one shot at the end zone.

Back in the "old days" --earlier in the season-- often times in the red zone he would go right to the end zone with a pass. Give Peyton three throws to the end zone, and it's quite likely that one is going to connect. Give him one chance, and the odds of success decrease tremendously.

The effort to establish a solid running game has hurt Manning's effectiveness enormously. He's faced many more third and long situations when the defense knows he's going to throw, which has given a great advantage to the defense. It's also taken him out of his 'rhythm'. It's taken away what has made him so great - letting Peyton be Peyton.

So you add that little twist into the mix, combined with everything else; age, injury,  offensive line, and the fact that, as everyone in the media has acknowledged, Peyton doesn't exactly have a cannon for an arm, and the result is a struggling Peyton and a struggling offense.

Is it time for Peyton to hang it up?

Well, as John Elway stated in today's news conference, only Peyton knows his body and if it's up to another year of the NFL grind.

Personally, I think Peyton has another year in him and that he could perform at a high level, given adequate protection, a more effective offensive scheme, and provided he stays injury free. I hope he comes back.

However, I will be surprised if he comes back given the changes that are taking place on the coaching staff. I can't imagine Peyton wanting to come back for one year, having to learn a brand new offensive scheme and system with a new coordinator and head coach. Regardless of his physical or mental condition, the overriding issue I believe is that right there.

We may not know the answer for several weeks. Then again, depending on how the coaching hire goes, we may know sooner than later.

John Elway says Peyton will be involved in the  hiring process. Peyton may not want to be involved in the process unless he is in fact planning to come back for one more Super Bowl try.

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