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Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after passing his 500th career touchdown pass to Julius Thomas #80 (not pictured) in the first quarter of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 5, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
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Pritchard: Broncos regress to mean after stellar Peyton Manning era

Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after passing his 500th career touchdown pass to Julius Thomas #80 (not pictured) in the first quarter of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 5, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The four seasons that Peyton Manning spent with the Denver Broncos yielded two AFC Championships, a Super Bowl title, and a whole lot of winning.

“It was phenomenal here for about four years,” said “Pritchard and Cecil” co-host Mike Pritchard on Thursday.

But, it’s not often a team hooks such a big free agent fish, Pritchard said the Broncos are now suffering the hangover.

“Now, you’re returning back to the mean. Regression to the mean,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard said it’s easy to just look at the job performance of head coach Vance Joseph and blame him for the troubles of the franchise, but the Broncos have had a litany of other factors that have contributed to the team’s decline in recent years.

“There’s been a lot of help here,” Pritchard said. “And part of that has been complacency. Missing on draft picks. Understanding that you have currency because you just won a Super Bowl.”

In reality, however, Broncos Country would still be looking back at the glory days of the late 1990s had it not been for Manning’s excursion into the Mile High City, Pritchard said.

“That’s the only recent success you’ve ever had or recent success that you can fall back to. But now you can fall back to 2015 or you can fall back to the Peyton Manning era because he did land here,” Pritchard said.

“But that was like a message in a bottle, though, wasn’t it? The Peyton Manning period here in Denver was a message in a bottle in an ocean. How many teams really think that you’re going to land that type of player through free agency? It doesn’t happen.”

Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @JohnnyHart7.

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