DENVER — The Broncos say their latest quarterback switcheroo “feels like 2015,” a year in which they back-and-forth’ed between Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler on the road to a Super Bowl.
I say this feels like the day Kate Upton leaves World Series champ Justin Verlander for a sports columnist.
We’re all friends here. Let’s get real about Denver's merry-go-round at quarterback. Sliding from Trevor Siemian to Brock Osweiler (he’s back!) is like 2015 in one respect only: the quarterback of the future won’t be known until after this season. Benching Siemian for Osweiler is substantial proof.
The next Frank/John/Jake/Peyton isn’t in the building, the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Centre (spelled “centre” due to the family’s Canadian wildcatting ties. Perhaps the next QB is playing in the CFL, eh?). Their QBs are Average Joes.
I expect the Broncos to play better with Brock. Devontae Booker should find his way onto your fantasy bench; Demaryius Thomas will catch his first touchdown pass since November 2016, a span of 14 games. The coaches will dumb down the offense to play to their strength, a running game, not one that seeks to score the coordinator a head-coaching job. Mike McCoy didn’t land a head gig after his run-heavy, Tim Tebow-led Broncos paced the NFL in rushing yards. That happened the following year, when McCoy’s offense averaged 30.1 points with Peyton Manning’s high-flying passing game. These Broncos are 3-0 when they call more running plays than passing plays.
Osweiler’s pit stop in Houston wasn’t a total bust. It was in Texas the Broncos' ex learned his arm needn’t be the star of the show: “Maybe in that situation I was trying to do too much,” Osweiler said.
This quarterback maze has us all turned around.
"I'm sure a lot of people are surprised by this," Osweiler said of returning to a city where he was booed. "Very rarely does a player leave to go to another team and he's back with his previous team in a year's time, let alone a quarterback."
Up is down, left is right, the winner is the loser. The Broncos are stuck between a Brock and a hard place. Siemian has been labeled the loser, despite having won the competition. Hmmm. Sounds familiar.
Vance Joseph, the already embattled head coach, said they won’t have to pare down the playbook in Osweiler’s eighth start (first since ’15) for the Broncos.
“As far as the offense,” Joseph said, “he’s got it.”
The Broncos don’t have it at quarterback. Paxton can’t play. Siemian’s seeing ghosts. Brock’s been here before. Denver’s out is outside the building. For brevity purposes, we’ll pare down this QB contest to two — one college, one pro: Mayfield, the amateur from the University of Oklahoma; Luck, the Indy millionaire with a murky future.
With Mayfield, there are quarterbacks projected to go higher in the 2018 draft. That’s a good thing; the Broncos right now would have the 12th pick of the first round. There are quarterbacks who stand taller than Mayfield; at 6-foot-1, Mayfield raises the same questions that hovered over Russell Wilson.
“No,” Broncos center Matt Paradis said Thursday when asked if he must adjust his shotgun snap, going from an average-sized quarterback, Siemian, to a taller quarterback, Osweiler.
No, the Broncos shouldn’t fear Mayfield’s size, foundation (a college walk-on) or fiery leadership.
The professional option is Luck. He would come with even more questions. Luck has a bum shoulder that put the 28-year-old quarterback on injured reserve. Is it smart to take a shot on the only quarterback who’s grounded the “No Fly Zone”? Could they convince the Colts, a 2-6 team with myriad needs, to divorce their furry franchise face in exchange for two first-round picks?
A former Stanford quarterback flourished here before. So did one who, as a Colt, plagued the Broncos and arrived with a sketchy injury. It seems worth a phone call, at least. The payoff can be golden.
And we are wise to keep Redskins free-agent-to-be Kirk Cousins on Colorado's wish list.
To his credit, Osweiler spent last week encouraging the locker room and Broncos Country not to pull the plug on this season. His bedside manner is soothing, like a pilot’s announcement during heavy turbulence.
“On a personal note, it’s hard to really put it into words, just because of how much love I have for this organization, my teammates and this city,” Osweiler said.
The cheese was thicker than a Philly cheesesteak.
“I felt (the love) from my first day back,” Osweiler said. “It wasn’t handshakes. It wasn’t, ‘Hey, good to see you.’ It was hugs.”
What year is it?
“It kind of feels like 2015 again,” Von Miller said of the quarterback swap.
Agreed. It feels like the Broncos won’t know their quarterback until after the season.