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Woody Paige: Osweiler's odd road back to Broncos

November 4, 2017 Updated: November 4, 2017 at 5:35 pm
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Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) warms up before an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

How long for the Wiz of Os this time?
Brock’s back.
Do the Broncos have Brock’s back? Can they support it?
Brock Osweiler will be the Broncos’ starting quarterback Sunday for the first time in 22 months and 26 games.
Weirdly enough, two other Broncos’ quarterbacks had longer spans between starts — Steve Ramsey (27 games) from 1972-74 and Gary Kubiak (66) from 1984-1988.
Osweiler’s last start was Jan. 3, 2016.

Weirdly enough, the coach who removed Osweiler with 8:18 remaining in the third quarter, the series after the Chargers grabbed a 13-7 lead, was Kubiak. Osweiler received credit for the victory when Peyton Manning and the Broncos came from behind to win 27-20. Osweiler didn’t play in the postseason, but received a Super Bowl ring, as did Manning, the man he replaced that season, and Siemian, the man he replaces this season. Oh, the ironies of irony.
Osweiler has been on a hiatus.
Similar situations have happened for four NFL quarterbacks — including two who once played for the Broncos. After Brian Griese was John Elway’s successor at quarterback from 1998-2002, he would start for the Buccaneers in 2004-05 and returned to Tampa Bay to start again in 2008. Steve DeBerg, who started 12 games in Denver in 1981-83 as Elway’s predecessor, played for the Bucs from 1984-87 and went back to that team in 1993, starting one game.
It had been assumed Osweiler was a one-season wonder as Broncos starter.
However, The Most Hated Athlete in Colorado since Carmelo Anthony departed becomes The Great Brock Hope in his comeback.
Twenty-five of Osweiler’s former teammates (active roster, injured reserved, practice squad) are current Broncos.
One veteran, who asked not to be named, told me: “We got Brock’s back. He’s a great dude. He looked really comfortable lately, even better than two years ago. ... Forget that (stuff) of last year. He’s matured from what he went through. He can handle this offense and knows us. This ain’t nothing against Trevor, but change does us good. Brock did this before. We shoulda won all the games he played that year. What he did when Peyton was hurt and all, we wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl. We got to catch fire, and he can help us do that.’’
Brock’s starting record (including the Chargers’ game) in ‘15 was 5-2.
He took over for Manning on Nov. 13 in the third quarter as the Broncos trailed the Chiefs at home 22-0. After flinging an interception, Osweiler guided the Broncos to two touchdowns in the 29-13 defeat.
In his first start at Chicago (when temperatures dropped into the teens), Osweiler connected with Demaryius Thomas on a 48-yard touchdown, and the Broncos were ahead throughout, winning 17-9 as the Bears got a rubbish score late.
The next week at home was Brock’s most critical examination — vs. the Patriots. The Broncos were down 21-7 in the third quarter, but went up on a Brock TD toss with 64 seconds remaining in regulation. New England tied the game at 24 on a last-play field goal, but the Broncos scored on their first overtime possession on a 48-yard C.J. Anderson dash.
In San Diego the Broncos scored twice in the opening quarter and casually beat the Chargers 17-3. But, at Mile High Stadium against the Raiders, the Broncos didn’t score a touchdown while losing 15-12 after Brandon McManus bounced a field-goal attempt off the upright. Osweiler threw for 308 yards, but couldn’t push the Broncos in from the red zone three times.
The Dec. 20 game in Pittsburgh was a tale of two halves — the best of times and the worst of times. In the first half Osweiler threw for three touchdowns and ran for one as the Broncos went up 27-10. But the Steelers replied with three touchdowns in the second half while the Broncos had zero points. Osweiler fronted another overtime triumph (20-17) against the Bengals to give the Broncos an 11-4 record.
The finale against the Chargers and coach Mike McCoy was the last game Osweiler started for the Broncos — until this Sunday.
As I wrote here recently, he is one of only three active NFL QBs to have the opportunity to be on a playoff team from 2012-2017.
Brock’s back to the future.

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