The Broncos and their fervent believers anticipate a postseason pursuit, but a pachyderm looms in the Zoom room.
The team possesses one of the most suspect quarterback collections in the NFL.
Two former Super Bowl quarterbacks who are available would improve the Broncos’ depth and QB quality quotient, but they aren’t being considered.
Instead, after the lockdown, the Broncos’ rallying cry must be: Lock — All or Nothing.
Stay healthy, Drew.
Only the three quarterbacks on the Bengals’ roster have won fewer games — none! — than the Broncos’ combined total of five. Two of the Broncos’ foursome have just 13 aggregate starts, while the other two haven’t played one game.
This QB group certainly is not the Flop Five of the 1960s when Max Choboian, John McCormick, Mickey Slaughter, Scotty Glacken and Don Breaux cumulatively compiled a 10-32-2 record as Broncos starting quarterbacks.
The Broncos’ burden to bear this season is on Drew Lock, who has started five games (with four victories). If he is injured again, or becomes ill, or struggles extremely, does anyone — including John Elway — trust Jeff Driskel, who has won one of eight career starts, or Brett Rypien, who spent squadoosh minutes on the field as a rookie or Riley Neal, the Broncos’ latest undrafted free agent.
According to various rankings of overall quarterback situations with the NFL’s 32 franchises, the Broncos are in the worst tier despite the presence of Lock.
The positive aspect is that the Broncos’ financial commitment to the four quarterbacks is a measly $4.63 million.
Elway, who picked the quartet, has accepted the perilous risk.
An alarming number of starting quarterbacks don’t play 16 games annually. Ask Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Joe Flacco and even Patrick Mahomes. All missed multiple games in 2019.
A backup plan and QB are necessary, especially with an additional wild-card team in each conference.
Potential contending teams have retained or signed veteran quarterbacks to serve as reserves. For example, when the Saints lost Teddy Bridgewater, they brought in Jameis Winston. The Ravens kept Robert Griffin III as Lamar Jackson’s stand-in. The Cowboys jumped for Andy Dalton, and the Raiders grabbed Marcus Mariota.
The Chiefs replaced 35-year-old backup Matt Moore with 34-year-old Chad Henne, and the Broncos’ two previous starters, Case Keenum and Joe Flacco, have found fresh locales. Keenum joined the Browns. Flacco, despite serious neck issues, was signed by the Jets.
The Broncos opted for Driskel, a man on a journey since 2016 when he isn’t on the injured reserve.
“Oft-injured” is an odd choice. Driskel — who spent four seasons with the 49ers, the Bengals and the Lions as a replacement — started eight games, losing seven, before getting hurt in Cincinnati, then Detroit.
The Broncos are among bottom-feeders Jacksonville, Washington, Cincinnati and Tom Brady-less New England in quarterback depth and quality.
The Bengals drafted Joe Burrow No. 1 and made him the instant starter over just two others on the roster — fringers Ryan Finley and Jake Dolegala.
Bill Belichick is trying to prove he can win with anybody, and nobody can win in D.C. or with the Jags.
None of those franchises, including Denver, are rushing to affirmative judgment on Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton.
Elway will not sign Kaepernick after their negative negotiation result in 2016 — when the quarterback refused to consent to a significant salary decrease if traded to the Broncos — and again following Kaepernick’s kneeling to protest police brutality against blacks and his ultimate exclusion from the league. Elway wouldn’t even contemplate the possibility. No other NFL ownership or administration evidently has, either, despite commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement last week that he would “support’’ and “encourage’’ a team to sign Kaepernick.
Newton is another matter entirely. The former MVP and loser to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50 was released by the Panthers because of salary and injuries, not protests.
I agree completely with Gazette senior sports copy editor Jim O’Connell, who wrote last month: “Why shouldn’t Denver take a flier on Cam Newton?’’ O'Connell termed Newton a bargain backup and better than any other available quarterback.
The Broncos, unwisely, still are not listening.
They absolutely could raise their quarterback elephant level, and Elway would have a Plan B.
If the Broncos are to be all-in on the playoffs, they should go all-out for Newton.