The Denver Broncos enjoy a lot of media attention these days, and thus, there are a lot of people that have sources within the organization. There's local beat writer Mike Klis, who recently moved from The Denver Post to 9News NBC. There are Lindsay Jones, Troy Renck and Jeff Legwold at USA Today, DP and ESPN respectively. There's this national newsbreaking wizard named Adam Schefter - perhaps you've heard of him. He got his start in Denver, literally wrote the book on Denver's Super Bowl years, and is still considered the gold standard for breaking news in Mile High.
For the biggest news of the year to be leaked to, exclusively, Jason Cole of BleacherReport.com - let's just say that fact alone imbues doubt and strains credibility. So, do we all have our critical thinking caps on?
Cole is reporting that the Broncos have decided to start Brock Osweiler the rest of the year (including postseason) barring any performance setback or injury, and are moving on from Peyton Manning.
Here's Cole's video transcript from earlier today (something he repeated on 104.3 The Fan as well):
"In talking to sources within the Denver Broncos organization, the decision by the Broncos has been made that they will continue the rest of the season with Brock Osweiler as the starting quarterback and will move on from Peyton Manning at this point in time."
Those are some big words. Cole's report does not claim to be speculative. He cites "sources within the Broncos organization" and says, "the decision has been made."
Broncos deny the report
The Broncos denied the report on Twitter, calling it speculative.
No decision has been made on our QB situation beyond this week, contrary to speculation from Bleacher Report based on "anonymous sources."— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 2, 2015
The only other thing we have heard officially is what coach Gary Kubiak said earlier this week when he was asked about the situation of an injured starter with a backup playing very well.
"I listen to a lot of people. The No. 1 guy I'm talking to on a regular basis is Peyton. That's the most important thing because it's about his health and getting him back ready to go," Kubiak said on Monday, noting that he and John Elway had a great meeting with Manning before the game. "He's been great. I think his frame of mind is really good because I think he has a good feeling now of this is what I needed to do. He understands the steps that he needs to go through. He was very engaged yesterday, throughout the course of the week, helped us at halftime. ...We just need to stay positive day-to-day, but he did a great job with Brock yesterday."
Kubiak: "We're totally committed to getting [Manning] back. ... Nothing has changed." Cast is off; walking boot is on.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) December 2, 2015
Per Cole, the decision is not final
Cole continues to suggest that this decision isn't a totally firm one: Brock could still screw the pooch, effectively.
"The only thing that could change that is that is if Osweiler struggles significantly," Cole says. "He's only started two games this season, and teams could figure him out and cause him problems. And that's why it's important that Peyton Manning remain ready to possibly go in and be a sub for Osweiler in that situation. That would be similar to what Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe went through in the 2001 campaign when the Patriots won their first title and Bledsoe had to play in the AFC Championship Game."
This is where Cole's report weakens
Given the Brock-performance caveat, this doesn't sound like a "decision" by the Broncos at all. It basically matches everyone's understanding of the current Broncos QB situation: Brock Osweiler is Denver's starting QB until Peyton Manning is fully healthy. And in this case, everyone in the world should have the implicit understanding that "Peyton being healthy" really means "Peyton being healthy enough to play better than Brock Osweiler."
Everyone already knew this before Cole's report. And the fact that the Klises and Joneses and Schefters of the world aren't chiming in with their own version of the same report tells me this could be a case of poor sourcing (did John Elway tell him this? did the team chef?), speculation or both.
I don't believe a "decision has been made," and I believe that if the Broncos think Peyton can play better than Brock, he'll still be the starting QB. I also believe that becomes less and less likely with each passing week.
Let me know your take in the poll and in the comments.