The Denver Broncos seem to have a love/hate relationship with Brock Osweiler.
When the Brockster relieved an injured Peyton Manning and kept playoff hopes alive with a 5-2 record, we loved him.
When he left the team for greener pastures and a pair of ridiculous cowboy boots, we hated him.
When he got sacked by Von Miller we laughed at him.
When he got benched/traded/benched again, we felt sorry for him (or not).
At least until we were welcoming him back to Denver with semi-open arms (because that first press conference after rejoining the team in August rightfully earned him a little praise and possibly some forgiveness).
We found ourselves at an emotional crossroads in November when Trevor Siemian started slinging the ball to Chiefs defenders as often as Broncos receivers and Vance Joseph made the call two days and two quarters too late to make Osweiler the signal caller.
Oz faced the NFC-best Eagles followed by the AFC-best Patriots before losing his third game in as many starts thanks mostly to an ill-timed interception that sealed the Broncos’ three-point loss to the Bengals as well as the bench for Oz.
So Joseph called in Paxton Lynch for the following game against the Raiders, but the outing went rather poorly and ended in another ankle injury for No. 12, opening the door for yet another QB change.
Paying for past sins, Osweiler was relegated to clipboard duty only as Siemian came in for the final quarter and appeared to get the offense rolling and sealed his start for the following week in Miami.
And that 23-0 shutout win for the Broncos appeared to cement the final QB roster decision of this lost season.
Until Siemian got hurt midway through the first half of last night’s game in Indy.
Once again Broncos Country found itself relying on a guy it loved to hate and hated to love.
That is, until that guy scored an 18-yard rushing touchdown and did the Mile High Salute.
Suddenly - at least for another 24 hours - the Bossweiler was back in good graces with Broncos Country.
“I was just a little kid having fun tonight. That’s really what it was,” Osweiler said about his celebration after the touchdown. “You guys all know, I’ve been on a little bit of a roller coaster ride for the past two years. Just to go out there, Thursday Night Football, with my teammates that I love. I was just having fun, and that was simply it. I was going to lay it all out there.”
No. 17 knows perhaps better than anyone that second chances don’t come all that often, so you have to be ready to do something with them.
Oz, who is on at least chance seven where Broncos fans are concerned, made the most of his time on the field Thursday night.
“You know, we always talk about around our building how you never know when it is going to be your last game in this business,” he added. “So just enjoy every moment and that was really what I was doing tonight.”
Brock Osweiler— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) December 15, 2017
11/15, 174 yards, 2 TD
Quarterback rating: 151.1
Osweiler threw 12 of 17 for 194 yards and two touchdown passes. He spread the ball around to five different receivers and handed the ball off 42 times to a tune of 264 rushing yards.
His teammates - many of whom were with Osweiler during the Super Bowl run two years ago - were ecstatic with the new life for the offense last night but were not surprised.
“He’s a quarterback we trust,” said Cody Latimer, who had perhaps his best game in his four-year career with three catches for 60 yards, one touchdown, one two-point conversion and a host of good offensive blocks. “Like I said, he’s started before for us. He practices with us every week, so when he came in I knew there wasn’t going to be a change. We were still going to make plays when we were called upon. He’s a great leader. He came out, did a good job leading the offense and getting us good drives too.”
If there was one thing Osweiler mastered with his tutelage under Manning it was the art of the press conference.
Complimenting his teammates and his coaches, Osweiler wasn’t taking any more credit for the win than he deserved.
“I think the biggest thing is we had a great rhythm tonight. We were really running the football. That’s a huge credit to the backs, O-line, tight ends, Andy (Janovich) at fullback, making big holes all night,” Osweiler said. “And any time you’re able to run the football with that kind of success, you’re going to get man-to-man coverage outside. So now, DT (Demaryius Thomas), Emmanuel (Sanders), Cody (Latimer), Bennie (Fowler III) – all those guys can go take advantage of one-on-one matchups. We just had a really good rhythm going offensively, and we were able to mix the run and the pass.”
Broncos’ center - and one of the most consistently effective blockers on the offensive line, Matt Paradis - had no question Osweiler could get the offense in rhythm.
“Oh, you know, Brock is a gamer. Brock loves football. I mean, the amount of love and enjoyment he gets out of playing the game pours over into the whole huddle,” Paradis said. “So, I mean, he came right in, and just, you know, he never had a doubt and we rallied with him, and started scoring some points.”
Brock Osweiler's 99.2 Total QBR tonight is the highest in the NFL for any QB in a game this season (min. 20 action plays). It's the highest Total QBR in a game for a non-starting QB in the 12 seasons for which ESPN has Total QBR data. pic.twitter.com/z8DUU4qfhw— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 15, 2017
The rest is history, of course.
The offense did its job, holding onto the football, moving the chains, keeping the defense rested - even scoring.
That made it easy for Von Miller and company to be aggressive and limit a very mobile Jacoby Brissett who burned them in the Colts’ opening drive with an uncontested touchdown run.
“There’s nothing we can do about this season at this point,” said outside linebacker Shane Ray. “You see us come out here, and we get another win, a hard-earned win. It was a close game at first. It just feels good to have all of these guys and their excitement and their work ethic pay off.”
But in spite of all the excitement Osweiler sparked on both sides of the ball, the Broncos still have a hard time loving him.
“He played well. Three touchdowns, two passing and one rushing,” Joseph said after the win. “He played with great poise. He played clean, smart football for us and it was a win.”
It was a win???
Talk about a lackluster endorsement for the guy who likely just saved the coach’s job for another season.
And when asked if Osweiler earned the start for next week against the Redskins, the answer was even more non-committal.
“I can’t say that right now,” was all Joseph had.
The added on Monday afternoon that discussion of who starts next week will be a “long and hard conversation.”
Vance Joseph says he is “not sure” who the starting QB is, but that he has “two healthy guys” at QB. Said that he wants to see Paxton Lynch “play more,” and that will have some bearing on the decision. “That’s going to be a long and hard conversation."— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) December 15, 2017
I have never been too high or too low on Osweiler. Mostly I enjoyed that he could help the team and wasn’t sorry Broncos didn’t end up paying him $19 million a year post-Super Bowl win. I wished the coaching staff kept Kyle Sloter versus bringing in Osweiler, but I have made my peace with that and have on many occasion this season called for Oz to be the starter.
Since coming back to Denver, the Brockster has been the best QB on the field - which isn’t saying a ton but is still saying something - and he has most definitely been the only quarterback with an ounce of skill to not just manage this offense, but lead it.
If Lynch is healthy by the Redskins game, there will be a lot of chatter about playing him to “see what he’s got” and sticking Oz back on the bench.
I’d much rather the Broncos show some love for No. 17 and let the hated QB build on what he brought to the table last night (and I’ll even stop calling him Brent).
Who deserves to be the starting QB next week against the Redskins?
This poll is closed
Definitely rock with Brock - he earned it
If Lynch is healthy, we have to "see more"
Is Sunshine still an option? (*editor’s note: NO!)