In what has already been the most exciting and news-filled offseason since the great Tebow vs. Manning debate, the Broncos have kicked things to a new level of crazy after reportedly parting ways with Gary Kubiak.
Just yesterday all of Broncos Country was convinced of and generally pleased with the idea that the long-time Denver favorite and Super Bowl winning coach was going to be leading the team’s offense while new head coach Vic Fangio would run the defense. That was all before an Adam Schefter bomb blew the minds of every fan, coach and player around the league as the Broncos decided to not only shift away from their assumed OC but possibly from the organization.
We are left now with even more questions than we had yesterday. As a group, the MHR staff discussed the possibilities at QB in Kubiak’s offense and there were many options considered including the idea of keeping Case Keenum - familiar with the system; bringing in Joe Flacco - familiar with the system; or drafting Drew Lock, who apparently John Elway and Kubes are in love with. Since the Shanahan/Kubiak system will almost assuredly not be in use, who on earth will be the quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2019 and beyond?
Until an offensive coordinator is hired, it’s nearly impossible even to speculate, but hey, it’s the offseason and guessing and prognosticating is what makes this time of year so enjoyable.
Fangio has already reached out to interview 49ers QB coach Rich Scangarello, but the move has been blocked by San Francisco. The Broncos reportedly aren’t giving up just yet, and it is something that we will have to keep an eye on over the next few days.
The one thing that seems to be completely clarified by this whole situation is that Vic Fangio is calling the shots for who will coach and play for this team in 2019. Elway has given him full control - something he didn’t ever seem to do with Vance Joseph - and we can now try to guess the future of the Broncos from the eyes of the “evil genius.”
Coaches are susceptible - and rightly so - to hiring people they already know and are comfortable with. This is apparently one of the primary reasons Kubiak parted ways with the team - because he wanted to bring back his buddies (Rick Dennison, etc..), and Elway and Fangio were having none of it. Gary Kubiak is obviously not the only coach who operates this way, however, and our new mob boss head coach is undoubtedly going to act the same way, at least to a small degree.
This, of course, forces us to consider again the possibilities at QB and which players at that position Fangio is already familiar and comfortable with. In the last 10 years, where has he seen success from that position? Could he potentially go after one of those players?
His most recent up close and personal view of a QB is Mitch Trubisky in Chicago. Trubisky is a young guy on a cheap contract who is nothing flashy but is just good enough to help his team compete and win games with a great defense. This is obviously a strategy the Broncos coach could employ - a rookie quarterback on a cheap contract. The question of who they could draft with the No. 10 pick in the 2019 draft is for another time, but for the moment we will claim it to be Drew Lock from Missouri since we know there has been interest from Elway.
The problem with bringing in a guy like Lock, as we have seen many times throughout league history - including this season for the Cardinals, Jets and Bills - is that rookie QBs are rarely successful in their first season or even their first few seasons under center. For a 60-year-old coach and a GM/CEO on expiring contracts (2021), the strategy of rebuilding for the future while dealing with losing in 2019 is surely not an option. It’s possible Elway and Fangio think Drew Lock is a sure thing and a guy they feel comfortable with picking at No. 10, but for now let’s assume they don’t feel that to be the case.
So, if they don’t draft someone and they want to win right now, what are their options? In particular, who are the guys that the new head coach is familiar with? There aren’t many still around in the NFL so we will add one extra guy to the list just to have three total options.
Option #1 Case Keenum
Keenum is a guy Fangio actually hasn’t been in a locker room with up to this point in their careers, but he is an obvious choice since he is under contract for the 2019 season and is the current QB for the Denver Broncos. Not much more needs to be said about this option since Keenum has been written about ad nauseam and in a mostly negative light since he was signed last season. The one thing we can say with relative confidence is that if the Broncos want to win in 2019 and want to win big, they will likely look elsewhere for their guy.
Option #2 Joe Flacco
The big, former Baltimore QB, is a player who has already been in the rumor mill in regards to filling this position for the Broncos in 2019. He is very experienced, is a Super Bowl MVP and has several years of personal history with Fangio. Of course the two of them were focused on different sides of the ball, but Fangio got to see Flacco up close and personal after Flacco was drafted in 2008 and Fangio was serving in multiple roles on the Ravens’ defense from 2006 to 2009.
Flacco is another QB, much like Keenum, who is not particularly a beloved option for most Denver fans. From his personal history with the team to his generally poor play outside of the 2013 playoffs, he hasn’t earned much goodwill from this fanbase. Still, he does have some arm talent, extensive experience, is a “win now” acquisition and has a history with Fangio.
Option #3 Colin Kaepernick
All politics and personal opinions aside, Kaepernick actually makes a lot of sense to be the next QB for the Denver Broncos. Though of course, he hasn’t played since 2016, and his stats over his last few seasons are on par with Trevor Siemien and Brock Osweiler, you can definitely point to coaching as being a potential key to his lack of success. The San Francisco disaster of 2015-16 that saw Jim Tomsula followed by Chip Kelly making a complete mockery of the NFL head coaching position has to play some part in evaluating Kaep’s final seasons.
The polarizing QB is still only 31 years old, and at one time was regarded as “the future of the NFL.” Though his weaknesses of not knowing when to throw the ball away and not being a particularly good pocket passer were exploited in his last few seasons, he has unquestionable talent and a rocket of an arm. If he has kept in football shape and can come in and prove that he would be a good leader and a solid locker room presence, why not give him one last chance? Sign him to a cheap contract and give him a shot. If he fails, start over again in 2020 with a young QB from a good draft class.
Fangio has seen what Kaepernick can do, and as a strong, confident head coach, he should at least consider going all-in with Kaep for the 2019 Denver Broncos.
What do you think?
Who would you rather see at QB?
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