Good morning, Broncos Country!
So the guy leading the team on the field Sunday is a guy who used to back up the guy leading the team, then came in to lead the team, then left the team to lead another team, before getting benched then traded to another team that didn’t really want him leading anyway and sent him back to his original team to back up the guy leading the team and now in.
If that striking resumé has you a bit concerned about the future of the Broncos’ 2017 season, there’s plenty of good reason for it.
After all, the sixth-year quarterback - tall quarterback (drink!) - has only started 21 games of the 37 total he’s played in the NFL. His career TD-to-INT ratio of 26:22 is too close to 1:1 to make fans super comfortable. And just the fact that the Browns were willing to pay him $16 million/year to play - but on another team - is not a ringing endorsement.
Yet Brock Osweiler has upside in a very important category that doesn’t exist on the stat sheet - leadership.
"I know these guys ... I've played with @DemaryiusT in games. I've played with @ESanders_10 in games."#BroncosIn60https://t.co/d3ItatRPum— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 2, 2017
Although many of us might be behind the quarterback change, few are holding our collective breath that Osweiler leads the Broncos to nine wins in a row, including huge victories over the Pats and Chiefs at home, a couple of playoff wins and a trip back to the Super Bowl where Osweiler last left us.
It would be the craziest NFL storybook ending in the history of crazy NFL storybook endings - an honor the Broncos have claimed two times already.
So it would be total bonkers to think Osweiler can save the season that way.
At the same time, no one is willing to rule it out either (not until Sunday anyway).
Osweiler as the Broncos’ signal caller is intriguing, kind of mind-blowing, and yes, even exciting.
And that’s what the Broncos are feeling, and that’s why this change was necessary.
Among the most telling was Emmanuel Sanders’ enthusiasm.
“He’s still the same guy. Still breaking the huddle all fast, still talking a lot, still communicating, still being that leader and still believes that he’s the man, and that’s what it’s about,” Sanders noted Thursday. “As a quarterback, everybody always said, ‘Oh Peyton’s so humble.’ But Peyton was one of the most competitive, confident guys to be around. It was addictive and Brock has that same thing.”
Sanders agreed that the entire offense needs to improve, but he definitely thinks the change is for the better for this team.
“I think changing up the quarterback position, bringing a new energy and a new spark to the offense,” Sanders said before adding that Trevor Siemian “bounced around” as well. “Offensively, like you said, we collectively as a group, we aren’t getting the job done. We have to get better no matter who’s throwing the football.”
But the point is that Osweiler will be doing it, and historically that’s good for Sanders as he was Oz’s most targeted receiver in 2015.
“I have to figure that out, maybe I was paying him or something,” Sanders laughed. “I might have to leave some money in his locker or something. From yours truly and wink.”
Sanders’ light mood was telling, but he also indicated Osweiler came prepared this week - having learned from the best the importance of studying the playbook and knowing the game film.
“Peyton groomed him well for sure. Breaking down film, he was telling us exactly what he’s seeing and we’re able to get on the same page,” Sanders said. “Just the energy that he brings and that leadership mentality that he brings. The guy knows and thinks that he’s a franchise quarterback.”
In fact, Sanders added, he’s been that way even since coming back and being the scout team QB.
“You saw him on scout team commanding like he’s about to play in the Super Bowl. That’s just Brock. He’s, ‘Come on guys!’ Talib is getting all mad, ‘Throw me an interception. You’re the scout team quarterback.’ And Brock’s like, ‘No I’m not throwing an interception,’” Sanders said. “Brock, he’s competitive and I’m excited for him. I’m excited about the opportunity and I’m excited about facing the Philadelphia Eagles. Right now we’ve lost three games in a row and what better team to go and beat on the road.”
Von Miller said having Osweiler under center felt a little like 2015 all over again. For those not paying attention, that turmoil-ridden season turned out alright.
“Like I said, when we first signed Brock, I was happy about it. I was excited about it,” Miller said. “It kind of feels like 2015 again. We’ve won with Brock. We’ve done a lot of great things with Brock. I’m totally confident in Brock and what he’ll be able to do for us moving forward.”
Both C.J. Anderson and Demaryius Thomas acknowledged that it’s tough to see their starter get benched, but having a familiar face coming in to take over certainly helps - especially one who has had some experience doing it..
“Yes, it helps big time. He’s been around a long time, so he kind of knows the system. He knows all the right things to check to. He knows all the little things that certain guys might not know. I’ve heard some of the other guys say, ‘Oh, that’s something that Peyton [Manning] used to do,’” Thomas said. “He knows everything about the offense. He knows when to change the play in the huddle. We’re excited about seeing what he can do come Sunday.”
Probably the most excited person on Sunday will be Osweiler, who has had a crazy journey just to find out. When he first arrived back in Denver in August, John Elway told the press that Oz would need to “get football rehab” before being ready to play.
Osweiler joked he “is checking out” now.
“I feel sometimes the best thing to do with a quarterback when he’s not playing well or he’s going through some tough times is pulling him out of the fire ... and letting him observe,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been able to do. Sometimes when you’re in the heat of the moment and things aren’t going well or you’re just trying to make a play, you make a bad play worse, and then it just compounds.
“I’ve been very fortunate now for seven games to be able to sit on the sideline, learn this offense through mental reps, just observe and think about how I would do things differently if I were ever given the opportunity again,” Osweiler added. “That’s kind of what my rehab has been and now we’re going to put it to the test.”
Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said Osweiler has been preparing for his exam well.
“He’s done an outstanding job. Brock is a true pro. There are a lot of the practice habits and the preparation habits that he learned from one of the best in the game. That carries over here on a weekly basis,” McCoy said. “I’m excited to get back with Brock again. The opportunity he has...it’s a great opportunity for him to take it and run with it.”
Sanders and Thomas at least will be hoping he takes it and throws it their way instead.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Sanders said of having to change quarterbacks mid-season. “My job is to go out, run the route, catch the ball, score a touchdown and dance afterwards. I’m going to continuously do that.”
Sanders hasn’t caught a TD pass since Week 2 and DT hasn’t caught one since last season. Who gets one first this weekend?
This poll is closed
Sanders - he’s "paying Brock" after all
DT all day - he needs it most
Horse Tracks - docllv’s pick of the day
Seen: Emmanuel Sanders donated $10,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver just by catching another Peyton Manning pass – The Denver Post
Special to The Denver Post
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