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Denver snapped a two-game losing streak with a 17-15 win over the Bears in Chicago. The win keeps the Broncos three games ahead of the Chiefs in the AFC West. More significant was who quarterbacked the team in the victory.
With Peyton Manning sidelined due to a variety of injuries, fourth-year pro Brock Osweiler pumped some life into a stagnant Broncos’ offense. Osweiler threw for 250 yards and 2 TD’s in completing 20 of 27 passes. Ronnie Hillman added 101 yards rushing.
Denver and Manning have heard the criticism all season. Even as the Broncos started the season at 7-0, Manning was very inconsistent. He was finally lifted in last week’s loss to Kansas City after throwing four interceptions; Manning has 17 interceptions and nine touchdowns on the season.
Osweiler has been adamant that his time as a backup has not been wasted. He’s watched one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks prepare for games and make in-game adjustments. He took advantage of his opportunity and led his team to a win on the road against a young and talented Bears team
Now, who’s the quarterback of the Broncos? At this point it must be Brock Osweiler.
Manning lost the starting job due to poor play, which may have resulted from a variety of injuries. Osweiler took the reins and performed very well, he deserves the opportunity to hold on to the job as long as he is effective.
Osweiler is better suited to operate Denver’s offense, which is predicated on a strong running game and the play action passes off the run, which are designed to diminish the effectiveness of defenses. Manning has found it difficult to adjust to this system, which takes away his ability to audible at the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t often take snaps under center nor does he have the agility needed to effectively run play action form the shotgun formation.
Osweiler at 6’8” is very athletic and showed the capacity to run the bootleg and put pressure on the defensive perimeter. Osweiler’s strong arm gives the Broncos the ability to stretch the field vertically and horizontally. The Denver offense is balanced with Osweiler under center, this gives coaches more flexibility in play calling and managing the game.
Bringing Manning back based on his reputation alone would be a disservice to all of the other players in the locker room who have one goal, to win. Osweiler will garner his teammate’s respect as long as he is able to generate offense and stay poised under enormous scrutiny.
Quarterback controversies have the capacity to divide locker rooms. Gary Kubiak, a former backup to John Elway, understands this very well. He must deftly balance his aging hall of famer’s competitive nature with the best interest of the team.
Manning’s fierce competitiveness will not allow him to go away quietly, he feels he can still be a superior NFL quarterback and he will lobby until he gets what he wants, with the Broncos or with another team willing to take the risk.
Denver’s future is no longer with Peyton Manning, it may not be with Brock Osweiler either. However, Osweiler gives them the best chance to win right now. The young QB will get to test his mettle against the NFL’s best team, New England, next week. His performance in a game like that will go a long way in determining Osweiler’s future with Denver.