Blind faith is not one of those things we sports fans do well.
Logic can sometimes be complicated as well.
The situation in Denver is this: Peyton Manning is one of the best, if not the best Quarterback to ever play the game. In his last four years in Denver he’s been one of the biggest reasons why the Broncos have consistently fielded one of the best teams in the league. Peyton Manning is a stand-up guy, a good person, and a great teammate. He’s missed six games this season with plantar fasciitis and an assortment of other small ailments, among them, a rib-cage injury. He still leads the league in interceptions with seventeen.
What does that even mean, you ask? What am I trying to say here?
Nothing yet. I’m just stating the facts.
Like most Broncos fans, I’m a big Peyton Manning fan as well. I wasn’t always so. Peyton was always one of those guys you couldn’t help but respect, and yet, love only came when he became my QB. That’s usually the way it is with the greats. You know they’re good, and you might even admire them from afar, but you can’t really love them. Not unless they’re yours.
As a fan of Peyton Manning the player it’s hard to think that I might have seen him play his last snap in the NFL in what looked to be a meaningless game against Kansas City. As a fan of Peyton Manning the player it’s heartbreaking to think that he might be sitting in the bench while his team squanders his last chance at another ring. As a fan of Peyton Manning the player I can’t help but close my eyes and wish we were back in 2013, when he played that perfect, memorable season. As a Broncos fan, however, how can I root for the guy who leads the league in interceptions?
And, at the same time, how can I not?
I’ve been a Broncos fan going on twenty years. I love Peyton, yes, but I loved Elway, liked Brian Griese, had faith in Cutler, rejoiced when Tebow led us to the playoffs and even enjoyed Jake Plummer. I’ve had many loves, and will probably have many more. Such is the life of a fan. But, when push comes to shove, I’m a Broncos fan before I’m a Peyton fan. And that makes all the difference.
Brock Osweiler is young, mobile and smart. He fits Kubiak’s system much better than Peyton. He makes good decisions, has a strong arm and is arguably the QB of the future in Denver. He’s not perfect, but with time and experience, he could be an elite quarterback in the NFL. That’s not something I expected to figure out this year. You know why? Because I expected Peyton be, well, Peyton.
Peyton has been anything but Peyton this year.
Does that mean he’s done? Maybe not. Maybe the injuries are to blame for all his struggles this season. It’s not easy adjusting to a new system, and it’s particularly difficult to do so when you’re not one-hundred percent. He’s not playing today, that’s for sure, and that’s a good thing. He’s not ready. But what about the next game? And, if it comes, the one after that?
What’s the right call here?
I’ve been mulling this for a while. What do I want, as a fan? What does the team need? What’s the best course of action?
Maybe we can’t know that. Not until we know what question we’re actually asking.
From the outside, this has all the makings of a quarterback controversy. The young and the old, the veteran and the upstart. Except, in Denver, they know QB controversies. They’ve lived of QB controversies ever since Elway retired, after all. And this? This doesn’t feel like that. It feels like something else. This isn’t really about Peyton or Brock. It’s about the team.
What do the Broncos want? What do they hope to get from this season? How far do they see themselves getting? Is the SuperBowl still an achievable goal? If so, how can you go with anything but the Hall-of-Fame quarterback, if he’s healthy? How can you look at the game film, study the opponents, draw up a game-plan and decide that the young guy gives you a better shot at glory than Peyton Manning? How?
However, if the goal is simply to advance in the playoffs and put the team in the best position possible to make it back sooner rather than later, to win, maybe not now, but next year, or a couple years down the line, then how can you give Peyton the team back? Isn’t it a better idea to give your young quarterback some time and playoff experience?
So, here’s the deal with the Broncos. Yes, they need to decide who’s playing quarterback when the playoffs start. But first, they need to decide what they’re playing for. And that seems like a more daunting task.
The Broncos finish off the regular season today, against the San Diego Chargers, at 4:25 PM. Brock Osweiler is expected to start.