This morning I read an article on NFL.com by Dan Hanzus about the Denver Broncos needing a legitimate back-up quarterback to Peyton Manning. Well, I don’t know Dan Hanzus (no personal attacks in here), but I don’t think he knows much if anything about the Denver Broncos and their quarterback situation besides the obvious. Everyone knows that obvious; Peyton Manning is starting and could get hurt, Tim Tebow was traded, and Brock Osweiler was drafted. Outside of this, only the Denver Broncos fans with nerd-like dedication know that there’s some reading between the lines for the quarterback situation.
Dan does pose a good question – Who will back-up Peyton Manning if he gets knocked out of the starting position due to an injury? The problem I have with the article is that there was no solution or even a theory besides “Brock Osweiler will back him up”. It was just an article that posed a long question that wasn’t answered. So naturally I decided to answer that question with my own blog post.
Let me start off saying that the Broncos did draft Brock Osweiler with their second pick in the second round and traded away Tim Tebow. But for the case that Osweiler will be back up…..Brock is going to be third string for this season, and that’s a given.
From my perspective, Brock has all the measurables and the upside of being a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he doesn’t have the experience of running an NFL offense or reading an NFL defense. Osweiler can’t be more ready than traded quarterback Tim Tebow who couldn’t read an NFL defense proficiently. Tebow’s played more than Brock at any level. So remind me again, why would Brock be given the back-up job? He shouldn’t and won’t be back up this year. He could be back-up towards the end of the season if he has exceptional football knowledge that would rival Peyton Manning which is yet to be determined. To me, Brock Osweiler reminds me more of Philip Rivers who has exceptional talent and a knack for making the right throws, but even Rivers can read a defense and pick them apart which Osweiler needs to learn and improve. Osweiler is two to three years away from starting in the NFL.
The Broncos have not one, but possibly two quarterback back-ups ready to play behind Peyton Manning, Caleb Hanie and unknown undrafted Adam Webber. If you didn’t read the article in the Denver Post a few weeks back, Adam Webber was the second quarterback in OTAs (Off season Training Activities) and Caleb Hanie was third while Osweiler was forth in the rotation out of four. Now, don’t draw too much from this, it is still just OTAs, but it does mean that Adam Webber and Caleb Hanie understand the offense more than Osweiler. Typically, this early in the season, quarterbacks that understand the offense more will be higher on the depth chart over the quarterback that has the ability, measureables, and the “it” factor (see training camp rosters with Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton).
My prediction is that Caleb Hanie will be the second string quarterback in training camp and going into the season backing-up Peyton Manning. John Fox and John Elway want a back-up that will manage the game, hand off to the running back and throw high completion percentage passes and not turn the ball over too often. Hanie has this potential as shown in his almost upset victory of the Green Bay Packers in the 2010 NFC Championship game, and his almost win against the Denver Broncos last season if it wasn’t for bad decisions by a certain running back that just retired (Read: Marion Barber). The real back-up to Peyton Manning is the running game and the defense. The Broncos will be able to win games only scoring about 21 points a game.
With a game manager and a solid field goal kicker in Matt Prater (who just signed a four year contract to be the fifth highest paid kicker in the NFL) the Broncos can stay close and win it late in the game. Think about it. The Broncos won games last year because they were still in the game thanks to a stingy defense going into the fourth quarter with an offense that didn’t exist until Tebow Time kicked in late in the quarter (Matt Prater had 4 game winning field goals last year)! If the Broncos can apply that same defense and not turn the ball over, they will still have a legitimate chance to win the game. Caleb Hanie is going give that chance to the Broncos. Kyle Orton would have given that to the Broncos too, but with the fan hostility toward Orton and the fact that he was a left over from the Josh McDaniels era, Elway and Fox needed a new game manager; enter Caleb Hanie.
Adam Webber has a tough battle in front of him. He can be a quarterback in the NFL, but he’s going to have to displace Caleb Hanie or get signed to the Broncos practice squad again. He won’t displace the quarterback of the future hand picked by John Elway, he can only hope that he either gets signed onto another team from the practice squad or can win a Broncos back-up job next year. He has the ability, he just needs the chance. Don’t expect him to be on the Broncos game day roster come September 9th (unless an injury keeps him there).
There you have it Dan. Next time you write an article the editor thinks is a good piece, come to me and I’ll be more than happy to be your ghost writer to give you some more substance. I can be your back-up; laces out Dan.