We here on Broncos’ Planet don’t even want to think about the day when Peyton Manning – or to whom we affectionately refer as Peyton “Freakin” Manning – hangs up the cleats for good. However, I am a realist and the fact is, that day is likely no more than two years away. This will not be the first post-Hall-of-Fame-QB-malaise for us. That said, we must ask about the future options at the quarterback position for the Denver Broncos? On the surface, it would seem that 3rd year quarterback, Brock Osweiler is being groomed to be the heir-apparent to PFM once he calls it a career. Of course that is not written in stone…heck, it’s not even written on parchment paper at this point. Though on the Broncos’ website, there is a small piece by Andrew Mason, an independent analyst, which was the primary part of his recap of Monday’s OTAs which chronicles some positive progress from the erstwhile Osweiler (like that alliteration?).
This caught my eye because I seem to be one of the few people that I know or of whom I’ve heard speak favorably about Osweiler and his prospects as a good long-term option at QB for the post-Manning Broncos. Unlike many, when Brock’s name was called in round two (53rd overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft, I was pretty excited. Recruited to Gonzaga University as a basketball player, Osweiler chose to play football at Arizona State University instead. He soon became one of the Pac 12’s standout quarterbacks. Brock threw for 300+ yards in 7 of his 15 games at ASU and in 2011, in four games against ranked opponents on the ASU schedule, Osweiler went 108-of-157 (68.8%) for 1,262 yards, 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. That comports to a 151.4 QB rating. Furthermore, he became only the fourth quarterback in Pac-12 history to throw for over 4000 yards. So while we don’t have any real sample size of NFL experience, at the highest level of college football, he not only played well, but played at his best in the Sun Devils’ biggest games. Also, guys recruited to play major Division 1 college basketball seem to have transitioned fairly well to the NFL.
So what is it, you ask, that makes me optimistic about the Broncos’ future with Brock Osweiler? Well let’s start with his size. At 6’8″, Osweiler will not need throwing lanes created for him like many shorter quarterbacks. At 240 lbs., sacking him will not be so easy and as such, the difficulty in bringing him down is sure to extend plays that otherwise would end with a QB the size of a Drew Brees or Matthew Stafford. Now let’s talk arm strength. As one might derive from a guy who is 6’8″and 240, Osweiler has to have a big arm, right? Honestly, I have not seen any footage to support that assumption. What I have seen, however, is an ability to throw the 30-40 yard pass, the swing pass to a running back in the flat, and a fade with very nice touch. In addition, he is mobile in the pocket and has the ability to tuck the ball and run if needed, though that is not his first option. Certainly we know that is not something that even Peyton really has in his arsenal (last year’s Dallas game notwithstanding).
It’s that kind of versatility the Broncos are going to need in the next chapter of its history. It’s pretty easy to hand the ball to Manning and say, “go dominate and win us a bunch of games!” And to do so, it relies solely a little protection/time, some very good receivers and PFM does the rest. I myself, like a more versatile offense; one that can not only pick you apart in the passing game but one that also can run the ball down your throat at will. This not only wears opposing defenses out but it opens up the play-action passing game and provides the ability to run out the clock late in games. As of right now, we have the passing game perfected, but the running game is virtually non-existent. And these are all tools that can only help a young quarterback at the beginning of his career.
Don’t get me wrong, if you asked me if I would take PFM on my team 100 times, 100 times I would answer, “OH HECK YEAH!!!”
<<<O.K. I’m back>>>
Now this is not a Brock Osweiler love fest. He has a lot of work ahead of him. In footage I watched from the 2011 Las Vegas Bowl against Boise St., his decision making left a lot to be desired; like throwing into double and triple-coverage and risking an interception rather than throwing the ball away and living to play another down. However, he was 21 years old at the time and still pretty raw. I am concerned that Osweiler didn’t get enough experience, having only played one full season at ASU before declaring for the NFL Draft. However, fast-forward three years and he’s now being mentored by arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, Peyton “Freakin” Manning. In a 2012 interview, Osweiler discussed how fortunate he is to be around and learn from the very best. In addition to working along side of Manning, he has the endorsement of another one of those guys who is in the “Greatest QB of all Time” debate, John Elway. Elway liked what he saw so much that he moved up to get Osweiler in the 2012 draft and as of yet, I have not heard any disparaging remarks come from him or the coaching staff.
Ultimately, another option for the Broncos’ future quarterbacking duties may be sought. Denver has another great college quarterback on their roster in the form of Miami of Ohio’s, Zac Dysert. One has to believe that Elway must see something to use an all-to-valuable draft pick on him. OR maybe our future signal caller is still in college, on another NFL roster, or playing for Gene Simmons’ and Paul Stanley’s L.A. Kiss. Who knows?
In any event, I might be putting the Brock before the horse, but we do need to start preparing mentally for life after PFM. It’s only going to make the landing a little bit softer. And where we stand at this very moment, Brock Osweiler is as viable an option as any.