Denver Broncos: QB controversy, or none at all?

Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) after the game against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) after the game against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

Do the Denver Broncos have a QB controversy? Peyton Manning replaced Brock Osweiler after the offense turned the ball over five times in Sunday’s win over the San Diego Chargers…

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it all…

Going into Sunday’s game, I found myself almost excited in some sort of sick way to see Peyton Manning as a backup QB in the NFL. Like having Nolan Ryan come out of the bullpen or Michael Jordan come off the bench, Peyton Manning not leading the charge of an NFL game was something no football fan had ever seen.

And as it turns out, it wasn’t that long before the Broncos’ coaching staff felt a need for no. 18 back out there on the field where he’s become a legend.

To no fault of Brock Osweiler’s (really, when you break it down), the Broncos’ offense turned the ball over five times on Sunday and at the early portion of the third quarter were up just 7-6 with the top seed in the playoffs on the line. If the Patriots had won on Sunday, you wonder if the coaches would have just left Osweiler in the game to figure things out…

…or maybe it was their plan all along to put Manning into the game.

As downright sad and dejected as we saw Manning after he was accused of using HGH, we saw a jovial and flat out cheery Peyton Manning after he was re-inserted into the lineup and helped bring the Broncos to a 27-20 victory with four scoring drives in four opportunities, including two touchdown drives.

A clinching scenario going into the playoffs seems like the worst possible time for the Broncos to create a QB controversy, which leads me to believe there never really was one in the first place. As much as we all believed or — to a degree — wanted to believe that this was Osweiler’s team from now forward, the short leash on Sunday is an indication that the move to Manning was probably coming sooner rather than later.

But what did Osweiler do to deserve getting benched? The Broncos struck early with a big play by Demaryius Thomas and were on their way to a 14-3 lead when Emmanuel Sanders started the turnover party. Sanders took a great catch and run inside the 10 yard line of the Chargers and was stripped of the ball.

The next possession, Osweiler was looking to hit Jordan Norwood for a big third down conversion, and the ball hit Norwood square in the hands. The only problem was, the ball ended up in the hands of a Chargers defender.

The very next possession, Osweiler and the Broncos were again rolling down the field when a blitzing defensive back blindsided the quarterback and he lost control of the ball just before he was able to throw it forward for an incomplete pass.

Things weren’t going well as the Broncos attempted to finish drives, but like he’s done all year, Osweiler had no problems moving the ball down the field in the first place.

A Britton Colquitt punt, a C.J. Anderson fumble, and another interception of Osweiler as he was hit when trying to get the ball to Demaryius Thomas sealed his fate in the eyes of Gary Kubiak. Five turnovers was enough to prompt the head coach to put Peyton Manning into the game, and offensive line coach Clancy Barone had also seen enough of Michael Schofield, who will be lucky to be on the roster next season.

Schofield was replaced by Tyler Polumbus almost simultaneously as Manning replaced Osweiler, and the offense started moving the ball and finishing drives.

Like Manning said after the game, it’s hard for him to take much credit when primarily what he was doing was handing the ball off, but with a home game and a top seed in the AFC playoff race, who are the Broncos going to trot out there at the QB position? It’s not that I don’t want it to be Osweiler. I think he deserves his shot.

It’s also not that I don’t want it to be Manning. He’s a living legend.

I don’t think the Broncos can mess this up, especially if both guys are heathy. Manning was horrid in the first nine games of this season as he struggled through a variety of injuries, primarily the one that affected his foot to the point that he has missed six games and two months of football.

The decision to pull Osweiler in the third quarter of a game of this magnitude is the biggest indicator to me of where the Broncos’ trust still lies at the QB position when push comes to shove. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just telling you what I see.

If there was a QB controversy, I didn’t see it on Sunday. It seems like the Broncos already knew that Manning was their guy all along.