As the Denver Broncos are highly expected to move on from quarterback Russell Wilson in the offseason and look elsewhere for a replacement, now raises the question: who will be the next starter? Monday afternoon, Broncos players cleaned out their lockers in preparation for a long break before the offseason program and were quick to make their preference clear regarding the starting quarterback in 2024.
"I think Stiddy's [Jarrett Stidham] a very smart quarterback. He knows how to read defenses. He knows how to make plays and put the ball in playmakers hands so I feel he can do it all as a quarterback."- Jerry Jeudy on Jarrett Stidham
In a way, it felt like a subtle diss at quarterback Russell Wilson, who for certain, struggled to read defenses and put the ball in his playmakers' hands this season. While this may not be interpreted as a vouch for Stidham as next year's starting quarterback, Jeudy had also praised his quarterback following the Week 17 victory against Los Angeles:
"He's a great passer. He throws a pretty ball, is great at anticipating routes, and does everything you need from a quarterback."- Jerry Jeudy on Jarrett Stidham
In addition to Jeudy, fellow wide receiver Brandon Johnson also chimed in on the possibility of Stidham returning as the starter in 2024:
"Stiddy has great confidence. He has a certain type of poise out there. He brings everybody comfort in the huddle. I don't know what will happen next year but regardless, if it is Stiddy man, I'm excited."- Brandon Johnson on Jarrett Stidham
Johnson, who caught four of Stidham's passes for a career-high 88 yards in the season finale, had some high praise for his quarterback. To state that he would be "excited" for Stidham to return as the starter is noteworthy. It is evident from interviews and even broadcast coverage during the final two games that Denver's receivers were much happier with their involvement in the offense, especially considering their increased target share.
Coming into the final two weeks of the regular season, Johnson had recorded just 11 receptions through his first 11 games of the year. In the last two games, he received 11 targets and caught eight passes in those games. Jerry Jeudy caught six passes for 133 yards and a touchdown in the final two games while finally being targeted over the middle of the field as he should have been during his other 14 games.
While the locker room may have mixed feelings about the decision to bench Russell Wilson the final two weeks of the season, it was the proper football decision for the offense and the increased production by the passing game proves exactly that. Stidham's pocket presence, disciplined eyes, and 248 passing yards per game were far better than Wilson's and thus a big reason for Brandon Johnson's praise for Stidham. It will be interesting to see how Denver addresses their quarterback situation this offseason.