The Broncos are now 10-2 and 3-0 under the young, fresh arm of QB Brock Osweiler. A first round bye and/or home field advantage in the playoffs is suddenly very realistic. The situation could get murky when 39 year old legendary veteran starter Peyton Manning gets healthy. All anyone wants to talk about is what head coach Gary Kubiak will do when that time comes. As a diehard Broncos fan, I am here to tell you it does not really matter.
Denver’s defensive dominance this year has been nothing short of amazing. They are in the top five in every major statistical category including leading the league in sacks, points per game, yards per game, and defensive touchdowns. These kind of defensive numbers are not a flash in the pan. We are 13 weeks into the season. A defense like this also makes the formula for the Broncos to win games and ultimately a Super Bowl real simple.
Whoever plays QB for Denver going forward, the objective is clear. Generate two or three scoring drives a game, limit turnovers, and let the defense do the rest. Denver will win a lot of games in the last part of the season like this. This formula requires the QB to complete five or six “must have” throws per game. Both Manning and Osweiler have had shining moments nailing these “must have” throws this year. Despite throwing multiple INTs in both outings, Manning engineered two late scoring drives on the road to knock off the Browns and Chiefs. Osweiler had a similar coming out party against the then undefeated Patriots in the snow. When comparing the tow Manning’s 17 INTs compared to Osweiler’s 3 jumps out. However, Manning has started more than double the games Osweiler and was clearly playing injured for some of the year before taking a seat.
The point is both guys are capable of doing what needs to be done for Denver to win it all when healthy. Both QBs have different strengths and weaknesses. The offense looks different under each guy, but the formula above remains unchanged. Osweiler’s mobility allows the entire run game to function better. However, Manning reads defenses better and seems to have better chemistry with the wide receivers. The offensive line needs to block better no matter who is slinging the ball around, Thus, head coach Gary Kubiak has a tough choice to make.
Kubiak has handled this brilliantly, especially when you consider who Peyton Manning is and what he has done. He has named Osweiler the starter each Monday since Manning’s disastrous four INT outing in the first half against KC at home. He has continued to speak highly of Manning’s recovery since the foot injury, while describing the QB situation as “week to week.”
Osweiler will start again this week vs. the Raiders, but Kubiak also said Manning will start throwing. This means he could be cleared for next week on the road against the Steelers. How would I handle this going forward? With Denver winning and Osweiler doing all that he is asked to. I see no need to rush Manning back. I would also start Osweiler the next two weeks for very meaningful and tough games against the Steelers and Bengals. If healthy, I would have Manning start the regular season finale vs. San Diego. Then, I would decide on a starter for the playoffs. However, the fact remains the Broncos will go as far as their defense takes them.