Sep 3, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) talks to quarterback Peyton Manning (18) before the preseason
DENVER - Each Tuesday during Denver Broncos' season, our Broncos Insider Mike Klis will answer questions pulled from the Broncos Mailbag.
Do you think Gary Kubiak has done a good job avoiding a huge QB controversy to this point, or has he made it exponentially worse for coming weeks? Like sweeping a mess under the rug?
DJ—In summary, the Broncos just finished the regular season with the No. 1 AFC playoff seed. The winning way is always the best way, DJ.
That doesn't mean we can't take a closer examination of the process. Initially, Kubiak's best move was putting Peyton Manning on the shelf. Keep in mind, the left heel injury that sidelined Manning for six weeks was the same injury he played with in game 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 15.
It was Manning's performance with the injury -- not just the injury itself -- that put him on the sidelines. Other coaches might have resisted. This quarterback situation generated not one decision but dozens. Had Manning played well and the Broncos beat the Chiefs back in November, he likely would have been the starting quarterback in game 10 at Chicago.
Kubiak, though, did the right thing by telling Manning to sit back and get healthy while giving Brock Osweiler much needed playing time. Much needed for Osweiler to show he could play. And because he's a free agent after this season, much needed for the Broncos to determine whether he could play.
It's safe to assume a healthy, if inexperienced Osweiler gave the Broncos a better chance to win than an unhealthy, highly-proven and experienced Manning.
Where Kubiak's handling of the quarterback situation is subject to debate, though, was after the Broncos lost to Pittsburgh. Neither after three consecutive victories nor after back-to-back losses did Kubiak definitively declare Osweiler as his starter. Kubiak always chose his words carefully. He was pushing this along week-to-week.
Had Manning been healthy two weeks ago, he would have started against the Cincinnati Bengals. Manning wasn't ready so Osweiler got another chance. Osweiler played well in victory, especially in the clutch, and deserved the start against San Diego.
The plan was for Osweiler to start in the regular-season finale, and then start for the Broncos in the playoffs. Make no mistake that was the plan.
Five turnovers changed the blueprint. I thought Osweiler was playing well against the Chargers, but his offensive teammates crumbled around him. The killer was Emmanuel Sanders' fumble at the Chargers' 5 to spoil the Broncos' second possession. Score there and its 14-0 and Manning never sees the field.
For the past six weeks [of] the Broncos season all I have heard you say was that Peyton should be replaced by Brock. Tonight you changed your tune that Peyton should be the man to play after his performance in the last game. You should be ashamed of yourself and do not deserve to be a sports anchor due to your ignorance and flip-flopping opinions. You are a JOKE!!! Can you really just flip on a dime and say Peyton is the one to go with while bashing him these past six weeks?
Very poor, very disappointing! I'm ashamed of you!
Mark Neifert, Parker
Mark—Strange what people hear. Just because I've been saying this is Osweiler's team -- the past seven weeks, by the way, not six – doesn't mean I was bashing Manning.
As for now saying Manning should be the starter going into the playoffs -- this opinion is not based on a belief he's a better quarterback than Osweiler. That's irrelevant at this point. This is based on how the circumstances played out Sunday.
When Kubiak pulled Osweiler and went with Manning, he sent the message he trusted the veteran more than the kid in a moment of crisis. Kubiak stated emphatically and expansively Monday his strong confidence in Osweiler. His action Sunday were in contrast to those words.
I thought had Osweiler stayed in, the Broncos still would have won. Maybe Kubiak thought that, too. But he thought his chances were better by inserting Manning.
The situation is now set up so that if Osweiler starts, everyone, including Broncos players, will be looking for Kubiak to make the switch at the first moment of trouble.
Let's say in two weeks, the Broncos win the toss and defer. Alex Smith leads his Kansas City Chiefs on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. It's 7-0 before the Broncos get the ball.
Osweiler then throws a dart through a receiver's hands and Eric Berry intercepts on the Broncos' side of the 50. The Chiefs get a field goal and it's 10-0.
What's the sellout crowd at Sports Authority Field at Mile High going to do at that point? We want Peyton! How many Manning Watch tweets past 250 will the media submit from the press box? What will the Broncos' players be wondering?
Osweiler would be a dead quarterback starting before his second possession.
You can't go into a playoff game that way.
As for calling me a joke, Mark, why … why I … why I oughta!
Hey Mike! Big fan of yours from Northern California. With all the controversy over which QB we should start even before we know which team we are playing is it so crazy to think that if we play Cincy, which has a much better secondary compared to Pittsburgh's, and that Osweiler played much better once we switched to an up tempo shotgun offense, to use Osweiler against Cincinnati, and Peyton Manning if we play against Pittsburg and their disaster of a backfield?
And here's an outside-the-box idea for you: What if we used Osweiler in between the 20's and Peyton in the red zone to switch it up?
Garrett—This is just my opinion but I think you are a much wiser Broncos observer than Mark. Seriously, I do like unconventional thoughts. Using Osweiler between the 20s and Manning in the red zone is especially intriguing. Any idea that maximizes strengths and minimizes weaknesses is worthy of consideration.
It will never happen. But I'll bet crazier ideas have come from offensive linemen meeting rooms ("Why don't we deflate the balls and just run it!'' Oh wait a minute. That was last year's joke. Before, you know, Deflategate).
As for your first point about playing one quarterback for one opponent and another opponent for another, I'm not wild about that one.
Come playoff time, I don't think it's WHO you play but HOW you play. The Steelers and Bengals each have strengths that can defeat the Broncos. They each have holes the Broncos can exploit.
The Indianapolis Colts were not a better team than the Broncos going into their second-round playoff game last season. But on that day, the Broncos stunk it up. Manning didn't play well. The Colts won. And then showed how ordinary they were by getting obliterated the following week in New England and going 8-8 this season.
The Broncos get another chance to play well when it counts this season. So, most likely, will Manning.
Congratulations on the new digs. Michael Schofield was benched for Tyler Polumbus in the third quarter of this past Sunday's game against the Chargers. Question: What is your opinion of Tyler's performance off the bench and why did the Broncos coaching staff wait so long to make a change at right tackle?
While the press keeps asking who will start the Broncos next game at QB, I keep wondering who the starting right tackle will be and how Tyler Polumbus and Schofield graded out in the SD game on PFF. Any idea?
Chris and David—When Manning came in, the Broncos started blocking better. Way better. Polumbus came in at right tackle at the exact same time as Manning. Of the 74,601 who stood up, roared and clapped at that moment, I bet only 74,559 were cheering for Manning.
Polumbus helped spring Ronnie Hillman on the game-winning, 23-yard touchdown run. And Polumbus did the job in pass protection. He got a tough break on the sack he allowed Melvin Ingram in the fourth quarter. Polumbus actually pancaked Ingram to the ground, but Manning looked and looked and looked downfield and couldn't find anyone open. Ingram got off the ground and tackled Manning from behind.
I say Schofield is the Broncos' right tackle from Day 1 next year (providing Ty Sambrailo stays at left tackle), but Polumbus gets the nod in the playoffs. Polumbus is an NFL vet of eight seasons -- and most of his playing time has been at right tackle. He went the Cherry Creek High School. He went to the University of Colorado. He's a former Bronco and a current Bronco.
How can you not play Polumbus?
Last night (Sunday) on Broncos Tonight you made the comment that Peyton would not be back next year and that Brock would be; both of which sounded very definitive.
What are you being told about these situations and could they change?
Chip—Manning is 39, coming off back-to-back seasons in which he broke down with lower-body injuries, and is scheduled to make $19 million next year. When he's 40. He is not coming back to the Broncos.
Osweiler most likely will, but there is work to do, yet. The Broncos have to sign him to a multi-year contract that would pay him at least $10 million a year. He does want to come back. He wouldn't come back if Manning does, though. Not because of any ill-will between the two. There's none of that. It's just Osweiler has graduated from apprentice.
The future for Osweiler is much brighter than Manning's, at least in terms of playing NFL quarterback.
Can it change? If the Broncos win Super Bowl 50 and Manning carries them through, it will be far difficult to say goodbye. I still think they part ways. But there will be considerably more contemplation.
Does the decision to bring back Manning in the 2nd half (and maybe going forward into the playoffs) possibly "poison the well" in terms of re-signing Brock in the off season?
--Alex Freeman, Boiling Springs SC
Hey Mike - assuming Peyton starts (and plays) throughout the playoffs will Brock be bitter about signing with the Broncos for a long term deal?
--Kirill Shepelenko, Houston
Thanks for your excellent coverage of the Broncos. What is the situation with Brock signing a long term contract with the Broncos after the season? Is he the main choice for QB next year? Is he likely to look elsewhere based on his "benching" yesterday? Does he feel slighted by the team?
Alex, Kirill, John--As you can see, multiple mailbaggers had similar questions. Getting benched in the second half – and Manning starting the Broncos' second-round playoff game if that happens as expected – won't make Osweiler happy. No sir. He won't show it publicly but he is a competitor. He will not be pleased.
But if Manning retires after this season or the Broncos release him, and the Broncos offer Osweiler a contract of, say, three years and $35 million, he'll be back. Money, and the promise of a starting job in 2016, is a great way to say you're sorry.
Did Peyton get the all-time wins record after Sunday or does he have to start to get it? I'm not sure how that works.
Ramie Enriquez, Pueblo West, CO
Ramie—He did not get the record outright. He does still have a share of the wins record with Brett Favre, each with 186. Only the starting quarterback officially gets credit, or blame, for the win or loss.
Yes, the rule may have cost Manning this time. But to finish the 2005 season with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning played one series against the Arizona Cardinals, went 1 of 2 for 5 yards and left with the score 0-0. Jim Sorgi threw two touchdown passes to lead the Colts to a 17-13 victory.
Yet, Manning got credit for the win. So let's call Favre and Manning even in total wins, although Manning had 33 fewer career losses.
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