it’s what you want. It’s what the Broncos want. It’s what their hopes of winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl in the 21st century rest upon.
And it might not work out that way.
For all the buzz around John Elway’s proclamation that “We don’t have a Plan B!” at the Peyton Manning introductory press conference on March 20, the truth is that the Broncos had to work on one — and that Caleb Hanie, a free-agent signee from the Chicago Bears, couldn’t be it. Hanie’s limitations were on full display during an 0-4 performance as Chicago’s starter in relief of Jay Cutler last year, and the fact that the peripatetic Josh McCown stepped in and immediately — and drastically — improved Chicago’s offensive efficiency showed what Hanie’s ceiling appeared to be.
Brock Osweiler isn’t just the long-term, high-upside, howitzer-armed future of the Broncos’ quarterback position. He’s likely to be the backup quarterback right now.
Although he would almost certainly be as jagged and raw as the Andes if asked to contribute as a rookie — after all, he’s only started one full season at Arizona State — his potential makes the possibility of profound week-to-week growth a realistic one.
“I’ll be ready to roll,” he said when asked how he would react if he was forced into the lineup because of a Manning injury.
The Broncos got the answers they sought from a workout they held with Osweiler at Arizona State on April 6. Most of the Broncos’ cognoscenti were on hand, led by Elway, general manager Brian Xanders, coach John Fox, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterbacks coach Adam Gase.
McCoy and Gase led the workout, Osweiler recalled, and Elway hung back for a while. But from the time he spent with the Broncos, the 6-foot-7 quarterback sensed a bond.
“It was hard to tell, but the one thing that I did truly feel from my meeting and workout with them was just a great connection with the coaching staff,” Osweiler said.
“I really felt like John Elway and myself just hit it off. I just got a great feel from being on the field with the coaching staff.”
It didn’t hurt that Osweiler had previously established a friendship with Jack Elway, John’s son and a former Arizona State quarterback.
What will be more important now is Osweiler’s relationship with Manning. As long as the future Hall of Famer remains healthy, Osweiler’s place will be as the understudy. His apprenticeship might last four seasons; it might last four months. Until Manning takes a few hits and gets back up, there’s no way to truly know.
If his time as backup is measured in years, Osweiler insists that he will handle it well.
“One thing Peyton does maybe better than any quarterback in the game is prepare mentally for the football game,” he said. “I can’t wait to get into the meeting room and pick his brain as much as I can, and sit back and enjoy how much he enjoys to prepare for a game each weekend and in the offseason as well.”
He might have years. He might only have months. For the Broncos and Osweiler, the more time they have, the better.
But at least now, the Broncos have a ‘Plan B.’