Denver, CO. The Denver Broncos, their fans, and everyone who follows the NFL at all knows what the plan is for the forseeable future. It’s no secret to anyone, this franchise paid $100 million to a certain someone for him to run the show and hopefully take this team to the promised land in early February. “Plan A” for the next five years involves letting #18 do his thing, take complete control of the Denver Broncos offense, and make them legitimate contenders in the AFC beginning no later than now. Denver has obviously pushed all of their chips to the middle of the table, and made it quite apparent that they are committed to doing what it takes to win the big prize at the end of the rainbow. They have invested their immediate future in a QB who missed all of 2011, which is typically a move that would not be recommended for any team to make. But this QB has a unique drive and hunger to still be great, and all indications point to him being plenty motivated to do great things as a Bronco. But as well know, injuries do happen, and something along this 2012 voyage could change the course of the Denver Broncos season. If for some reason Peyton gets nicked up, or even worse, suffers a long-term injury at some point this year, what is “Plan B”? Well, the Broncos front office made it clear that there really isn’t a “Plan B”. However, if #18 is unable to play for any length of time, who will be the guy under center and the next QB in the chain of command? That answer should be announced in the next few days, but the best option to back up the future Hall of Famer should be rookie Brock Osweiler.
Brock Osweiler was drafted back in April with one real purpose in mind. He was chosen to hopefully be the guy to run the Denver Broncos offense in roughly five years or so. The rookie from Arizona State showed a lot of raw ability in college, and a pro caliber arm as well. Really nobody thought he was ready to be an NFL QB now, as that was the main reason he wasn’t a first round pick. At 6’7″, his physical attributes are quite impressive, and being in a situation where he can sit and learn was really ideal. He could not have landed in a situation that is more perfect for what will be best for him long-term. Sitting in meetings, taking practice snaps, and talking the game with Peyton Manning should teach this kid what being a pro is all about. Shortly after signing Manning, the Broncos acquired Caleb Hanie. Obviously the idea here was bringing in a fairly cheap veteran who has taken snaps in real NFL games. Hanie has been in Chicago for a few years, and has been thrust into some very meaningful games the last couple of seasons. His experience was why he was brought here, and if something unfortunate happened to Peyton, Hanie could at least run the offense with some success. But upon watching Hanie in Chicago and seeing what he has done in Denver so far, one thing has become painfully clear. He really isn’t very good. Yes, he has experience in the NFL, but quite honestly more often than not, he has looked….awful. When he had to start late last year for the Bears, the team fell apart around him. Backup QB’s are not expected to run the offense as well as the starter, but something close is to be expected. Hanie’s decision-making has been erratic, and his arm is just ok. The bottom line is, he didn’t do anything in the windy city to impress anyone. Has he looked any different in Denver? No, he hasn’t. Last weekend, he finally made a few nice plays, including a TD pass to Joel Dreessen versus San Francisco. But too often throughout his brief career, he just looks average at best, and nothing about his game screams that he would be the next best option if Manning goes down.
I do understand that handing the backup job to Brock Osweiler now would be a risky proposition. He won’t be 22 years old until November, and that has to scare Denver’s men in charge, and their fans as well. But in his brief time on the field in these preseason games, he has already shown why the Broncos selected him four months ago. He has an outstanding arm, is very athletic for being a big guy, and doesn’t shy away from pressure in his face. Aside from previous NFL experience, there isn’t a single thing that Hanie has over Osweiler at this point. Bottom line is, the Denver Broncos should release Caleb Hanie. For those fans who say they need an experienced backup in case Manning gets hurt, I say look at what happened in Chicago last year. It didn’t work. It’s not like the Broncos will be serious contenders if #18 is unable to play anyway. With this being said, Osweiler should be the second stringer in Denver, with Adam Weber as the emergency third stringer. If worse comes to worse, and Osweiler has to play at any point this year, it will be some really valuable experience for him down the road. And what if he did play, and the team won some games? His upside and ceiling is so much higher than Hanie’s, it’s not even comparable. The Broncos know that if Peyton were to get hurt for any serious length of time, the season is probably not going to be a successful one. So why not give the backup job to the rookie, and potentially see what he can do if given the opportunity? By keeping Hanie, Denver is just stunting the growth of the QB who they will be relying upon when Manning hangs up his cleats.
Denver Sports by J Simp