When the Denver Broncos selected Brock Osweiler in the second round, he was instantly anointed the team's "quarterback of the future." A quick glance at the Broncos roster leads one to a quick conclusion that Osweiler is probably the backup quarterback of the present.
The team signed Caleb Hanie in March after adding Manning. They are obviously very aware of the questions about Manning's health, as they have outs after each year of Manning's contract if he fails a physical.
This makes the signing of one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL in 2012 very curious. Hanie only completed more than half of his passes and threw less than three interceptions against the Broncos in his four starts, so perhaps the team was impressed by his 12-for-19 for 115 yards hyperconservative performance?
Denver Post beat writer Mike Klis suggested after the signing that Broncos saw something in Hanie that his lack of production did not reveal. According to Klis, the Broncos thought Chicago's poor offensive line and missing star running back Matt Forte put Hanie in a "difficult situation."
The Broncos would be the ones in a difficult situation if Manning goes down and the team is forced to go to Hanie. According to Cecil Lammey of ESPN 102.3 FM in Denver, Hanie had less zip on his throws than third-stringer Adam Weber at a recent OTA practice. Lammey used the words "slow," "deliberate" and "float" to describe Hanie's motion and throws.
Here's an alternative theory to Klis's: The Broncos knew they were going to draft a quarterback high in April and didn't feel urgency to sign a solid backup in March. Hanie's lack of skill let him down as much as his supporting cast, and his skill set is nothing like Manning's.
Osweiler, on the other hand, is a very sturdy quarterback with good arm strength.
Plugging in a rookie as a backup is nothing new for teams in championship windows. Sixth-round pick Tyrod Taylor backed up Joe Flacco last year. Undrafted free agent Brian Hoyer backed up Tom Brady the year after his torn ACL. Look for Osweiler to be the next rookie backup quarterback on a team with Super Bowl aspirations.