The Denver Broncos have been looking for John Elway’s replacement at quarterback for more than a decade now. In this year’s draft, John Elway himself believes he’s finally found the guy: Brock Osweiler.
Since Elway’s retirement after the Denver Broncos’ second consecutive Super Bowl Championship, the Broncos have had 12 different starters, almost one every season.
In 1999 following Elway’s retirement, the Broncos had the young Brian Griese, son of quarterback great, Bob Griese who won two of three Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins in the 1970’s. Griese had the perfect pedigree and had a successful collegiate career at the University of Michigan.
However, in his four seasons at the helm for the Broncos, he lost the sole playoff game to the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 and Mike Shanahan saw fit to go after Jake Plummer to lead the team in 2003. During the Griese years, four other quarterbacks relieved him due to injury including Bubby Brister, Chris Miller, Gus Frerotte, and Steve Beuerlein.
Jake Plummer was a scrappy, scrambling quarterback that could run an amazing play-action fake, would roll out and was at his best on the run. Denver fans thought 2005 would be the year that the Broncos would be back in the Super Bowl, but suffered a horrible defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Conference Championship.
Every season with the Broncos, Plummer reached the playoffs, but never got them back to the big game. Plummer’s days were numbered however, after Shanahan selected Jay Cutler the next season 11th overall in 2006 draft.
The next season, Plummer gave way to Cutler after the team struggled and fans clamored that Cutler could be the next John Elway. In his two full seasons, however, Cutler was 17-20 as a starter until Josh McDaniels came into town.
McDaniels was a personnel nightmare. He was in way over his head and made a few crazy moves in his first offseason. Cutler, who can be described as a bit of baby during his tenure in Denver didn’t get along with McDaniels. McDaniels then started to shop him around.
Ultimately, the Chicago Bears were willing to part with Kyle Orton, and three early draft picks for Cutler. The 2009 picks they received was Robert Ayers in the first round and Richard Quinn in the third round. The other pick the Broncos received for Cutler was a first round choice in 2010, which was re-traded and moved around to equal one of the following: Demaryius Thomas (1st), Tim Tebow (1st) or Eric Decker (2nd).
Orton was very average in his three seasons from 2009 to 2011. In addition to his mediocrity, McDaniels’ gutting of the team in 2009 and 2010 didn’t help.
Tim Tebow’s arrival to the NFL was celebrated by some, and mocked by most. Tebow had a lot of raw skills and did many things well, but needed lots of work on his mechanics and accuracy. He was very dedicated to improving and effective in the red zone, but was ultimately shown the door this offseason after the Broncos signed the legendary Peyton Manning.
Manning is not Elway 2.0, he’s Manning. He is one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. If he had another Super Bowl ring, he might be seen as better than Elway. (Some might still view him as better without the ring.) Manning isn’t replacing Elway. Manning is taking the Broncos to the next level. Hopefully, from a Wild Card berth back to the Super Bowl this year or next.
However, Elway as the team’s Executive VP of Football Operations feels like he finally has Elway 2.0 and it’s his most recent draft pick, Brock Osweiler.
Recently, Elway praised Osweiler saying, “There’s not a better situation for Brock to be in and us to be able to set up the organization for 10 to 15 years, hopefully, to have somebody at that position you believe has the ability to win a Super Bowl.”
That’s a bold prediction. Especially for an organization that has changed directions at quarterback almost yearly.
Fans hope that Manning continues to gel with receivers and teammates this offseason in the team’s third game of the preseason against the San Francisco 49ers. It’s likely that the game on Sunday will be his final one until the team’s season opener against Pittsburgh Steelers in just a few weeks.
Osweiler is still a raw talent, but has his size at 6’8” going for him. Elway believes Osweiler is refining his game since coming to the NFL as well. It can’t hurt having a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback like Manning in front of you either.
For a team that has undergone so much turmoil at the QB position for so many years it would definitely be nice to have Manning under center for five seasons, and then Osweiler for another 10-15. Even saving top draft picks for other positions outside of quarterback would really help.