Following the 2011 season, the Denver Broncos ended the Tim Tebow era in an instant with the signing of Peyton Manning. Though they added one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, he was aging and coming off of multiple neck surgeries.
Manning proved he was well worth the gamble with a stellar 2012 season, one of his best statistically. Still, the Broncos knew they would need a backup plan, and that led to them selecting Brock Osweiler in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft.
Osweiler was barely used as a rookie, which shouldn't be a surprise. That will be the case as long as Manning is in town and healthy. At the same time, the Broncos are faced with the challenge of developing the 22-year-old Osweiler as they go after a Super Bowl with Manning.
What do the Broncos have? Do they have a future long-term starter or a player who will go down the same path of Brian Griese? If we only have preseason games to go off of, that will be hard to determine.
Backup quarterback Brock Osweiler is looking good heading into second season with Broncos http://t.co/ZSfeKRE8ZA— Coloradoan Sports (@ColoradoanSpts) June 11, 2013
This is where fans will have to trust the organization. After all, a four-time league MVP is running the system Osweiler is learning. He has plenty of admirable traits as well.
Osweiler is 6'8" but has rare mobility for a player his size. He has great arm strength and, combined with his scrambling ability, can turn a broken play into a big one, much like Ben Roethlisberger. The big question will be his ability to read defenses.
Osweiler may be the backup to Manning, but he will have his second offensive coordinator in as many years as the team has transitioned to Adam Gase after Mike McCoy bolted for San Diego. How will that affect his progression?
Osweiler should get a long look in the team's preseason games, but fans won't really know what the team has until he gets in when it matters. If the Broncos have their way, that won't be until Manning calls it a career, hopefully with at least one more Lombardi Trophy in tow.
However, preparing Osweiler for that day needs to be a major area of focus for the team. If not, it may be soon faced with a very tough question. If Osweiler isn't the future, who is?