The Denver Broncos are looking for big things this year in Vic Fangio’s third year as head coach in the Mile High City. They have good reasons for optimism. Their defense has been stocked with high draft choices and the offense, which has been a major obstacle for picking up wins for Denver in recent years, is entrusted to veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The Broncos have had as much trouble finding a capable signal caller since the retirement of Peyton Manning as an eighth grader with severe acne trying to get a date for the big dance. For 16 seasons the Broncos had one of the all-time great quarterbacks directing their offense with John Elway. He retired in 1998 following a pair of Super Bowl wins and in 2011 was named the Broncos general manager.
In his first year at the helm of the organization, Elway watched a pair of struggling quarterbacks guide the Broncos offense, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow. Even though Tebow had led an inspired and surprising trip to the postseason, and an upset overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Wild Card game, Elway knew Tebow was not the future for the Broncos.
In his best move as general manager, in 2012 Elway lured Peyton Manning to Denver, along with a promise to provide all the tools he needed to win the Super Bowl. It took four seasons in Denver for Manning to reach the apex of the football world, but in his four seasons with the Broncos Manning twice led Denver to the Super Bowl and won it in his final professional game to complete the 2015 season.
Manning’s likely replacement at quarterback in Denver was Brock Osweiler, who the Broncos acquired with a second round draft choice in the same year they signed Manning. What could be better for Osweiler than having four years to study under the watchful eyes of two of the best ever to play quarterback, Elway and Manning, and then take over a Super Bowl defending champion?
Seems for Osweiler, a big contract from the Houston Texans was better, and perhaps not so surprising Elway did little to stop him from leaving town. Denver was ready to move on with first round draft choice Paxton Lynch. That didn’t work, and neither have any of the other replacements the Broncos have plugged in behind center since Manning retired.
Elway and the Broncos have tried everything to fill their quarterback needs from high draft picks, to free agents to undrafted longshots. Nothing has worked.
In the two years Fangio has coached the Broncos, the string of men lining up behind the Broncos center could fill a clown car.
The three signal callers Fangio tried during his first season on the Broncos sideline included one-time Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco. That didn’t work. Brandon Allen, that didn’t work, and Denver’s second round pick in 2019, Drew Lock. That trio of signal callers led the Broncos to a seven win and nine loss season.
Last year, four quarterbacks lined up for the Broncos with even less success. Lock was joined by Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien and Kendall Hinton. Kendall who? Right. Hinton is a wide receiver but was forced to play quarterback when Driskel tested positive for covid-19 and it was discovered that the quarterbacks had tried to hide the fact that they met in close proximity during a quarterback meeting. You can’t make this stuff up. The trio of Denver quarterbacks placed their monitoring devices designed to track infections on opposite corners in their meeting room and then went about their business. When the league discovered it, they were all declared ineligible and league officials were not interested in rescheduling the Broncos game based on their deceptive activities.
Kendall is oh and one as an NFL starting quarterback, as the Broncos were downed by the New Orleans Saints 31-3 in his emergency start in which he completed only one of nine pass attempts.
This year, the Broncos signed veteran Teddy Bridgewater to battle Lock for the starting role. The one-time starter and 2014 first round draft choice of the Vikings won the job and will be behind center when the Broncos open their season on the road against the New York Giants.
Bridgewater has had an interesting career. He appeared poised to lead a talented and Super Bowl contending Vikings squad in 2016 when his campaign was derailed by a preseason injury suffered at a practice before opening day. The injury took Bridgewater out of the equation in Minnesota, they later acquired free agent Kirk Cousins, and the once promising career of Bridgewater has been on an uncharted path ever since.
What we have is a Broncos team that hasn’t had a winning record in Fangio’s first two years as head coach and starting their seventh different quarterback during his three year tenure.
Meanwhile, the Giants serve up third-year quarterback Daniel Jones, and head coach Joe Judge is in his second year at the helm of the long-suffering New York franchise.
Is this the time to jump on the Giants?
But, more importantly, it is time to go against the Broncos in this spot where they are a bet-on road favorite while still not compiling a winning record with Fangio. Even if the Broncos have a breakthrough year, even if they were to win 16 of their 17 regular season games, this is the one they lose.
Whenever expectations step in front of actual results, problems follow.
The Giants get a boost in their home opener because the Broncos are not ready to ride.
Qoxhi Picks: New York Giants (+3) over Denver Broncos