The Denver Broncos did something extremely important over the weekend – they won without Peyton Manning behind center.
As odd as that sounds, the 8-1 Broncos will have to face the reality that at some point, Manning will not be the team’s starting quarterback and Brock Osweiler, or some other passer, will have the keys to the Broncos offense.
The 17-15 win over Chicago kept Denver moving forward and gave the team momentum as they move toward their game with New England this coming weekend. It has been reported already, by NFL.com, that Osweiler will get the nod again to play against the Patriots as Manning gets a second opinion on his ailing foot.
Wait! No Manning vs. Tom Brady talk? Blasphemy! This cannot be happening. Roger Goodell must be weeping in a corner in his office.
Osweiler made the first start of his career on Sunday, throwing two touchdown passes without an interception. The game was played on Osweiler’s 25th birthday.
“It was encouraging for the first start in this league,” coach Gary Kubiak said of Osweiler’s debut. “He’s got to feel good about the first step.”
Is this an indication of the end of the Manning Era in Denver and the NFL? It does not look good. Dan Marino was injury riddled in the closing years of his career, as was Joe Namath. For everything Manning has been, he has not had the best of seasons in 2015.
The Broncos are a lock to make the playoffs in the AFC, but they could shut Manning down to rest him for the post season, or they could shut him down completely, based on what happens with his injury. This is just speculation. Kubiak would not comment if the injury was enough to keep Manning off the field for the rest of the year, stating the team is taking things game by game.
You cannot talk about the greatest quarterbacks of this generation and the NFL in general without talking about both Manning and Brady. I have thought for the longest time the two share a distinction of dominance in this league – Manning the best in the regular season and Brady in the post season. Four Super Bowl rings for Brady put him in rarified air and in the discussion for the greatest of all time. Manning has been prolific in statistics and longevity and wins, but has not been as successful in the post-season, having lost twice in the Super Bowl, and only winning once.
Now, all of that talk will have to be tabled for now as it is Osweiler’s time to shine against the only undefeated team in the AFC.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday morning that Manning might not get his job back if Osweiler performs well in what amounts to an in-season audition.
Jeffri Chadiha of NFL.com added he was equally impressed with Osweiler in his first NFL start.
“Osweiler, performed efficiently. Denver basically resembled a far more balanced football team — instead of one learning how to co-exist with a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
“The Broncos would never say this openly, of course. This entire year has revolved around whether they could meld Manning’s love of a wide-open offense with a more conservative attack guided by first-year head coach Gary Kubiak.”
How would the franchise handle sitting Manning the remainder of the season and possibly the playoffs after he was brought to Denver to win a Super Bowl and in the process of him coming from Indianapolis, he ousted the uber-popular Tim Tebow? For now, with an ailing foot the center of attention, the Broncos will concentrate on playing the game against the Patriots and re-evaluate everything else afterward.