Cleat Geeks

An Open Letter to Elway and Kubiak

Dear John Elway and Coach Gary Kubiak –

Elway&KubiacFirst I want to thank you for finally doing what I had expected since Kubes was announced as the new head coach back last January. John when you made the decision to fire John Fox after another flameout loss in the divisional round of the playoffs I thought for sure you would completely blow it up.

I know the National Football League is a win at all cost business, but like Major League Baseball sometimes you have to look at the future and ask yourself – do we sacrifice this season to build for a more promising future?

After the loss at New England, last season something changed with everyone’s beloved Peyton Manning. The next week against the St. Louis Rams something didn’t seem quite right. The play calling was different than it had been in the previous games. It seemed like everyone fought the entire game to get on the same page. It continued on for the rest of the season. The Broncos limped into the playoffs and even with a week off to mend or get things back together the team failed miserably losing to the Colts.

Of course as a lifelong Broncos fan and living in Indianapolis, last season’s playoff loss was more catastrophic than either the Super Blowout to the Seahawks or to the Ravens. It was also worse than the playoff loss Elway suffered as a player to Jacksonville in 1996.

Thus when Kubiak was named the new head coach and knowing his style of play the first thought that came to me was regardless of how Manning’s physical went Elway would have that much-needed heart-to-heart. That Elway would tell No. 18 they had three solid shots at bringing Lombardi No. 3 to Denver, but it was time for a change in philosophy. If Manning wanted to break Brett Favre’s records of most yards passing and wins by a quarterback he would have to do it somewhere else.

After the loss to the Colts to me it was time for the “Brock-N-Roll” Era to begin in MileHigh. Even with orange-and-blue glasses on I could sacrifice this season if it meant giving Brock Osweiler experience to be the future. Osweiler had spent the last three seasons being mentored by one of the best who will ever play the game of football. It was time to see if Osweiler could put into reality what he had learned from being the ultimate understudy.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Arizona StateI will fully admit I know didily squat about evaluating football talent. What I can tell you though is while watching Osweiler as the signal caller at Arizona State there was something about him which made me a huge fan. When he was selected in the second round by the Broncos in the 2012 NFL Draft I told everyone Osweiler was a steal. If something was to happen to Manning I was at ease in having Osweiler as the back-up quarterback.

During the pre season, Osweiler took the majority of the snaps. He looked comfortable in the offense Kubiak wanted to run. I didn’t see that from Manning. He looked awkward trying to run the plays. For the first time in 20 years of watching him play, Manning looked unsure of himself.

It continued through the first eight-and-half games of this season. Finally in the game against Kansas City Kubiak did what some thought would only happen in a football nightmare – he benched Peyton “Freaking” Manning.

brock&Peyton2By the time Osweiler entered the game, it was already out of reach that Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field at MileHigh. This was a matter of getting experience for the rest of the season. This was Osweiler doing his best at damage control and not making the game get any uglier than what Manning had left it.

Last week’s game against the Chicago Bears was another chance to get comfortable. It was a chance for Osweiler to show he could lead us to victory. It was a chance to build his confidence. What better way to do that than against his former head coach in Fox and offensive coordinator in Adam Gase.

Osweiler played about as well as he could for his first start. Unlike Manning during the first seven games of this season, the three-year mentee did not throw an interception. He looked like he had been the quarterback the entire season. He was 20-for-27 for 250 yards and two touchdown passes including a strike to Cody Latimer, who again I felt was a steal as a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, for the game winner against the Bears.

Leading up to this week’s showdown with Brady and the Brain I wasn’t as confident for Osweiler. My main thoughts were playing well, don’t get hurt and if the Broncos lose at worst they are in the AFC playoff picture as the No. 3 seed.

bradyhelmThe game started out that way as the Patriots jumped out to a 14-0 lead and Osweiler had thrown his first interception and still looked like he was star struck at the situation he was in for the game. Then toward the end of the first half Osweiler led the Broncos down the field. From the Patriots 19-yard line, Osweiler gave the ball to Ronnie Hillman, who then ran the ball to the house to cut the deficit to 14-7 prior to halftime.

Like the surgeon of quarterbacks that he is, Brady cut into the hearts of the Broncos faithful with a 63-yard touchdown to Brandon Bolden. The Patriots looked like they were in the proverbial driver’s seat to join the Carolina Panthers and be 11-0.

Except when you got a defense like the Broncos and now a quarterback like Cool-hand Brock, it’s not completely over.

Osweiler did his best combination of an Elway-Manning-late-fourth-quarter-MighHigh-Magic comeback.

The former high school basketball player took a page out of a basketball shooter’s notebook on the first play from scrimmage at his own 17-yard line. Despite being targeted 10 times, DeMaryius Thomas hadn’t caught a pass all night. Just as a basketball shooter does try to shoot himself out of a slump, Osweiler shot the ball again to Thomas who made a leaping catch at the Patriots 47.

We all know what happened a couple of plays later – thanks to a defensive holding penalty – Osweiler calmly lofted a ball into the corner of the end zone for Andre Caldwell.

cj-anderson-4rbThen of course came the winning drive in overtime when Osweiler checked out of the original call – something he was taught by Peyton Manning – and returned to the sweep play which allowed Anderson to score the game-winning touchdown.

For the most part Sunday night, Osweiler matched Brady – 23-for-42 for 270 yards and one touchdown. For a second start overall and first against Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia that’s pretty impressive.

Look, John and Kubes, I get that Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning. Bob Griese was Bob Griese for the famed 1972 Miami Dolphins and they still went with back-up quarterback Earl Morrall after Griese broke his leg. Morrall won 11 games that season and then was replaced by Griese after a poor performance in the AFC Championship game.

My point is this – even if Manning comes back 100 percent in the next few weeks, you have to go with your hot hand. Right now that hot hand is Brock Osweiler and he should be your quarterback until he does like Earl Morrall and proves otherwise.

Hope you hear me.

United In Orange,

Rob.

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