Peyton Manning is not a legend in Denver. He is in Tennessee and Indianapolis, but not Denver. He is no John Elway.
So if the Broncos decide that former Sun Devil Brock Osweiler gives them a better chance to win right now, and that is still a big if, then they owe Manning nothing.
Manning was a hired gun when he signed a 5-year $96 million dollar deal in July of 2012 He is not going into the Hall of Fame as a Bronco. He is not having his number retired in Denver. He came to Denver late in his career to help the Broncos win another Super Bowl and although he took them there he has failed to deliver.
Manning put up some impressive numbers his first three years in Denver, throwing for 4,659 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his first season; an NFL record 5,477 yards with an NFL record 55 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his second season when he won his fifth MVP award, and 4,727 yards with 39 touchdowns and 15 picks last year. He led Denver to the Super Bowl two seasons ago where they were humiliated by Seattle, 43-8. Last season the Broncos lost at home in the divisional round to the Colts, 24-13, in a game in which Manning was awful. It was the ninth time in his career he was one and done in the playoffs and pushed his playoff record to 9-11 overall.
There is no denying Manning’s place in history, he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. But anyone who watches football knows the end isn’t near — it’s here. Sure he’s not healthy, but he is also no longer capable of performing at a high level. His 17 interceptions lead the NFL and he’s missed the last two games.
In those two games Osweiler has led the Broncos to impressive wins at Chicago and at home against the previously unbeaten Patriots. Osweiler has been groomed for this and he is having success. He went 20-27 for 250 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers at Soldier Field and Sunday night went 23-42 for 270 yards and a touchdown with an interception vs. New England, including leading the Broncos on a touchdown drive in the final minutes of regulation to temporarily give Denver the lead before the Pats tied the score and forced OT.
Osweiler may or may not be the answer in Denver. Right now he looks good but it’s only two games. If Manning gets healthy maybe they go back to him. But they don’t owe that to him. If they like Osweiler better to run the offense, then stick with him. This isn’t about allowing Manning to choose how and when to go out or whether benching him when he is healthy would embarrass him. This is about who gives Denver the best chance to win now.
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