The competition for the Denver Broncos’ quarterback position in 2014 does not exist. Peyton Manning is the unquestioned starter, while Brock Osweiler is his backup. Zac Dysert and Bryn Renner round out the four-player field. The big question surrounding the quarterbacks is not who will get the playing time, but rather how many of them will make the 53-man roster. Last year, the team kept a total of three. This year, there may only be two.
With roster spots at a premium, the team may choose to keep an extra defensive player. The defense suffered many injuries last year and the shuffling of personnel kept last year’s defense from reaching its full potential. With a record-breaking offense, the defense was rarely under pressure to perform optimally. That changed when the Denver Broncos reached the Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks showed that a superior defense could shut down a record-breaking offense.
Last year, Peyton Manning set an all-time NFL record with 55 touchdowns, leading the offense to 606 points, another NFL record. While such passing efficiency was successful during the regular season, the Seahawks held Denver to only eight points in the biggest game of the year.
In 2014, the Denver Broncos cannot solely rely on their quarterback’s stellar performance. The infusion of a strong running game is necessary if the team is to be competitive in its march towards a championship. While the game has evolved to favor high-efficiency passing, a solid running game and a strong, physical defense is still the blueprint for a championship.
Brock Osweiler is Manning’s heir apparent. This will be his third year as the second string quarterback and he should be ready to take over if Manning ever suffers an injury. Watching how Manning prepares himself for games and how he leads on the field has given Osweiler a chance to develop into a top-flight quarterback. The coaching staff believes Osweiler has a high ceiling and can handle any pressure. During the preseason, Osweiler will get to showcase what he has learned from Manning to this point.
Their performance in the preseason games will determine whether Dysert or Renner will make the cut as the third quarterback. While they may not be placed on the final roster, the practice squad is a more likely landing spot for them. Players on the practice squad, however, can be signed by any of the remaining 31 teams without compensation. Teams generally will not make drafted players available to other teams without first giving them ample opportunity. For Dysert and Renner. it appears that there is only room for one of them.
For the fantasy football fans, there is only one Denver quarterback that is a viable option, and that is Manning. Last season. Manning led all players, not just the quarterbacks, in fantasy scoring. For those that drafted Manning, they were aptly rewarded with an entry into the playoffs. Manning averaged over 30 points during the regular fantasy season. This year, however, should be different. With a greater emphasis expected on the running game, Peyton’s numbers should decrease. He should, nevertheless, still be drafted in either the first or second round in all fantasy leagues.
With NFL training camps now fully open, the Denver Broncos can finally put last season’s Super Bowl behind them and their quarterback can focus on improving Denver’s overall offense. Despite the team’s Super Bowl failure last year, the Broncos are expected to compete for another championship game this season. The success of that journey is fully dependent on how well their quarterback, Peyton Manning, performs.
Commentary by Hans Benes