In the Spring of 2015, not long after Peyton Manning restructured his contract and OTAs began, Gary Kubiak tried to bring in Tyrod Taylor. At that time, he had Manning, Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian (in a knee brace).
There are varying reasons why he wanted Taylor, but I believe it’s because he didn’t believe in Osweiler and knew Siemian wasn’t an option. To me, that was the beginning of the end of Osweiler staying in Denver. It was a slap in his face and showed the head coach had reservations about him.
What followed also showed Kubiak had worries about Manning’s durability. Against Manning’s wishes, once a week, Kubes had Osweiler take the first string offense during practice. This continued periodically during the regular season. He called it a veteran rest day, but in reality, it was a way to get Brock ready to play.
There is zero doubt those days prepared Osweiler for what ultimately happened: Manning going down. In Brock’s seven starts, only one game did the offense put up more points than what the defense/special teams scored.
If Osweiler had been thrown out there with no reps with the ones, it’s tough to imagine he’d have eked out 4 wins (Manning handed him the 5th win). Even though he’d been on the team for four years, he had limited playing time, and next to none with the first string.
More importantly, those days running the team had him facing the #1 defense, as well as the most ferocious secondary in the NFL of all time. When his number was called up to start, he was as prepared as you can get for a back-up. He had time to build some chemistry with the receivers, time to get a feel of the pace of a defense, and time to practice against the toughest defense he’d see all season.
The last three Super Bowl winning teams ALL had back-up quarterbacks who started.
In fact, all three teams had four games or more with the understudies saving the day. Bill Belichick had time to get his ready. Gary Kubiak did, too. As far as Nick Foles, he was a former starter with the Eagles. Three winners, three teams with back-up quarterbacks who had spent time practicing with and against first strings.
Since Denver is heading into training camp with one QB having only 10 straight starts, another with only one straight start, and a third with zero NFL snaps, Vance Joseph and Bill Musgrave should follow Kubiak’s lead and have Paxton Lynch take the ones, once a week.
The Broncos have no idea how 30 year old Case Keenum can handle 16 games, plus pre-season. That applies to durability as well as play. They certainly don’t know about Lynch, either. What is known is the playbook is considered player friendly and Musgrave has said it fits both quarterbacks, so once a week practice switching one for the other shouldn’t be that difficult.
It would be foolish, when 22 teams last season used back-ups, to not see the writing on the wall and get Lynch some sole time leading the ones. I believe in two years, he’s had nine days of practing with them without sharing. Nine. Not exactly a recipe for success in building timing and chemistry, let alone getting to practice against a stout first string defense. That, more than anything, is most important.
At the very least, have him face the #1 defense, once a week. There’s no downside to this strategic maneuver. In Baltimore, reports are Harbaugh is planning on both quarterbacks playing. While I’m not so sure about using both during a game, Mike McCoy did that with Tim Tebow and that ultimately lead to a play-off win. If Tebow hadn’t had any practice time with the ones, would it had have occurred?
Vance can hope for the best, but should plan for the worst. Be pro-active, and who knows, it could lead to Atlanta.