Most players going into their fourth season are typically well into their careers, or already in their prime. This is not the case for Brock Osweiler, who is only 24-year-old and has all of 30 pass attempts under his belt as a pro. But change is on the horizon, and the future is fast approaching for the young signal caller.
Endorsements for the quarterback have been coming from all over the place, but the loudest of them all seems to be the one that nobody mentions. Osweiler was the handpicked future of the franchise by "the Duke" of Denver John Elway. Just three short years ago, Elway drafted Osweiler with the expectation that he would sit and learn from one of the greatest passers in league history for up to five seasons and going into the fourth year of this ride, the plan hasn't wavered.
While Elway has contract extensions on the horizon for All-Pros Demaryius Thomas and Von Miller, an extension for Osweiler is reportedly high on Elway's to-do list. While the contract situation for Thomas is slowly moving and there has been little talk of a Miller extension, the team has made it known that they would like to get a extension done for their quarterback of the future.
For the first three years of his career, Brock has played in a system ill-suited for him. Realistically, Peyton Manning's system can only be run by a handful of quarterbacks and while Osweiler could have adapted to the system, it was never going to bring out the best in him. Enter head coach Gary Kubiak, who John Elway managed to pry from the Baltimore Ravens, even after he declared that he would not leave his post as offensive coordinator.
Osweiler is as perfect of a fit as there could be for Kubiak's offense. Osweiler’s closest quarterback comparison, Joe Flacco, also just finished up a season where he flourished under Kubiak in Baltimore. While Osweiler showed progress working in Manning's offense, he will excel in Kubiak's.
Former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer recently had much praise for the former Sun Devil, as well.
"He's in a tough spot, really, because you're behind a Hall of Famer, one of the greatest to ever play the game, ever to play that position in Peyton Manning," Plummer said. "Yet, you know you have the abilities and the talent to probably start for 20 teams in the NFL. With Osweiler's arm and his mental ability, he would definitely be able to start for that many teams. And how he treats his teammates and his leadership. And that's just from knowing him a little bit.”
But Plummer said he believes Osweiler will be rewarded for being patient. "It’s tough though, very tough; I know he wants to play," he said.
"He is competing for the starting job. That sounds ludicrous to say that with Peyton Manning, but he has, in my mind, the arm that this offense almost requires," Plummer said. “He's got a big, big league arm, so he's got to just be patient. He's learning so much behind Peyton, but he needs reps."
Plummer said Osweiler needs to get some action to make some mistakes and throw some interceptions. "Make a bad read so he knows not to do it again. He'll get there, he'll have his chance, hopefully," he said.
New head coach Gary Kubiak has also had plenty of praise for his young signal caller saying, "His work is tremendous. You know if you go back years ago that's the way quarterbacks were raised. Maybe this is going to be a blessing in disguise for him that he's getting an opportunity to learn from Peyton, to work through the process before something gets turned over to him."
This season is set to be different. Kubiak will look to spell Peyton whenever the opportunity presents itself, in a similar way to 1998, when the team rested John Elway and Terrell Davis in blowout wins. This all starts with the offense, as veterans, including Manning, have been given scheduled days off from organized team activities. The beneficiaries of these veterans sitting were the Broncos younger players—namely Osweiler.
"First of all, I absolutely love it,” Osweiler said Monday. “I'm getting more reps than I've ever gotten as a Bronco. I'm getting twice what I usually get. It's very valuable to a new player, and especially in a new offense. You can only study so much in the classroom. You need to get out to the grass and you need to go out there and run those plays. The more reps you can get, the better you're going to be."
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"Like I said, I love the extra reps,” he continued. “I'll take as many as they want to give me. In fact, sometimes I try to sneak in a couple extra. Zac, if I see him not running in there, I try to act like they're my reps and then I get ripped out (laughing). It's huge. I think it's huge for development in a new offense. I'll take as many as I can get."
Osweiler is progressing right before his new coach's eyes, and his work ethic is drawing a ton of praise.
"I'm asking him to read some things differently. I teach guys to read with their feet and how they hitch and how they do things without me going inside," Kubiak explained. "He's responding. The thing I like about him is when he does make a mistake and you correct something, the next day he fixes it. He works hard at his craft and this is really a good time for him to get reps."
Cecil Lammey of Bleacher Report also had some keen observations on the other quarterbacks below Manning on the depth chart.
"Zac Dysert looks like the same player he was two years ago. His arm is incredibly strong, but his accuracy and consistency leave a lot to be desired. Trevor Siemian lacks the accuracy and decision-making skills of a backup quarterback—let alone a starting quarterback. It's clear the only backup quarterback with starter’s ability and upside is Osweiler."
Osweiler has impressed the media, which is clear, but his praise from teammates is what has the team excited about his future.
"He has a lot more command," said running back C.J. Anderson. "He wants to go out there and play. He's been confident and comfortable, and he knows what he can do. He trusts his ability."
"I've always been impressed with Brock and his composure and how he commands the huddle," said tight end Virgil Green (who caught Osweiler's first career touchdown pass). "The more and more you play in the league, the more confident you get and the more composure you have out there. He's in the huddle commanding things, telling us if we're not playing so well, calming down guys, relaxing and then (moving) to the next play. He's learned a lot from Peyton (Manning), and it shows in the huddle."
Broncos fans will see a lot more of Osweiler this year. With high expectations to show some real progress, the hope is that Osweiler can show that he will one day be the face of the franchise. Until then, he'll take extra practice reps and an offense that suits him.