SPORTS SQUIB | Broncos on Firm Ground With Lynch and Sanchez

By Gus Jarvis | 4/29/16

First it was Brock Osweiler. Then it was Mark Sanchez. The bearded Ryan Fitzpatrick? How about the expensive Colin Kaepernick or ever-hobbled Sam Bradford? Hell, maybe they should call Tim Tebow out of the SEC media bullpen?

So far it has been a minefield of tough decisions for Broncos GM John Elway and coach Gary Kubiak in finding a way to shore up their team’s quarterbacking future. How can the Denver Broncos defend its Super Bowl title this year when its quarterback future looks so bleak in a league that doesn’t have many good quarterbacking answers to give? Who will they find to be the heir to Peyton Manning’s throne in Denver?

The answer? Let John Elway figure it out.

Following the gracious exit by Peyton Manning, the Super Bowl champions entered Thursday’s start of the 2016 NFL with a lot of options on the table. Would Elway & Co. make a deal for a seasoned quarterback who is, perhaps, not happy with the team they are currently with? Or would he look for a young promising prospect with the team’s first selection in the NFL Draft? For Elway right now, both options are the way to go.

The big NFL Draft news, besides some innocent bong action, was the deal the Broncos made with the Seattle Seahawks to move up the ladder from the No. 31 pick to the No. 26 pick to get ahold of Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. Despite the many options the Broncos had with other veteran quarterbacks in the league, it seemed Elway had his eye on Lynch all along. (According to The Denver Post the Broncos ranked Lynch equal to Cal’s Jared Goff, who was selected first overall to the Los Angeles Rams.)

Lynch is tall and athletic, measuring in at 6-foot-7 and weighing 244 pounds. He’s quick and accurate but, as many pointed out on draft night, while at Memphis he ran the spread offense. He’s never really been under center and has never focused on his footwork and drops. Regardless, his raw talent is what caught the Broncos’ eye.

“He was the one we wanted,” Elway told The Post after the selection.

While the moves on the first round of the draft by the Broncos were deemed remarkable by the world sports media, the real work in securing the Broncos quarterbacking future began the day the Houston Texans offered Osweiler a four-year, $72 million deal.

Elway had to decide if Osweiler, who gallantly started seven games for the Broncos, was truly worth that price tag. As we all know, Elway said “No way,” and sent Osweiler packing to Houston. In the end of that relationship, I say good luck to Osweiler. No hard feelings and I’m glad you are getting paid. But I would agree that the price tag was too steep for a quarterback that has all the mechanics in place but lacks leadership on the field. Osweiler is Kyle Orton, only taller.

With Osweiler out of the picture, the Broncos were able to start scouring the league to see if there were any hopes of picking up other quarterbacks who may be looking for a change of scenery. There was trade talk with the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick. I don’t really believe Elway was interested and I’m not even certain the talks really amounted to much.

Then there was San Francisco and its beleaguered quarterback Colin Kaepernick. It seemed Elway and Kubiak were really interested in his style of play. Unfortunately, his price tag came in too steep for Elway as well, especially for damaged goods.

I wonder how Kaepernick felt during the draft and after the Broncos took Lynch? The selection effectively ended negotiations between the Broncos and Kaepernick and Kaepernick had to realize that no, he isn’t worth as much as he thinks he is and, even worse, he’s going to be stuck with the terrible 49ers instead of playing with the Super Bowl Champion Broncos next year. All he had to do was say “yes” to a pay cut and then play with the best. But business is business, I guess.

Elway also negotiated with the Eagles about getting ahold of Sam Bradford. Once again, the price tag was too high for a quarterback who’s had too many injuries and not enough success on the field.

And then there’s the Mark Sanchez acquisition the Broncos completed on March 11. At the time, it was Elway’s first step in dealing with the team’s quarterback vacancy. While there are many who believe Sanchez will never live up to his early career hype, I’m one who believes that he can be a successful quarterback if his surroundings are right.

Sanchez has a 37-35 record as a starter in the NFL with 84 interceptions. He’s more known for his famous Butt Fumble than anything else. Look at the receiving corps that’s been around him and the blocking in front of him over the course of his lackluster career, and you’ll realize that he hasn’t exactly had the best surrounding him in recent years. A good supporting cast creates great quarterbacks. (See: Super Bowls XXXII, XXXIII, 50.)

Sanchez has already taking a leadership role in the Broncos organization and has already started working with his receivers by inviting them to a camp he holds in southern California every year. But I think what I like most about him is his attitude toward joining the Broncos organization – and what an opportunity it is for him to succeed.

“Coming to the Denver Broncos, this is a gift-wrapped opportunity,” Sanchez told The Post earlier this month. “I believe in fate and destiny. There’s no excuse. I need to take full advantage. There’s nothing more important in my life than this.”

Perhaps one of the most touching moments of the longwinded first round of the draft was listening in to Lynch receive the phone call from Elway. In tears, he told Elway he was excited and ready to go to work for the organization. Lynch, like Sanchez, sees the great opportunity in playing for an organization like the Denver Broncos.

Make no doubt about it, in running the organization John Elway drives a hard bargain and he will not pay for something he doesn’t believe is worth it. (Who else can get Peyton Manning to take a pay cut?) Elway has said it time and time again that he only wants players who want to play for the Denver Broncos. Brock Osweiler, in the end, didn’t want to play for the Denver Broncos. Neither did Kaepernick.

Who will be the next starting quarterback for the Broncos? I’m not sure anyone knows. But I do know Elway has found two candidates, new and old…err…seasoned, that want the job passionately. And in a league where quarterback uncertainty is the norm, I’m feeling pretty comfortable right now.

After all, Denver still has the No. 1 defense in football to hide behind.

 

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About the Author

Gus Jarvis

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Gus Jarvis is a journalist, writer, bloviator at large and co-editor of the San Juan Independent.