Big news came down Monday in a city where professional football is king. Peyton Manning, arguably the best quarterback to play the game, will sit out the Denver Broncos game against the Chicago Bears while Brock Osweiler gets his first regular-season start.

The news obviously has some people in a panic, but in the grand scheme of things and for the preservation of the ultimate goal of this year, a Super Bowl championship, this move will benefit all parties involved. Manning looked like a shell of himself Sunday and needs rest in order to help the team when it matters most – in January. On the other hand, with the AFC West pretty much sewn up, Brock Osweiler needs real game-time experience to see if he can lead this team if or when Manning gets injured later in the year and also to see if he is worthy of starting quarterback money next season.

Manning is a gamer. There is no doubt about that, and he prepares each week for games with repetitions and study like few have ever done. Last year’s quadricep strain showed at what lengths he would go to play. He hid his injury for nearly the entire second half of the season. The results on the field, after learning in the offseason the extent of the injury, make a whole lot of sense.

In the team’s first nine games of 2014 he threw 29 touchdowns to seven interceptions. The remaining eight games, from the St. Louis Rams game on, he threw 11 touchdowns to eight interceptions and had his five lowest quarterback ratings of the season. And when it mattered most, against the Indianapolis Colts in January, he couldn’t perform well enough to win.

He simply cannot play “banged up” at 39 years old and that was beyond evident Sunday versus the Kansas City Chiefs. He completed only five of 20 throws, was intercepted four times and his already slow moving attempts resembled punts more than passes. After the game, it was revealed that not only is he suffering from shoulder and rib injuries but he also has a partial tear of his plantar fascia in his left foot.

Head coach Gary Kubiak spoke with Manning and made the correct decision to sit the 19-year veteran until he is healthy. Manning has lead his teams to a record 14 postseasons and still gives the team the best chance to win when healthy. Kubiak said as much after the loss to the Chiefs Sunday. “Peyton is our quarterback. If he’s healthy and ready to go, Peyton’s our quarterback.”

The problem is, it seems Manning is several weeks from being healthy. Thankfully, Osweiler looked good in relief on Sunday and needs to show fans and the franchise that he can start in the National Football League.

Since his arrival to the Broncos via the 57th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Osweiler has sat behind Manning and played very sparingly, appearing in only 14 regular season games and attempting only 54 throws.

Two things are evident that make this week’s move important for the near and distant future of the Broncos:

One, Manning cannot play at a high level currently and the Broncos sit at 7-2 with a three game cushion to get Osweiler comfortable and perhaps win a few games before Manning returns later this season. Two, Osweiler is currently the heir apparent to lead this team into the future, but he must be tested now.

With little on tape to evaluate Osweiler, outside of some recently impressive preseason games, he must show he has matured and learned behind No. 18. Osweiler will enter the offseason as an unrestricted free agent when his rookie contract of roughly $3.5 million expires. In order for the Broncos to give him a legitimate offer that both parties can agree upon, he must play in regular season games and play well.

The positive for the timing of Manning’s injury is that the Broncos have a stranglehold on the division in spite of their two consecutive losses. Still, Osweiler will undoubtably have a tough task. He will travel to Chicago for his first career start and then host the New England Patriots before two AFC West opponents with losing records will line up against him.

The good news is he has a tremendously talented defense he can rely on and has built chemistry with his teammates through increased reps since training camp. Plus, he has practiced with the starters on nearly every Wednesday since the season started. Kubiak acknowledged that the increased reps has helped a great deal, but he also knows what it is like to be a backup and then suddenly a starter.

“[Osweiler’s] basically had the football team on Wednesdays. Throughout the course of the offseason, he’s had the football team one out of every three days, so he’s grown from that. He went in there and played with a lot of confidence the other night. This is different. It’s all yours starting today, so it’s not like you all of a sudden got put in the game on Sunday. It’s preparation. It’s everything,” Kubiak said Monday.

The Broncos started preparations for both the near and distant future with the move to start Osweiler. Manning’s 2015 and 2014 seasons with the Broncos have shown he can’t be relied on for a full season. He can, however, play at an elite level when healthy. Right now, he is far from that and the decision to sit him is an intelligent one. It also gives Osweiler, in his fourth season, his fair chance to earn his next contract and the faith of the team that drafted him. If the Broncos can stay afloat for a few weeks and Manning returns healthy it will be a win-win-win for Manning, Osweiler and the Broncos.

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