The quarterback carousel has returned to Denver. Then again, did it ever leave?
Following yet another gut-wrenching loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Broncos season went from bad to worse when head coach Vic Fangio announced that quarterback Joe Flacco would be sidelined for the foreseeable future with a neck injury.
The injury is expected to sideline Flacco for 5-6 weeks. During that time, the Broncos will roll with Brandon Allen at the helm, which could spell disaster for Denver.
The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Allen in the sixth round of the 2016 draft. Allen has yet to throw a pass in an NFL regular-season game and hasn’t played in a meaningful contest since his senior season at the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
Fangio recognizes the situation for what it is but is hopeful Allen’s exposure to the offense will carry over to the gridiron for however long he is the Broncos’ starter.
“I think [he is] as comfortable as he can be given the lack of reps in practice,” Fangio said on Monday. “The starter gets the bulk of the reps, and he got here after preseason. There is some carry over to the offense that he came from to here, so that obviously helped.”
While Allen has been the Broncos’ backup quarterback throughout the season, he has not had much exposure with the first team offense. As the Broncos focused on building a connection between Flacco and new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, Allen was learning from afar throughout the early portion of the season.
“He hadn’t gotten a lot. I can’t put a percentage on it, 15 percent, 20 percent of the practice plays, but I do think—I’ve seen him a lot on the scout team and when he’s been in there a little bit on offense,” Fangio said. “I think the guy’s got a little something to him and we’ll devise a plan for him.”
The Broncos are expected to roll with Allen for the foreseeable future with either Drew Lock or Brett Rypien as the backup.
Denver selected Lock with a second-round pick in last year’s draft. Fans have been clamoring for Lock to start given the Broncos record, but the youngster has been sidelined with a finger injury since the start of the season. The Broncos are looking to take things slow with Lock so he might not play this season. If he does play it all, all indications so far are that it will still be a few weeks away.
“We just have to decide too if Drew is ready even before we—because we may not even activate his two-week window—make a decision there because he hasn’t done anything in a huddle or a practice since, what was it, the second or third preseason game that he got hurt?” Fangio said. “That’s a long time ago. We want to make sure he’s ready before we put him out there.”
In July of 2016, Mile High Sports Magazine editor Doug Ottewill and his crew put together an issue dubbed “The QB Game.” The cover came after the retirement of Peyton Manning and featured Manning along with Paxton Lynch, Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian, Colin Kaepernick and Brock Osweiler. All of the quarterbacks are standing on a spinner from a children’s board game with John Elway overlooking them, representing the state of confusion of the quarterback position.
More than three years later, the players on the board may be different but the problem remains the same. Between Flacco, Allen, Rypien and Lock, the Broncos are still riding the carousel in search of a quarterback for the long term. And it’s possible the answer isn’t even on the team yet.