ENGLEWOOD - Maybe, what the Denver Broncos have in Brock Osweiler is the NFL quarterback version of Ed Whitson.
Whitson is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who parlayed a breakout 1984 season for the San Diego Padres into was then a substantial, five-year, $4.4 million contract with the New York Yankees.
Burdened with the pressure of big money and New York City, Whitson started 1-6 and became a frequent target for the Bronx jeer. The abuse got so bad, he eventually resorted to only pitching games on the road.
Scenery matters. It didn’t work out for Osweiler in Houston last year. Maybe, Brock and Denver go together like Whitson and San Diego.
“Being back here today, practicing as a Bronco, being here at Dove Valley, it’s probably a top 5 if not 3 day of my life,’’ Osweiler said Monday following his first practice with the team since Super Bowl 50 week in February, 2016 in Santa Clara, Calif.
Osweiler was general manager John Elway’s second-round draft pick in 2012 who sat 3 ½ seasons behind Peyton Manning before finally getting a chance to play in the second half of his fourth season of 2015. Osweiler parlayed a 5-2 record into an $18 million a year contract with the Houston Texans.
Whether it was the expectations that can burden a hired gun, or difficulty getting on the same page with head coach Bill O’Brien, Osweiler threw 16 interceptions against 15 touchdowns for the Texans last season while finishing 29th among the 30 quarterbacks who qualified for the passing title.
He was then traded after the season to the atrocious Cleveland Browns in exchange for a second-round draft pick. Cleveland only acquired him in hopes of trading him away again. After Osweiler didn’t light it up in two preseason games, the Browns released him.
If Osweiler could go back 18 months and do it over again, would he have accepted the Broncos offer (which was $15.5 million a year) to stay? He said he had no regrets. But he also admitted, in so many words, he got burned by his decision.
“It’s kind of like that old deal when you’re a little kid and your mom, she tells you don’t touch the hot stove, so what do you do as a curious kid?’’ Osweiler said. “You go touch the hot stove. And you learn real quick how nice that stove is when it’s not hot. Needless to say, I’m very thankful to be back here.’’
Osweiler is not only a Bronco again, he has returned to his more familiar role as backup. Only instead of sitting No. 2 to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time in Manning, Osweiler is the understudy to Trevor Siemian, who was a seventh-round rookie backup to Osweiler in the second half of 2015.
“It’s Trevor’s team,’’ Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said Monday. “He feels that way. We feel that way. He’s ready to have a great year for us. It’s his football team.”
Looking back on the Broncos from his Houston perch last year, Osweiler said he was not surprised Siemian emerged as old team’s No. 1 quarterback.
“It goes back to the very first preseason game of 2015 when we played in Seattle,’’ Osweiler said. “Most rookie quarterbacks step into the game their first time, whether it’s the first quarter or the fourth quarter it doesn’t matter, and they have a little bit of jitters and you see a little bit of rookie quarterback play.
“Not in Trevor. Trevor stepped in from Week 1, that first drive that he went out there against the Seahawks and played great. From that time, I knew that he could be special and he’s certainly proving that right now.”
Both nationally and locally, football followers are questioning Elway’s wisdom in bringing back Osweiler. Inside the Broncos’ locker room, though, Osweiler’s return seemed to lift the spirits of those who were part of that Super Bowl 50 team in 2015.
“I’m glad to have him back,’’ said Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders. “We’ve got chemistry (as a quarterback-receiver). Brock gave me the best game of my life versus Pittsburgh (10 catches, 181 yards in a 2015 loss). It’s cool to see him back. His first day out there today, everybody was like, ‘Welcome home.’
“Now we know if our starting quarterback goes down, Brock’s going to come in and do the job. He’s been in this position before. He’s really good at it. The year we won the Super Bowl, he was one of the main reasons why.’’
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