Broncos' Talib: Trevor Siemian 'better than Brock' Osweiler

DENVER — If Monday served as a one-game referendum on John Elway vs. Brock Osweiler, consider the Denver Broncos and their general manager the big winner.

The Broncos, with their nasty defense and $525,000 quarterback Trevor Siemian, beat the Houston Texans 27-9 on a night in which Osweiler played the villain at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“If you look at it overall, (Elway) saved a bunch of money. And Trev is a great quarterback, man. He's better than Brock in my eyes. So it’s a win-win situation,” Broncos Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib told USA TODAY Sports.

Osweiler was greeted by a cascade of boos from the first moment he took the field for pregame warmups by a fan base still smarting from his decision to spur the Broncos for a bigger contract in Houston in March rather than succeed retired Peyton Manning.

But maybe Denver fans should have been thanking Osweiler instead, because the Broncos hardly looked like it missed him.


Osweiler struggled in his return to Denver, where he spent four years primarily serving as Manning’s backup before going 5-2 in a relief stint last season. He threw for just 131 yards, failed to lead a touchdown drive and, in one of the more bizarre plays of the season, fumbled when the ball inexplicably popped out of his right hand before attempting a pass early in the fourth quarter.

After the game, he admitted relief this week was over after so much attention was focused on his return to Denver.

But now that the hoopla has passed, the focus will be on his struggles. He has yet to consistently connect with No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had five catches for 36 yards on 12 targets Monday, while the Texans have too often settled for field goals.

“It starts with me. I need to play better. I need to find a way to play better,” Osweiler said. “No one is going to look at this game tape harder than myself, so we will find a way to clean this up. But at the end of the day, when you're playing great football team like we played tonight, field goals are only going to keep you in the game for so long.”

Meanwhile, Siemian, Denver's No. 3 quarterback in 2015 behind Manning and Osweiler, is thriving. He threw for only 157 yards but led three touchdown drives Monday, including a scoring pass to Demaryius Thomas, while deftly managing a resurgent running game. C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker combined for 190 rushing yards and scored a touchdown apiece.

Would the Broncos be 5-2 with Osweiler? It is certainly possible given his success in his brief time as their starter last year. But given his struggles through seven weeks in Houston, with a completion percentage south of 60% and only eight touchdowns to go with eight interceptions, it’s also possible that the reigning Super Bowl champions are better off, especially given the price tag Osweiler ultimately commanded.

 

The 2016 Broncos would look markedly different had Osweiler accepted Elway’s offer of about $16 million a year (less than the $18 million average salary he’s making in Houston), or if Elway had decided to engage the Texans in a bidding war.

That six-year, $114.5 million deal the Broncos gave pass rusher Von Miller in July? The four-year, $32 million contract extension for linebacker Brandon Marshall? The three-year, $33 million extension for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders? Anderson's four-year, $18 million offer from the Miami Dolphins that was later matched by Elway? Some or all of those deals might not have gotten done had so much cash been tied up in a quarterback.

“We feel like we kept the guys we needed to keep. It would have been great to keep Brock, would have been great to keep (linebacker) Danny (Trevathan), would have been great to keep (defensive lineman) Malik (Jackson)," Talib said.

"But we feel like, man, the guys we needed to keep, John kept them. And we're going to ride with him. John is one of the best leaders in the league, so whatever he decides, that's what we're going to ride with.”

 


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