ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos prepare for life without Joe Flacco for at least this weekend, the two players most impacted by the injury, quarterbacks Brandon Allen and Brett Rypien, are ready to take on the responsibilities that now lay before them.
Allen, who will start in Flacco’s place on Sunday against Cleveland, acknowledged on Tuesday that while this opportunity comes under unfortunate circumstances with Flacco sidelined by a neck injury, he’s nevertheless prepared for it.
“It’s obviously a great opportunity this week,” Allen said. “The approach and preparation really doesn’t change. I think as a backup you prepare the same as a starter does and you’re ready to go in at a moment’s notice.”
As the Broncos’ backup quarterback since Week 1, Allen has received a few snaps in practices each week, he said, but much of his comfort stems from his familiarity with the Broncos’ system through its similarities with Sean McVay’s offense in Los Angeles, Allen’s previous team.
“It’s a very similar offense to the one I came from, so even when I first got here, I was already pretty comfortable,” Allen said. “Then terminology, I’ve learned a lot of that as I’ve been here. I feel very confident with the offense.”
The learning curve he first faced when he joined the Rams in 2016 as a sixth-round pick was steep, Allen admitted, but in the years since, he feels he’s made the strides necessary to succeed when his opportunity arrives.
“I think I’m just smarter all around,” Allen said. “I think my decision-making has gone through the roof since when I first got here [in the NFL]. Everything was fast and everything was moving so quickly. You’re trying to make these quick reads, and I think the game has slowed down for me as these four years have gone by.”
Because of that comfort with the scheme and the play book, Allen said he doesn’t believe the Broncos will have to limit their offense for him.
“No, I think the playbook’s wide open,” Allen said. “Like I said, I’ve come from a very similar offense. The thing I had to learn when I first got here was pretty much just terminology. I knew the routes. I knew the reads and all that.”
Rypien, who could be called up to the active roster from the practice squad to serve as Allen’s backup, also feels prepared for that role. Even though he hasn’t suited up for a game, Rypien has been active in practice this year, serving as the scout team quarterback each week.
“Being able to go out against our defense every day, I think that would get anybody ready,” Rypien said. “We’ve got a lot of good guys over there. It’s been nice to keep kind of acting like I’ve been playing a little bit even though I haven’t been getting game reps. Those reps definitely help for sure.”
And while he hasn’t gotten reps in practice in the Broncos’ offense since training camp, Rypien has used the team’s virtual reality equipment to better understand that perspective.
“With the VR stuff, it’s for the defenses that we’re going to see that week and we’re running our plays,” Rypien said. “Just practicing calling the plays in the huddle and going through the process of what you’re doing pre-snap and then kind of making sure that you’re good on the reads and everything like that.”
Even though Allen and Rypien are prepared for game action in Flacco’s absence, they both said his presence off the field will be vital as they try to fill his shoes.
“Joe’s been great,” Allen said. “He’s been fantastic. He’s obviously helped me a lot since I’ve been here, and I’ve been able to learn a lot from him just in the few short weeks we’ve been together. I think that will continue. I think I’ll keep learning from him. He’s been great in the QB room.”