Denver Broncos | News

Mason's Mailbag: Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, Danny Trevathan, and more

*

As always, you can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase, use the submission form or scroll to the bottom of this page.*

Do you think John Elway is hoping Peyton Manning retires before the March money is guaranteed? I know Elway doesn't want to put Manning through a situation like Indianapolis put him in once again. If Manning does retire the Broncos would have a lot more cap space.
-- Mike Mize

Absolutely not, and Elway himself made that clear last month when he said, "The bottom line is we want him back and it's going to come down to what Peyton wants to do."

All sides understand that a decision must happen by March 9, at the latest, and Manning himself indicated last week that he wanted to decide "soon." While the March 9 deadline is crucial because that is when Manning's salary becomes guaranteed for 2015, it would be best for all parties to know for certain within the next 10 days, before the Broncos' contingent of coaches, scouts, executives and other officials heads to the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

The days of the Combine fall within the window in which the Broncos can designate a franchise player, which is also crucial to the team's salary-cap planning. But knowing about Manning's status before the Combine would help in their evaluation of quarterbacks, and whether the team would want to draft a low-round developmental project, or someone in the first two days who could push Brock Osweiler immediately or be a starter of the future in his own right.

Manning was a top-four passer in 2014 behind an offensive line that endured multiple shuffles and with a running game that struggled until November. Age is a factor, but he is a known commodity, and Gary Kubiak's offense could open some new possibilities for him. That factors into why Elway's "bottom line" is clear: he wants Manning back.

He racked up the finest statistical season for any passer in NFL history, has more touchdown passes, passing yardage and completions in a Broncos uniform than anyone but Elway and is the only quarterback to lead the Broncos to three consecutive division titles -- which came after a run of five consecutive non-winning seasons. His performance more than compensates for the brevity of his career as a Bronco.

Frank Tripucka started 39 games at quarterback for the Broncos, and Charley Johnson made 41 starts. Including playoffs, Manning's Broncos tally is 53. So the short-stint argument against Manning holds little weight. And the other quarterback to take the Broncos to exactly one Super Bowl, Craig Morton, is a Ring of Famer despite a relatively brief stint.

Along with Morton, Tripucka and Johnson are Ring of Famers, and deservedly so, for their importance to the franchise -- Tripucka as the first QB, Johnson as the on-field helmsman who steered the Broncos to their first winning seasons. They mattered in Broncos history. So does Manning, no matter what he decides. His mark is indelible. If Manning is eventually in the Ring of Fame, he will be a worthy inductee.

**

If Peyton Manning were to retire, should we direct our attention to drafting a QB in the first round or should we just stick with Osweiler?**
-- Jacob Quaglino

When you're picking 28th in the first round, you don't want to be in a position where you need a specific player or one at a specific position. You want to have multiple possibilities and multiple targets, so you don't have to reach based on need, and possess the flexibility to trade down if a palatable offer arrives.

So if the Broncos faced that scenario, I would expect they'd consider adding a free agent for competition and insurance, but would also give Osweiler every chance to be the No. 1 quarterback. And if they did that, they wouldn't have to reach for a quarterback that they felt would be more appropriate to pick at a later time.

That being said, I advocate 2015 Hall of Famer Ron Wolf's 1990s strategy of adding a young quarterback on a near-annual basis, because if you can develop starting-quality QBs, they become valuable commodities, even if they never play a down for your team.

The Packers became an incubator for developing young passers: Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck and Ty Detmer all led other teams to the playoffs after spending time as Brett Favre's backup. (And in 1994, the Pack had a camp arm who answered to the name "Kurt Warner.")

Brunell, a fifth-round pick in 1993, eventually fetched third- and fifth-round picks in a trade two years later. Hasselbeck, a sixth-rounder, was part of a trade that got the Packers a third-round pick and moved them from No. 17 to 10 in the 2001 draft's third round; if the draft trade value chart is used as a guide, then Hasselbeck alone was worth 580 points -- the value of the first pick of the second round.

Atlanta did the same thing with Matt Schaub in the mid-2000s, turning the third-round pick they invested in him into 1,030 points of draft value -- equivalent to the 16th overall pick -- by sending Schaub to Houston in exchange for two second-round picks and a two-slot swap of 2007 first-rounders.

And competition is healthy. If a young passer who you believe is a "quarterback of the future" wilts under daily practice pressure from a fellow young backup, then he might not be the man for the job. That's why it was a good idea to keep Zac Dysert around the last couple of years; while developing on his own, he can press and push Osweiler. And that's why, no matter what happens with Manning, there would be logical reasons to pick a quarterback in this year's draft if the value is right.

**

Hi. I am fairly new to the NFL fan base. I became infatuated mid 2013 season and by this season's end I was "madly in love" with NFL football. :) Regarding all of the coaching changes, one question I have is this, "Is there such a thing as too many coaches?" I keep hearing new name upon new name and I'm wondering. "Will the left hand even know what the right hand is doing?" I hope that makes sense. Thank you.**
-- Sheleen Meador

First of all, welcome to the sport.

There is such a thing, but the Broncos aren't in jeopardy of reaching that point.

In today's NFL, the staff that Gary Kubiak is cobbling together is of a standard size. For example, teams that run a 3-4 defense -- as the Broncos will -- typically have one coach for outside linebackers and one for inside linebackers, because the job descriptions of the two groups are so different.

In the early 1970s, six-to-eight-man coaching staffs were commonplace. But that was back in the days of 40-man rosters. Now the primary roster includes 53 players, and the practice squad, which has gradually increased (and changed its name from "taxi squad" to "developmental squad" and now the "practice squad" adds 10 more names). More players plus more personnel groupings equals more coaches.

Why wouldn't you go after Adrian Peterson?
-- Bob Willis

First of all, he's still suspended and still a Minnesota Viking, so the question is, at the moment, irrelevant.

If he is available, I wouldn't go after Peterson for two reasons:

  1. Because there are plenty of running backs who can provide optimal performance and don't have a conviction for reckless assault for an incident involving a child.
  1. You have a Pro Bowl starter, two experienced young backups you drafted and a system and coaches who have proven they can develop running backs, so what reason do you have to splurge on a luxury item that carries more baggage than the cargo hold of a 747? And that's to say nothing of the "distraction" angle.

I wouldn't want him on my team -- not now, not ever. But I don't have the keys to an NFL machine, so my opinion is nothing more than just barstool babbling.

**

Danny Trevathan has been a great Bronco. I assume his medical condition is being very carefully evaluated. Three left knee injuries in a short period of time and with comparatively little contact does not bode well. Can he be convinced to retire prior to a crippling injury?**
-- Robert Berman

I think if he wants to try and come back and is cleared medically, he's earned the right. It's premature to suggest that he retire. Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis sustained three knee injuries worse than Trevathan's, and he managed to make it back. While care and due diligence wil be given to Trevthan's future, I think you're jumping the gun a bit.

Nevertheless, if Trevathan is in the 2015 plans, you make sure your depth is strong an insurance policy. Todd Davis showed some promise in three starts last year and did a terrific job absorbing the defense on the fly, so if he can make the transition to 3-4 inside linebacker, the Broncos will have a potential starter in reserve. But if Trevathan clears all medical examinations and the knee is deemed structurally sound, you give him the chance.

The position that the Denver Broncos have ignored is looking at the possibility to replacing the current running backs coach. He hasn't helped may running backs in Denver during his tenure. The one and only was Knowshon Moreno and he accomplished 1,000 plus yards in his fourth year. Although injuries were a factor, other running backs lagged behind. Before, Denver would develop a 1,000-plus back almost every year. What is the possibility that this coach could be replaced?
-- Mike Montalvo

Seriously?

You're obviously not watching the same team and coach as I am.

First of all, your facts are off. Eric Studesville coached two 1,000-yard runners in Denver, not one. Willis McGahee went into four figures in 2011, leading the way for the most productive ground game in the league that year.

Second, you have to consider injuries. McGahee was on an 1,100-yard pace in 2012 before he suffered an MCL injury 10 games into the season. And if C.J. Anderson had made two more starts in 2014, he would have likely eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards last season, since he averaged 96.0 yards per game after becoming the Broncos' primary running back. And back in 2010, the Broncos' injury-riddled corps of running backs never really had a chance behind an offensive line that started two rookies and with a scheme that placed an extreme over-reliance on the pass.

All this comes as the overall number of 1,000-yard rushers has dropped, reflecting the increased focus on the passing game in the sport. From 1995-2006, when the Broncos saw five different running backs crank out 10 separate 1,000-yard seasons, teams had at least one 1,000-yard runner 56.0 percent of the time. In the last eight seasons, that percentage dropped to 47.7. and in the last two seasons, it's plummeted to 40.7 percent, the lowest two-year percentage since 1993-94.

So you can't measure success by 1,000-yard runners anymore. You measure it by maximizing the talent on hand, and Studesville does that as well as any coach I've seen.

The man players often call "Coach E" is admired by them, but also respected. He's tough, but fair. I know he would make an outstanding head coach. The Broncos are fortunate to have him, and the fact that he has now worked under three different head coaches reveals his value -- and his reputation in the league.

The Broncos had Bobby Turner for 15 seasons and Studesville for the last five and counting. The only recent teams with better long-term situations at RBs coach were the Steelers, who had Dick Hoak for 36 seasons, and the Bengals, who employed Jim Anderson for 29 years.

Studesville is an asset. He's one of the best at his craft. Anderson isn't a Pro Bowler without him. And I haven't even gotten into how he brought stability to the organization as interim head coach in 2010 after the chaos of the previous 28 games.

With all respect, sir, your assessment is wrong.


Submit a question for next week's Mailbag!

Related Content

Advertising