The Denver Broncos laid the failure in 2017 at the feet of the quarterback.
After watching Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch flounder all season, GM John Elway stated the obvious on Tuesday: Denver’s "No. 1 goal" is to upgrade the QB spot this offseason.
"I think there is no doubt we’ve got to get better at that position," Elway said, via the team’s official website. "For us to have a chance to get better, we’ve got to get better at that position."
2017 SEASON: WILD CARD ROUND
Broncos quarterbacks finished 2017 with a 73.0 passer rating for the season, 31st in the NFL — only the Cleveland Browns signal-callers were worse. Denver’s trio of QBs also ranked 31st in INTs (22), 27th in completion percentage (58.7), 27th in yards per attempt (6.5) and T-25th in passing TDs.
"Obviously, that position didn’t perform as well as we wanted it to. I thought it would perform better than it did," Elway said. "And it’s not just on them; I think there’s a lot of circumstances that went into that, that put them in tough situations. But we didn’t perform as well as we’d like to, so that’s obviously a position that we feel like we have to get better at going into next season."
Behind a porous offensive line, Siemian cratered, tossing a bevy of terrible interceptions before ending the season injured. Osweiler is Osweiler.
One problem for Elway heading into the offseason is the little in-game evaluation the team received on former first-round pick Paxton Lynch. The second-year pro started just two games and was injured in his first start of the season. In the 2017 finale, Lynch led a quick-pass offense and showed that he has the arm to be a starting QB. The raw signal-caller, however, repeatedly threw late, displaying a tendency to be slow reading his progressions.
Elway must decide if Lynch’s struggles are simply part of the process of a growing quarterback with limited snaps or a sign the team needs to move on.
"That falls in the process too and we have to figure out where he is in the process as far as him developing as the quarterback," Elway said. "There’s no question, we have to figure that out, too.
"The hardest thing is that we didn’t get to see him play this year and he didn’t get that experience that we were so hoping to get him — especially when he got hurt in the Raiders game. That’s one that’s going to be high on the topics as far as discussion — where we think he is and if he can be that guy going into the future."
If Elway determines Lynch isn’t the long-term answer, would he pull the trigger on a rookie QB with the No. 5 overall pick in April’s draft? Will the Broncos already have a veteran signal-caller in place by then after chasing one in free agency, like Kirk Cousins?
Could Elway be angling to bring another Manning to Denver?
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Wednesday that Giants offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan will interview for the Broncos’ open QBs coach gig. Eli Manning had two of his best seasons with Sullivan as his quarterback coach (2011, 2015). While there are several layers needed to be peeled back before Eli could be shipped to Denver, perhaps Elway’s ultimate answer to his quarterback quandary is to trust the Manning family to carry the load once again.
Wouldn’t that be a fun springtime story?