Despite working hundreds of miles apart from each other, John Elway and Brock Osweiler found a way to communicate without actually seeing each other. Thanks to local reporters in Denver and Houston, the Broncos general manager and the Texans' new quarterback traded mild barbs this week.
John Elway started it by telling The Denver Post he was "a little surprised" by Osweiler getting "a little bent out of shape" after being benched for Peyton Manning ahead of the Broncos' Super Bowl run. Osweiler then watched Manning lead (in a figurative sense) the Broncos to a championship before spurning them in free agency.
Osweiler ended up responding to Elway on Monday.
"The only thing I would say is what kind of competitor wouldn't want to play in that situation?" Osweiler said, per The Houston Chronicle."Outside of that, I think I've answered all of those questions. We're now in August, we just had a great training camp practice and I'm excited to play the 49ers coming up."
Osweiler is right, of course. Keep in mind, he got benched for a quarterback who nearly led the league in picks (17), despite playing in just 10 regular-season games. Osweiler didn't exactly thrive under center, but he at least limited his turnovers (six interceptions in eight games) for a team that relied entirely on its defense to win games. There's no doubt the Broncos were just as capable of winning the Super Bowl with Osweiler as the starter.
And thus, we've arrived at the main issue here -- at least how I perceive it. The issue isn't that Osweiler was benched, it's that he was benched on the eve of a Super Bowl run. This even though he probably deserved the chance to lead the team to the Super Bowl because he was actually the better quarterback last year, statistically speaking. The competitor in Osweiler, I'm guessing, looked at Manning and his noodle arm and knew that he was better at that point in time.
If Osweiler had won the Super Bowl for the Broncos, the questions that followed him to Houston this offseason wouldn't exist, at least not in the same magnitude. Talking heads wouldn't be talking about his inexperience, they'd be citing his Super Bowl run. Winning a ring in the NFL as a quarterback might be the only way to gain immunity from criticism.
Furthermore, if Osweiler had played and won the Super Bowl, he'd probably still be in Denver. When Osweiler departed, a report emerged that said he wasn't interested in playing in Manning's shadow. That wouldn't have concerned Osweiler had he led the Broncos to a title with Manning sitting on the bench.
Obviously, Elway has no reason to regret the Broncos decision to play Manning. It didn't cost them a ring and it provided Manning with the perfect sendoff. But it's a little surprising to hear Elway say he was surprised by Osweiler's reaction, which is why Osweiler's response seemed to be also steeped in surprise.