Breaking News
More () »

Denver's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Denver, Colorado | 9NEWS.com

Broncos mailbag: How easy will it be to replace Peyton Manning?

Each Tuesday, 9NEWS Denver Broncos Insider Mike Klis will answer your questions.

<p>Quarterback Peyton Manning holds a game ball presented to him by the Denver Broncos (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)</p>

Each Tuesday, 9NEWS Denver Broncos Insider Mike Klis will answer your questions.

How much impact did Peyton Manning have on the playoff run? Stats-wise, the current QBs should have better stats, but they don't have the same mind. - Lance Vialpando

Lance – The storyline the Broncos are Super Bowl champs because of their defense and despite below-average quarterback play has gone a tad over the top.

He’s Peyton Manning! Head coach Gary Kubiak’s decision to bench Brock Osweiler in the final regular-season game and go forward with Manning is the No. 1 reason why the Broncos went on their Super Bowl run.

It cost them Osweiler in the long run. It may cost the Broncos for years to come. But it won them the Super Bowl. Take that swap every time.

I suppose we’ll never really know if the Broncos would have won it all with Osweiler. Maybe. I’m sure he believes so. But I think there was something about how Manning inspired the team.

I don’t think the Broncos don’t get to Super Bowl 50 without him. The Broncos were down 13-12 with 9:52 left in the fourth quarter in their opening playoff game against Pittsburgh when Manning engineered a 65-yard touchdown drive, plus hit Demaryius Thomas for a 2-point conversion.

Granted, that drive was mostly C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman runs, but Manning completed two, huge first-down passes, including a third-and-12 conversion to Bennie Fowler for 31 yards.

Manning probably had the best “game manager” performance of his career in the AFC Championship Game against New England. His two early touchdown passes to Owen Daniels put the Broncos in control the entire game. And how about that 12-yard scramble?

Manning didn’t play all that well in Super Bowl 50 but he did direct field goal drives on the opening possession of each half. The way the game played out, those time-sustaining drives and field goals were significant.

In my opinion, Manning at Super Bowl’s end had no more left to give as an NFL quarterback. He truly left it all on the field. Here’s hoping he keeps that get-up-and-go spirit in the next stage of his life.

I agree that the Broncos could attain 10 wins with Mark Sanchez at QB. But as far as I can tell Sanchez has never been selected to a Pro Bowl. What are some of the reasons that you think that he can put up good enough numbers this year to be in consideration of the top 12 QBs and make the Pro Bowl if the top 6 declined? - Aaron Spritzer

Aaron—In 2005, Tennessee’s Steve McNair had 16 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and an 82.4 passer rating when he was added to Mike Shanahan’s Pro Bowl team as an alternate.

In 2011, Andy Dalton finished as the 20th-ranked passer with an 80.4 rating based off 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions when he was a Pro Bowl alternate.

I’m saying Sanchez is capable of putting up those type of numbers. If he leads the Broncos to a 10-6 record and the top six quarterbacks decline their Pro Bowl invitation, he’s in!

What happened to Knowshon Moreno, was his injury in Miami that serious to where he isn’t getting any interest with other teams? - Bradon Walkenhorst

Bradon—Saw Knowshon at the Broncos’ victory parade. He looked great. Seemed happy.

One of the most unheralded stories from the Broncos’ record-setting offensive season of 2013 was the courageous performance of Moreno. His knees were shot – virtually bone on bone, as I understand it – yet he rushed for 1,038 yards and caught 60 passes for another 548 yards. He scored a combined 13 touchdowns.

That season was otherwise known for 55, 5,477 and 606 – the single-season record-setting touchdown passes, throwing yards and points scored by Manning and the Broncos.

Moreno’s knees were the primary reason why the Broncos let him go to free agency, and why he could only generate a one-year, $3 million contract from the Miami Dolphins.

Moreno had a terrific 2014 opener for the Dolphins, rushing for 134 yards on 24 carries, but he suffered a dislocated elbow early in game 2, came back a month later and suffered a torn ACL in the third quarter of his third game with Miami. Not surprisingly, Moreno didn’t complain about his knee to his trainer’s staff or coaches until the next day.

His knees needed a full year off last year to regenerate. He’ll be 29 in July and he didn’t have good speed to begin with. Mentally, Knowshon is 80 percent done, but he’s staying in great shape just in case.

I've seen plenty on how great and better Oakland’s Khalil Mack is than Von Miller and I'm getting a little annoyed. Mack is great but right now Von is better, yet people continually rate Mack above Von, why so? Is it a West Coast market type deal or are people just trying to look into the future? Thanks and go Broncos! #B-2-B - John Jardine

John – I apologize but I have not read or heard anything stating Mack is better than Miller. Mack did have 15.0 sacks last year to Miller’s 11.0. Mack did have 5.0 sacks against the Broncos in a mid-December game in Denver, with four of those sacks coming against Michael Schofield.

So there’s that.

But Miller’s epic postseason performance has stamped him as the league’s most impactful defensive player. Mack can win games. Miller can win Super Bowls.

Mike I think the decision on the starting QB is all but decided. No ifs, John Elway wants to win and repeat and when you turn on Paxton Lynch's film right away he can make throws Mark Sanchez can't and he is also dual threat in red zone. Has Elway already made his decision with his remarks? - Bob Mares, Boise, Idaho

Bob—When Elway didn’t sign Brian Hoyer ostensibly because he and Kubiak decided they didn’t want the veteran taking reps away from Sanchez or Lynch, two messages were sent.

One, Sanchez will be the opening-day quarterback. And two, Sanchez is the opening-day quarterback unless, Lynch wows them in the preseason.

And the Broncos are giving Lynch a cram course in playing NFL quarterback. For now, Sanchez and Trevor Siemian are taking every snap in Phase II of the offseason. This amounts to the No. 1 offense running plays against no defense.

Lynch observes. But then Lynch and the rookies have their own period where they run through plays.

For now, all that is certain is Sanchez will be the No. 1 quarterback when the Broncos begin their organized team activities (OTAs) on May 23. Sanchez will also be the No. 1 quarterback heading into training camp. Sanchez should also be the starting quarterback when the Broncos play their preseason opener Aug. 11 in Chicago against John Fox’s Bears.

From there it’s about performance. I’m not going to predict the performance of two guys I have yet watch play with the Broncos.

What are the chances the Broncos bring in a few free agents to fill any possible needs left on the roster? A few names come to mind: AJ Hawk, Louis Vasquez, Jahri Evans, Dominique Easley, Curtis Lofton, Antonio Cromartie, and Leon Hall? Do you have any thoughts on these and their chances of winding up in Denver? - Taylor Hair, San Antonio, Texas

Taylor—I wouldn’t think there’s much chance of Vasquez signing here. But I get your point. Last year, the Broncos signed free-agent guard Evan Mathis late in training camp.

In previous years, they’ve added veteran linebackers Paris Lenon and Keith Brooking late.

However, this year -- providing left tackle Russell Okung and right guard Ty Sambrailo recover properly from their shoulder surgeries, and second-round defensive lineman Adam Gotsis returns from his ACL -- the Broncos don’t have any glaring needs.

Easley would make sense if it’s determined Gotsis needs a redshirt year. Otherwise, the Broncos didn’t draft a linebacker because they don’t feel there’s a need. The Broncos like Todd Davis or Corey Nelson replacing Danny Trevathan.

And they’re good at cornerback providing second-year players Lorenzo Doss or Taurean Nixon can become the No. 5 corner behind Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib, Bradley Roby and Kayvon Webster.

There’s certainly a lot of debate about who will start for the Broncos, and competition always pushes players to get better. The last time that the Broncos defended their Super Bowl title (in 1999), they also lost the veteran quarterback (Elway) who had led the team.

That time, Coach Mike Shanahan started the younger quarterback (Brian Griese) for week 1, and the team lost their first four games. Maybe it wasn’t the only cause of that poor season, but don’t you think a veteran quarterback gives the team the best potential for winning, especially with the defense on this current team? If the veteran loses, then change is warranted, but what do you think about starting the season with an experienced hand? - Cam Philpott

Cam—Kubiak was Shanahan’s offensive coordinator that season and I’m sure he’s drawn from that Griese-Bubby Brister experience.

The difference between then and now is Griese had been with the Broncos for a full season before he was given the reigns in 1999. And Lynch is a newbie.

So, yes, Cam, Sanchez makes sense. But the competition has not yet begun. The hope is that the starting quarterback mystery answers itself in August.

Keep wondering about how the new chop block rule will affect the Broncos. I listen to a lot of sports radio and whenever this subject comes up, even the retired NFL players don't agree on the extent it will really impact the zone blocking scheme... the differing opinions I keep hearing are related to the affect it will have for blocks "in the box" versus the "open field.’’ Wondering, will the Broncos now change to more of a power running game, which it appears would also affect the talent they search for on the offensive line? Are we looking at potential big change in the running game mechanics/philosophy? - Dan Seier

Dan—You must be an old coach. Because, um, geez, a question about blocking. Sadly, my life is such that I do have answers, Dan.

The Broncos will stick with the zone-running scheme. They do mix in some power (one on one) blocking plays, but the zone is their thing.

At the NFL owners’ meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., in March, I walked up to a patio table where NFL coaches John Fox, Adam Gase, Bruce Arians and Bill O’Brien were sitting. I asked them about the new, no-cut rule and how it would affect the Broncos.

All said it wouldn’t have much bearing on the Broncos because Kubiak and his staff teach it the correct way. Their guys don’t clip from behind on running plays.

There was some concern expressed from the table about how the new-rule would be officiated, which is why the Broncos were one of four teams who voted against the rule.

Four wasn’t enough to shoot down the rule change.

A previous question got me thinking about Super Bowl winners and appearances. Four teams are tied for most SB appearances with 8 - Denver, New England, Pittsburgh and Dallas. Which of these teams do you think has the best chance to break that tie, and will it be this year? - Frank Lans, Fort Collins

Frank—Good one. I would say the Pittsburgh Steelers have the best chance at becoming the next franchise to play in its ninth Super Bowl. Providing Le’Veon Bell returns healthy, and Big Ben and Antonio Brown stay healthy, the Steelers have a great chance to play in Super Bowl 51.

Then I would give New England the next-best chance. Because, you know, the Patriots are coached by Bill Belichick.

Then it’s the Broncos and then the Dallas Cowboys.

I see the Broncos going 10-6, winning the AFC West and winning a first-round playoff game this year. But because they are in a quarterback transition, I can’t see them getting to the Super Bowl.

And the Cowboys won’t be relevant until Jerry Jones removes himself from football operations.