Last week, Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak named Peyton Manning the starting quarterback in Sunday's AFC Divisional Round against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It will be his first start since Week 10 -- a week in which he threw four picks and was benched for Brock Osweiler.
The Broncos finished the regular season on a 5-2 run with Osweiler as their starter. Osweiler, who has a passer rating of 86.4 in his eight games (seven starts), was benched in the third quarter against the Chargers in Week 17. Manning, despite his lowly 67.9 passer rating on the season, led Denver to a victory, which solidified the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
When Osweiler led the Broncos over New England, he made four throws that Manning isn't capable of making right now. Manning's mind can still beat anybody, but he can't physically make the big plays. Osweiler isn't a tenth of the quarterback Manning's been over his career, but right now, Osweiler has arm strength and the ability to make plays inside Kubiak's offense that Manning can't.
I would live with the mistakes of Osweiler, knowing that I could stretch the field and run wider stretch-zone run plays because he can be under center and get out faster. I'd take the chance of riding with my defense if Osweiler were to make young-quarterback plays.
There's a reason the Broncos went to Osweiler outside of Manning being hurt, and the offense began to progress with the youngster under center. Now that everyone knows Peyton is the quarterback again, teams will do the same thing they did earlier in the season to stop him.
Osweiler and Kubiak will be in Denver together for a long time. But the Broncos asked Manning to come back this season, and I think they owe him the opportunity to win it all, whether it plays well or poorly.
When coming off the bench in Week 17, I think Manning was able to realize he can't throw the ball 30-35 times and expect to win. He's not what he used to be, and he recognizes he needs to lean on the run to win.