ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos aren’t ready to name Brock Osweiler their starter for the remainder of the season just yet.
"No decision has been made on our QB situation beyond this week, contrary to speculation," the team tweeted Wednesday following a report based on anonymous sources that Manning wouldn’t return to the starting lineup even when healthy.
Manning remains in a walking cast and faces more rehab on his left foot. He has a partially torn plantar fascia that led to the switch to Osweiler three weeks ago.
Article continues below ...
The Broncos (9-2) have beaten Chicago and New England in Osweiler’s two starts.
The athletic quarterback’s ability to run bootlegs and play action has opened up Gary Kubiak’s zone-based offense, which had been modified for Manning.
Although Osweiler’s passes are more precise, it’s the ground game where the difference is so stark.
With Manning in the shotgun or pistol, the Broncos found it difficult to run the ball, averaging 86 yards in his eight starts, including these totals: 69, 61, 41, 43 and 69.
They’ve rediscovered their ground game with Osweiler under center, averaging 175 yards in his two starts.
When Osweiler took over, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison bristled when asked about finally having the full playbook at his disposal.
"It’s the same football playbook," he said. "It’s football. We’ve been under center, we’ve been in the pistol and we’ve been in gun. We can expect all three could happen on Sunday."
Sure enough, all three did.
Osweiler was under center for 51 snaps, in the shotgun 15 and in the pistol once, and the Broncos rolled up a season-best 170 yards in the cold at Chicago.
They topped that number in their overtime win against New England, rushing for 179 yards and three touchdowns on a snow Sunday night despite falling behind the previously unbeaten Patriots by two touchdowns.
C.J. Anderson had his best game of the season, rushing 15 times for 113 yards and two TDs, including a 48-yarder in overtime.
Anderson once again looked like the running back who went to the Pro Bowl last season, finding another gear on his two TD runs, especially the game winner, when Osweiler changed the call at the line. He pitched to Anderson, who bounced it outside and followed big blocks from Vernon Davis and Ryan Harris.
"No one thought on the line that C.J. would take it 48 yards, but that’s how powerful and explosive C.J. is," said Harris. ". . . Looking up on the ground and seeing him raise his hand, that was quite a feeling."
Anderson, who also had four catches for 40 yards, said he was inspired by the big hits teammate Ronnie Hillman kept taking early in the game.
"They were just teeing off on my teammate and I don’t like that, that bothers me," Anderson said. "So, when I got the chance to go in there and set the boom, I told Ronnie, `I’ll soften them up for you.’ . . . But just running with that nastiness and that strength and just trying to be powerful every time I run the ball, that’s what I’m talking about doing."