ENGLEWOOD -- And then there was nine.
Looking to snap the team's winless streak, Broncos coach Vic Fangio named Brett Rypien as the starter Thursday night against the New York Jets. Rypien represents the team's ninth starting quarterback since Peyton Manning retired in 2016, the most by any NFL during this stretch.
"We're going to start Mark, I mean Brett. I call him Mark sometimes because of his uncle," said Fangio, who coached against Mark, a Pro Bowler. "We believe Brett deserves a chance. Up until his last throw (last Sunday), a bad read, we thought he played pretty good in there. We want to see if that can continue."
Rypien supplants Jeff Driskel, who was benched against Tampa Bay because of his inability to get rid of the ball in the face of a pass rush. Driskel has been sacked 11 times in seven quarters, fourth most in the league.
A former star at Boise State and trusted practice squad member because of his knowledge of the offense, Rypien impressed the coaches in the hurry-up offense. He completed 8-of-9 passes for 53 yards, but the drive was spoiled by an interception in the end zone.
"That's what I will remember," said Rypien, the Broncos' third starter in four games this season.
He believes he's ready, never losing hope or getting discouraged after getting cut multiple times. He loves the position, and has put in the study time, even in high school, learning from his uncle Mark and father.
"It’s always been about getting myself better. I pay attention to people who believe in me. I don't really pay attention to those who don't. I just have to go out there and prove people wrong," said Rypien, who first shared the news Tuesday night with his girlfriend and parents. "I have played this position for a long time. Four years in high school, four years in college. That’s probably my best quality, understanding defenses and getting the ball out."
The Broncos should consider using more uptempo to tire out the defense and slow down the pressure. Even if it is sprinkled into the mix, it could provide help for a porous offensive line.
Driskel remained under consideration because of his experience and strong outing against Pittsburgh. He is only the second quarterback to throw for at least 250 yards and two scores in a relief performance. Ultimately, Driskel's indecisiveness proved his undoing. Signed to a two-year, $5 million contract with $2.5 million guaranteed, Driskel is 1-8 as an NFL starter. He has completed 35 of 64 passes for 432 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
"We might still mix him in," Fangio said. "We will see how the games unfolding. Jeff is a different player than Brett in the movement area."
The Broncos have been scrambling since losing promising second-year pro Drew Lock to a rotator cuff strain in the first quarter of the Pittsburgh loss. He was smashed from behind on a sack, crunching his shoulder. Lock missed two months in his rookie season after spraining his thumb while falling during a scramble attempt.
There is hope that Lock could return next week against the Patriots, though Oct. 18 against Miami appears more realistic for healing time. Nothing is certain until Lock resumes throwing. Major League pitchers typically return after a month with this type of injury, and the Miami game would represent that length of absence.
However, Lock must be able to protect himself as well. The last thing the Broncos need is for Lock to return too quickly and compromise the evaluation of him over the remainder of the season.
Blake Bortles, signed last week, could be an option for the Patriots game depending how Thursday unfolds. Fangio called it unfair to consider Bortles this week because of his limited practice reps.
Our of the nine starters since Peyton Manning’s departure, only two have winning records: Trevor Siemian (13-11) and Drew Lock (4-3).
Demar Dotson will start at right tackle in place of the injured Elijah Wilkinson. Fangio said offensive tackle tackle Jake Rodgers and defensive lineman Deyon Sizer, a former CSU-Pueblo standout, will "probably" be promoted to the active roster following injuries to Wilkinson and Jurrell Casey.
The Broncos are attempting to avoid back-to-back 0-4 starts under Fangio. No Broncos team has started 0-5. Because of the endless string of injuries, the playoff expectations have changed, but it is not a good look for the front office or Fangio to go winless in the first month in consecutive campaigns.
"I think the morale of the guys is good. We understand the situation we are in," Fangio said. "I think our attitude is good."
It’s a season of big sports events airing this fall on Denver7. Check out our upcoming schedule:
- Today: MLB Wild Card Series
- Sept. 30: MLB Wild Card Series
- Sept. 30: NBA Finals Game 1 on Denver7
- Oct. 1: Broncos vs Jets on Denver7
- Oct. 1: MLB Wild Card Series (If needed)
- Oct. 2: NBA Finals Game 2 on Denver7
- Oct. 4: NBA Finals Game 3 on Denver7
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