DENVER — It remains too easy to track why the Broncos have missed the playoffs in three straight seasons. There was The Decision. Then the Solution. Now the Unknown,
This represents the Cliff's Notes version of Denver's quarterback position since Peyton Manning retired. Trevor Siemian showed promise, then fizzled because of injuries and ineffectiveness. First-round draft pick Paxton Lynch demonstrated a lack of toughness and work ethic to even keep a roster spot. Brock Osweiler proved he's a backup, nothing more. And Case Keenum, fresh off a breathtaking season in Minnesota, returned to Earth with a thud in his first season in Denver.
There are reasons, of course. New offense. Pressure of being the man for the first time. An ill-fitted scheme. But Keenum's performance —18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions — so chillingly resembled his career numbers that it's much easier to connect the dots that he is a one-year wonder rather than the next Jeff Garcia or Rich Gannon.
Keenum knows his seat in the cockpit is no longer secure, though he's excited to work with new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. General manager John Elway called Keenum a "short-term fix" a few weeks ago, so no reason for posturing. What does Keenum think about his situation and the new coaching staff? He fielded several questions last week, talking for the first time since Vic Fangio replaced Vance Joseph.
"I try not to read what's out there. It's hard not to. It's why I don't follow you on Twitter," Keenum said to local reporters from Denver7, The Athletic and The Denver Post. "I take it for what it's worth. It's not something affecting me, my preparation and my job. I take what the coaches say. I had a great meeting with John at the end of the year. We all have to do better. Hands down that's what it comes down to. I was mad just like all the Broncos fans watching the playoff games and sitting at home."
The Broncos continue to keep all options open as they look for certainty at the league's most important position. I was asked on my Monday appearance on 104.3 The Fan which quarterback makes sense among Nick Foles, Joe Flacco and Jacoby Brissett. I reasoned Brissett since I have never seen Foles succeed outside of the Andy Reid/Doug Pederson system, and Flacco has long been trending the wrong way. Brissett provides upside, though it would require a trade. But why mess with an acquisition price if you can draft a guy? That is the growing question and it became more interesting Monday when Oklahoma Heisman trophy winner Kyler Murray announced he was leaving baseball for a football career.
Would Denver take him? I don't know if he is a fit. He might, and he has plenty of time to convince league executives over the next few months. I do know Murray likely goes before Denver's 10th pick, and it could push an intriguing name like Missouri's Drew Lock to that spot. Which brings me back to Keenum. Has he heard the draft speculation?
"When is the draft? I am sorry, I haven’t looked at any draft boards yet. I know how much that changes and how that goes," Keenum said. "My focus is to get healthy (he dealt with a knee injury from the second game of the season but offered no excuses for his play) and get ready to go this year. I am going to pay attention to that right now."
For Keenum, his first season in Denver was eye-opening. Broncos fans lack patience given the success of the franchise. Being the Broncos' quarterback is the most high-profile position in the state, if not the region. I asked him if the job, not that it was too big for him, but if it was bigger than he thought.
"I don't know that I even thought about that type of question. I take my job seriously. I love what I do, and I care deeply about this game," Keenum said. "And I care deeply about representing myself, my family and the name on the front of the jersey. I know the long tradition here. I am not going to say it was easy. There were certain situations that came up, and there was probably more press conference that I didn't want to go to than ones I did. It's the nature of the business, and why I do what I do. I know I am going to battle my tail off."