ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Denver Broncos became the first full team to report for training camp Wednesday, president of football operations/general manager John Elway made it clear that he hopes Joe Flacco can break the team’s disappointing run at quarterback.
The Broncos have used four starting quarterbacks over the past two seasons — Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and Case Keenum — and have finished with back-to-back seasons of double-digit losses for the first time since 1966 and 1967. Not one of those four quarterbacks is on the current roster for the Broncos, who haven’t finished above 19th in passing yardage in any of the past three seasons.
Their last top-10 finish came in 2014, the last season Peyton Manning started more than nine games. He missed seven starts in 2015 with a foot injury; the Broncos were 14th in passing yardage.
Enter Flacco, whom the Broncos acquired from the Baltimore Ravens in a pre-draft trade.
“It’s a hard position to fill,” Elway said Wednesday as Broncos players reported to training camp. “We tried to shake all these trees around here the last four years and the quarterbacks didn’t fall out. So it’s difficult. We’ve taken a lot of shots, we’ve tried a lot of different situations. … Hopefully with Joe we’ve got it solidified with Drew [Lock] working under him.”
Elway and coach Vic Fangio reaffirmed they have no question about the starting quarterback — it’s Flacco, a 34-year-old who has made it clear he believes he has plenty of football left in him. When the Broncos roll into their first on-field practice of camp on Thursday, Flacco will carry the expectation of breaking Denver’s run of tough luck behind center since Manning retired after a Super Bowl victory in 2015.
“It’s been a battle, but this league’s a battle,” Elway said. “It’s been a tough situation, especially at that position. … [But] I’m excited for that position.”
When the Broncos exited their offseason workouts after their June minicamp, Fangio said Lock, a second-round pick in the April draft who officially signed with the team Wednesday, was still competing for the backup job behind Flacco. Kevin Hogan, the Broncos’ backup last season, and Brett Rypien are the other quarterbacks on the roster.
But, in the end, the team’s hopes and expectations at the position reside squarely on Flacco’s shoulders.
“When the football team has confidence with the guy at that position, it makes your football team better,” Elway said. “Joe proved, he showed everybody on our football team he’s that guy. Our team responded to him well. … He’s ready to take that spot over.”