Fangio addresses the backup QB situation on heels of Broncos' preseason loss to Rams

Chad Jensen

If you were hoping for some fireworks at the quarterback position, Saturday night's preseason bout between the Denver Broncos and L.A. Rams was probably the wrong game to turn on. 

But it's preseason. We know that. 

The Broncos made the decision last week to sit starter Joe Flacco for the duration of the preseason and the only electric QB on the roster — Drew Lock — has been sidelined with a severely sprained thumb on his throwing hand. 

However, the Broncos have a decision to make still at the QB position. Who will back up Flacco for the first quarter of the season while Lock — the team's rookie second-round pick — heals up? 

Alas, coming out of the Broncos' 10-6 preseason loss to the Rams, it feels as if the team is no closer to a clear answer. 

Kevin Hogan started on Saturday night. He went 8-of-12 for 69 yards. Put three points on the board. After the game, Fangio weighed in on Hogan's performance. 

“You know, kind of like it’s been all preseason," Fangio said from the podium. "Saw some good stuff, some that wasn’t as good. I thought our protection, for the most part, was pretty good. It gave our quarterbacks a chance to operate. We just got to be more consistent. Obviously, six points isn’t enough.”

No, six points doesn't cut the mustard. One of my observations when watching Hogan is that he seems loath pushing the ball down the field. 

For a player entering his fourth year in the league, he misses way too many open receivers in his reads, which tells me he's not seeing the field. Hogan also seems a little hesitant to uncork the ball, holding onto it too long and taking pressures he shouldn't. And as Fangio alluded, the protection early on was better than it has been. 

If Hogan ends up being the Broncos' short-term choice to back up Flacco while Lock heals, so be it. The team could do worse, but it could also do a heck of a lot better. 

Meanwhile, undrafted rookie Brett Rypien factors into this conversation as well. He entered Saturday night's contest just in time to run a two-minute offense to close out the second quarter. 

Rypien started hot, completing his first five passes, before sailing a pass to a wide-open Juwann Winfree in the end zone. Rypien's second half was the epitome of inconsistent, which is what you would expect to see from a rookie who's received only cleanup reps as the No. 4 QB all summer. 

One big difference between Hogan and Rypien was the latter's willingness to push the ball. He had two opportunities to connect on big plays, but he missed the aforementioned endzone shot to Winfree and fired long on a deep shot to a wide-open Fred Brown in the third quarter. 

Accuracy was an issue but I liked seeing Rypien being fearless in challenging the defense. More reps can only help him dial in that accuracy. He finished the night 14-of-23 for 80 yards, with an interception and zero touchdowns. 

Fangio and company are still searching for the right decision. As of Saturday night, there was no clear epiphany. However, the Broncos will get one more game's worth of film to make their decision.

One thing's for sure, though. Brett Rypien will get another big seat at the table this coming week from a reps standpoint.  

“We’ll see more," Fangio said with regard to Rypien. "We’ll play Brett more this week. Give him an opportunity and play them both and make our decisions.”

Not exactly glowing praise for either young signal-caller. Frankly, I'm not sure what the right decision is for Denver on the QB front. 

On one hand, Hogan probably is a more secure fail-safe that the coaches could trust a little bit more not to give a game away if pressed into action. On the other, Rypien appears to have more upside and received a $146,000 guarantee to sign as a college free agent this past spring. 

If this were a question for the starting job, it'd be agonizing. Thank the Football Gods that it is not. Two weeks from now, when the Broncos square off against the Oakland Raiders in the regular-season opener, no one will be talking about Hogan or Rypien. 

It'll be the Joe Flacco show. Unless he gets hurt. If that happens, the Broncos will be in a world of hurt if Drew Lock is still unable to go. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen. 

Comments (2)
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Drew Ellis
Drew Ellis

Last line needs a small edit. Drew Luck played for the Colts and is rumored to be retiring. Drew Lock is the Broncos injured rookie QB.

Rypien needs some seasoning and to learn how to play in the big boy stage. He's got potential, but he needs time to learn the system and gain some experience. His footwork is decent but he gets excited, resulting in some accuracy issues. Hogan would be an okay pick if Fangio plans to lean heavily on the running backs and tight ends this year. Short passes are what Hogan knows, but his decision making and release times are questionable. If he gets the nod, I would probably expect to see him on the turf more often than completing passes, even with the promising offensive line the Broncs are developing this year.


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