In what may be one of the weirdest games in the history of the Broncos franchise and a matchup that really shouldn’t have been played, the Broncos lose to the Saints 31-3.
On Saturday night, less than 24 hours before the game was to be played, the Denver Broncos were informed that they would have no quarterbacks available for their upcoming game.
On Thursday, the Broncos found that QB Jeff Driskel had tested positive for COVID-19. Due to this, there was an immediate review, as usual, to see if there were any high-risk close contacts to him. After the initial review, the Broncos and HC Vic Fangio announced that it would just be Jeff Driskel heading to the Covid IR/Reserve, meaning all other players were clear.
The next day, on Friday, the Broncos were forced into canceling practice as yet another player tested positive; this time it was KR/PR/WR Diontae Spencer, a pivotal player on the broncos special teams unit. All other players continued to test negative on this day.
On Saturday, the Broncos were finally able to get back to practice, however, they had a curveball thrown their way. Before they were able to get out to the field, the NFL informed the Broncos that all three healthy quarterbacks, Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, and Blake Bortles had to be sent home for precautionary reasons.
At this point in time, the Broncos front office and its coaches still were under the impression that they would have their quarterbacks available vs the Saints. During practice, the Broncos ran plays against the air with their offensive quality control coach, Rob Calabrese, a former QB in college at UCF from not too long ago, standing in as a placeholder QB so the practice could function as best as possible.
Later that day is when the Broncos found out each of the three remaining quarterbacks were ruled out for Sunday’s game as they were deemed high-risk close contacts to Jeff Driskel upon further NFL review.
Due to this turn of events, the Broncos were forced to turn to a practice squad WR and undrafted rookie, Kendall Hinton.
With the Broncos no longer having a single QB left to play, they were forced to find someone who had the most experience, howbeit limited, at the position as possible.
Everyone’s first thought was that the QB would be third-string RB Royce Freeman since he has been listed as the team’s emergency QB for each of the games this season, but the Broncos clearly wanted to find someone who was more experienced running an option offense and was more comfortable running handoffs.
This led them to Kendall Hinton as he was the only player on the team with a significant amount of experience as he played QB for some time while he was playing football at Wake Forest in college. Although his stats and play was never really that good (hence the reason he switched from QB to WR), the Broncos chose him to be their guy due to actually playing the position at a high level of competition relatively recently.
Ultimately, after getting beaten down all game by the Saints stout defense, Hinton finished the game 1/9 passing with 13 yards and 2 interceptions. In addition, he had 2 rushes for 7 yards.
The Broncos fill in emergency QB Kendall Hinton will receive absolutely zero hate, slander, or blame from me. Although his stat sheet wasn’t pretty at the end of the game, what he did was courageous and took a ton of guts. He was put in an impossible situation, with zero preparation and ging up against one of the NFL’s best defenses. Also, there is a reason he transferred to WR; QB was no longer his position of choice nor talent.
No matter what happens with Hinton going forward, he will always have my utmost respect for answering the call to attempt the near-impossible.
As for what happens to him now, I expect him to be placed back onto the practice squad and he will continue as a WR going forward. I hope he gets an opportunity to show what he’s got as a WR at some point.
With all that being said, I believe we can all agree that this game should not have been played. There is an obvious double standard within the NFL when it comes to postponing games due to players testing positive.
For instance, the Broncos did the right thing by containing the spread of the virus within the facility and were punished by having all of their quarterbacks being taken away and no game postponement for very questionable reasons (see the tweet below).
Ultimately they didn't follow rules to the letter. Buck stops with the QBs.
That said reporting that they didn't have masks and were flaunting the rules is not accurate.
They did have them and were largely distant. Slipped up at times. https://t.co/4NSDYunIlI
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) November 30, 2020
Meanwhile, teams like the Ravens, Titans, Patriots, etc. do a terrible job following protocols and are given game postponement because of it, allowing them a greater chance at winning their ensuing games.
Would the NFL have postponed the Broncos game if they actually had one or a few of the players test positive? I honestly do not know.
However, I believe all would agree with the fact that the NFL has done a pretty poor job of handing positive COVID tests this season. It seems like there is no actual set of guidelines in which how the league will react, and different teams and players have obviously been treated differently.
Honestly, the most disgraceful thing may be the fact that the Broncos have no true say in the working of the NFL without a true owner. It was reported that Joe Ellis and John Elway fought hard to get the game postponed a day or two, so the QB’s would be cleared in time for the game, but the NFL refused to grant it to them. I just have a feeling this would not have happened if the great, legendary, and Hall of Famer Pat Bowlen was still around. May God rest his soul.
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