‘He’s kind of the piece we needed’

Eleven quarterbacks have started games for the Denver Broncos since the franchise won the Super Bowl 50 with Peyton Manning at the helm.

None of them has been able to lead the club back to the postseason.

It’s a dubious number that Broncos president of football operations John Elway no doubt knows well and is hoping will stop with No. 12. The 12th starting quarterback since Manning is poised to be Russell Wilson, who Denver acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Seahawks.

Along with a resume that includes a Super Bowl win and nine Pro Bowl appearances, Wilson brought with him mile-high expectations for the Broncos to put together a postseason run after six straight seasons of falling short of the playoffs.

“We’re excited that he’s in town, there’s no question. He’s kind of the piece that we needed,” Elway said Wednesday, via the Associated Press.

From Trevor Siemian to Drew Lock with a Case Keenum here, a Joe Flacco there and a Brett Rypien and plenty more in between, the Broncos’ quarterback carousel since “The Sheriff” holstered his guns has moved along at a dizzying pace. There’s been a plenty of promise along the way, but the end result has always been the same with the Broncos home for the playoffs.

Wilson is tasked with changing all that. Though he’s coming off a season in which he and the Seahawks failed to advance to the playoffs, it was just the second time in his career that he didn’t lead his squad to a postseason berth.

“Like any year, we’ve got to stay healthy, and we’ve had a tough time doing that last several years,” Elway said. “So, if we can stay healthy, Russell’s been there, he’s won the Super Bowls. He knows what it takes and the leadership that he’s providing is tremendous.”

The 2022 NFL season doesn’t kick off for more than three months, but Wilson’s already infused Denver with excitement and optimism. General manager George Paton delivered what Elway believes to be the missing piece to the Broncos’ championship puzzle, but Elway, who played in five Super Bowls, knows full well there’s still a long and arduous road ahead.

“George did a tremendous job of putting that deal together and getting him up here,” Elway said. “So, it’s great to see that fan base energized again, and we’ve got a chance to compete in that AFC West, which is obviously going to be tough.”

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