After Sunday's loss in Kansas City that eliminated the Super Bowl champions the Denver Broncos from playoff contention, coach Gary Kubiak told his players that 2016 was history, a huge disappointment, and to get it out of their systems before the team charter touched down at DIA.
"We need to move on to next year," Kubiak said Sunday night according to the Denver Post.
OK, so let's dance.
Moving on to next year begins this year. And with one game remaining, it looks like the 8-7 Broncos are (again) facing uncertainty at quarterback in 2017.
So let's take a look at four choices John Elway, Kubiak and company face:
Get Trevor Siemian a legit offensive line
No matter who's the quarterback in 2017, he has got to have a better O-line in front of him. Part of that is injuries this season, but part of it was the turnstiles masquerading as tackles, too, which left opponents able to press from the interior, which broke down the offense in countless ways.
Is this an Elway thing? Not developing depth along the offensive line? Is it coordinator Rick Dennison, and indictment of him and Kubiak?
Like a lot of things in the NFL, there's no single reason. But the effect was on display on national TV on Sunday night: The Broncos couldn't run, couldn't pass and couldn't score. In fact, hat tip to the D for setting up the Broncos' only TD with an interception.
That said, if Siemian isn't suffering from an arm problem, then he's got a different, larger problem. He couldn't accurately stretch the field for most of the season and that short-arm action on Sunday was as likely to 1) get batted back or tipped, 2) get closer to a DB than receiver or 3) fall hopelessly incomplete than it was to hit a Broncos target.
Admit that Siemian was a place-holder for Paxton Lynch this season
The Broncos know as much about Lynch's long-term viability as a number one as Siemian's backup as they knew about Brock Osweiler after one season behind Peyton Manning.
Let's compare the threadbare stats: In his rookie season, Osweiler appeared in five games, but threw only four passes, completing two for 50 yards and no TDs. This season, Lynch saw more action because of injuries, appearing in three games but completing 49 of 83 passes for 497 and two TDs.
The point may have been driven home on Sunday — like a lot of points were on Sunday — when it was noted that Chiefs DT Dontari Poe has the second-most TD passes this season by a passer from Memphis.
Going all in on Lynch, as early as Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, isn't without risks.
Go after a veteran QB via trade
Speaking of Sunday, the game wasn't over yet when Tony Romo's name was rekindled among Broncos fans (fanned by rumors last month).
So let's address that: Just. Stop. Please.
Yes, Romo probably is the most appealing veteran alternative for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, realistic or not. But to recount …
He's 36, hasn't taken a regular-season snap in more than a year and played in only four games in 2015. And for that, he has a $14 million base and carries a $24.7 million cap hit in 2017.
But, fans say, the Broncos took a risk on Manning, and look how that turned out.
Repeat: Just. Stop. Please. (Unless Elway actually makes this move, in which case he immediately forfeits his stack of business cards ahead of the Combine.)
Scrap the whole thing and look at the NFL Draft
Hoo boy. Memo to the folks in marketing: Good luck with that season-ticket campaign: "Denver Broncos 2017: Here we go again (and not in a good way)."
There doesn't appear to be a franchise QB in this draft, so best-case is draft and develop. Is this the coaching staff to do that? Doubtful.
So backed into this corner, with the clock ticking on a defense that is aging in spots, it appears rolling the dice on Lynch is the most viable of some not-great alternatives. If that's the case — and surely there will be more changes by 2017, such as Dennison being moved out as offensive coordinator and focusing on the O-line — then it all begins on Sunday.
Beat the Derek Carr-less Raiders with Lynch at quarterback, and you've got something to build on — sort of.