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Kiszla: If “Sparky” Stidham is the answer at quarterback, Broncos are already doomed in 2024

As the calendar flips to 2024, they’re the same bad news Broncos. Your beloved local NFL franchise is unfit for the playoffs, boring to watch and throwing quarterbacks against the wall, hoping something will stick.

Happy New Year, everyone!

On a Sunday when they were eliminated from the NFL playoffs for the eighth season in a row, what did we learn about the Broncos during their 16-9 defeat of the woeful and uninspired Los Angeles Chargers?

No. 1: Jarrett Stidham is Trevor Siemian with lesser skill and better hair.

No. 2: Despite being the smartest football man in any room he enters, Denver coach Sean Payton is generally no better at identifying new quarterback talent than our old pal John Elway was.

After benching Russell Wilson to give the offense a spark, the Broncos looked remarkably similar and almost as difficult to watch as any time during the past eight years, whether the quarterback in the huddle was Case Keenum or Paxton Lynch, or the man in charge of the sideline has been Vic Fangio or Nathaniel Hackett. The Denver defense did everything it could to win the game, while the offense should’ve been included in the stadium’s no-show count,

“As far as a spark,” Stidham said, “I’ll let others talk on that.”

Well, with one NFL victory now to his credit, “Sparky” Stidham is 11 months younger than Patrick Mahomes, shares the same year of birth as Josh Allen and Joe Burrow, but is older than AFC quarterbacks Lamar Jackson, Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa, C.J. Stroud and Justin Herbert.

His future’s so bright, “Sparky” has gotta wear shades.

Against the physically bruised and emotionally spent Chargers, Denver displayed the same red-zone ineptitude under Stidham that got Wilson on Payton’s naughty list. But Stidham did show a spark, even if it was only one.

While his 31 other passing attempts were generally unremarkable, Stidham did one piece of improvisation that reminded us of Wilson at his best. He stepped up in the pocket to avoid a blitz midway through the second quarter to hit teammate Lil’Jordan Humphrey for a beautiful 54-yard score that proved to be the lone touchdown in the game.

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