Updated December 10, 2006 at 1:30 p.m.
The Jay Cutler era is here, and I say bring it on.
What's that you say?
But what if the Broncos don't make the playoffs?
You mean they were going to make the playoffs with Jake Plummer behind center and a running attack that's hardly lived up to Denver standards?
But what if Cutler isn't good?
Isn't it better to see what the kid from Vanderbilt is made of now instead of wasting another season or two?
But the Broncos are paying Plummer way too much to hold a clipboard full time.
This is the NFL. If he's not happy being a No. 2 guy, Plummer can look for greener grass elsewhere, and I'm sure Pat Bowlen will happily pay Jake what he's owed (about $12 million in bonuses and other incentives) and give him a high-five (oops, too slow) on his way out the door.
Listen, the Broncos could lose every game the rest of the season and benching Jake the Mistake will still be Mike Shanahan's best decision since trading Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins for Champ Bailey and a second-round draft pick (with which the Broncos selected Tatum Bell). How'd that work out for you, Joe Gibbs?
An aside: Has there ever been a defensive back as fundamentally sound and fun to watch as Bailey?
If it wasn't painfully obvious during the Thanksgiving Day debacle against the Kansas City Chiefs that Plummer just can't cut it - and doesn't deserve any more chances to prove otherwise - than you need to wipe the stuffing from your eyes.
During the past couple of years the Broncos have built a defense unlike anything seen in the Mile High City since the Orange Crush. And in the success-is-fleeting world of the NFL, Denver can't expect Bailey, Al Wilson, John Lynch & Co. to be a dominating unit for more than a couple of years.
That means every snap Cutler takes behind center moves the Broncos closer to establishing an offense capable of scoring more than 14 points a game. And don't tell me you're not excited at the possibility of watching a potential franchise player build a career from the turf up.
Shanahan - his decision-making perhaps influenced by Bill Parcells' benching of mistake-prone veteran Drew Bledsoe in favor of unknown backup Tony Romo - realized that even if the Broncos made the playoffs with Plummer as the signal caller, they couldn't make a run to South Florida and Super Bowl XLI. And after making it to the AFC Championship last year, how can anything less than the Super Bowl be satisfying?
So now we'll watch a rookie QB get his feet wet with the big boys, and I've promised myself to be patient through the mistakes. After putting up with Plummer for the past four seasons, we owe Cutler at least that much.
And the best news? The Broncos are still in the thick of the playoff hunt.