Carney Column: Pump the brakes on the Chad Kelly hype train
Based off of the initial reaction following Saturday’s Broncos loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the first preseason game, third-string quarterback Chad Kelly is the future starting quarterback of the Denver franchise, and the closest thing the Broncos have come to reincarnating John Elway under center.
Slow down, folks.
Yes, Kelly played very well in the second half for the Broncos, going 14-for-21 for 177 yards and two touchdowns and one interception as the Broncos fell to the Vikings 42-28.
But let’s keep a few things in mind: that was Kelly’s first-ever action in an NFL game, it was against fellow third and fourth stringers who likely won’t make an NFL roster this season, and again, it’s the preseason.
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Kelly sure did look better than Paxton Lynch, who is playing his way off of the roster for good. But anointing him as the savior after Case Keenum is such a gross overreaction.
On Kelly’s first touchdown pass, there was nobody within 10 yards of Matt LaCosse down the left sideline, making it a layup of a throw for the score. Let’s not forget Kelly underthrew it too, forcing LaCosse to slow down to make the catch. Kelly’s second touchdown pass was a beautiful ball to Phillip Lindsay out of the backfield. Kelly stayed in the pocket facing an unblocked blitzer, took a huge shot and still delivered a strike for the score. But then the second-year quarterback followed up his two touchdowns with a dreadful interception in the fourth quarter, staring down his receiver and relying too much on his arm strength, allowing the defender to undercut the route for the pick.
Coming out of the game, the hype train around Kelly seems to be running full steam ahead. It’s in danger of derailing at this point because it’s moving so fast.
Seriously, slow down Broncos fans.
Let’s remember that Kelly was only drafted because Elway wanted to do Jim Kelly — Chad’s uncle and former Buffalo Bills star quarterback — a favor. After that, Kelly missed all of last season with a wrist injury. Now, after one preseason game he’s being anointed the second coming with the Broncos’ fan base.
It’s important to remember that while stats can be great on paper, the film doesn’t lie, and Kelly got away with a number of throws Saturday night against third and fourth stringers that he wouldn’t get away with against starters.
Kelly also had dead feet in the pocket, and rarely moved around buying blockers more time. That was a staple of his at Ole Miss, and now it appears to have disappeared from his game. With dead feet, he trusted his arm strength on a number of throws, rarely setting his feet properly in the pocket. That being said, he’s a confident passer and hasn’t seen a passing window he doesn’t think he can fit a ball into. More often than not, that’s a great thing to have with a quarterback, but the negative is that you can be Jay Cutler all over again. Yikes.
While Kelly had a good game Saturday night and really opened some eyes, two things can be true: he’s 100 percent better than Paxton Lynch was, is, and ever will be, and he isn’t an NFL starter.
Let’s see how he does on Saturday at home against the Chicago Bears before we anoint him. In that game, he might go against better talent since he was elevated to the No. 2 QB job. Time will tell, but slow down with the hype train.
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