The Broncos put Kendall Hinton in an impossible situation, and they deserve all the blame

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Doug Farrar
·3 min read
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Per Pro Football Reference, there are 10 instances in NFL history in which a quarterback attempted at least five passes, completed none of those passes to anyone on his own team, and threw at least two interceptions to the other team. The list of quarterbacks includes Joe Gilliam (1973) and Terry Hanratty (1974) of the Steelers, and Johnny Unitas (1971 for the Colts) and Jim Harbaugh (1998 for the Ravens). So, there are a lot of on-purpose starting quarterbacks in the annals of NFL history who have done far worse than Kendall Hinton did for the Broncos in Denver’s 31-3 loss to the Saints on Sunday.

Hinton, a practice squad receiver before all of Denver’s four quarterbacks were deemed unavailable for the game due to COVID concerns, didn’t even know some of his teammates, and he was facing one of the NFL’s better defenses. During his five years at Wake Forest from 2015 through 2019, the QB/WR hybrid completed 133 of 251 passes for 1,504 yards, eight touchdown passes, and seven interceptions. There was no way Hinton was going to succeed, but because the Broncos had a COVID disaster among their quarterbacks, and it happened late in the week, there was no recourse — no other quarterback to sign and get up to speed given the league’s coronavirus protocols.

What happened was, Broncos backup quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive this week, and all three of Denver’s other actual quarterbacks (Drew Lock, Blake Bortles, and Brett Rypien) were not using masks while in close contact — which Lock later confirmed on Twitter.

A clear mistake, and though nobody deserves the potential result, Hinton certainly didn’t deserve what might wind up being his only shot at the NFL. Hinton completed one of his nine attempts for 13 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions, so he at least avoided the above list of ineptitude. He also doesn’t deserve any of the heat that may be coming his way. The Broncos were careless, they ran afoul of the league’s protocols even through the league has outlined those protocols in explicit detail over and over throughout the season.

So, there’s no point in showing Hinton’s interceptions. We all knew he was going to throw them. We all knew this was going to be a disaster. The Broncos knew this was going to be a disaster. That’s why they actually tried to get the NFL to let them activate offensive quality control coach Rob Calabrese on the roster as a quarterback, but the NFL wouldn’t allow that. Calabrese played quarterback and receiver at UCF from 2008 through 2012.

Yes, he does. The Broncos’ “actual” quarterbacks? Not so much at this point.