Chad Kelly reacts to Broncos Stadium chanting his name

Chad Kelly reacts to Broncos Stadium chanting his name
(Photo: RJ Sangosti, Getty)

After a breakout performance in his NFL debut on Saturday night, will the first-year quarterback Chad Kelly finally receive some second-team reps in practice?

“We’ll see. We’ll watch the tape and see where we are,” Head Coach Vance Joseph said post-game.

Translation: we’re going to have to wait to see what the boss man has to say on the matter. But Kelly was so good against the Vikings, and Paxton Lynch so bad, even the great John Elway won’t be able to shield his former first-round pick.

For his part, Kelly remains humble. Coming out of the 42-28 loss to Minnesota, he is cultivating the right mindset and is extremely disappointed in himself for throwing that ill-timed interception in the fourth quarter when it was still a one-possession game. There is no sense of entitlement from the former Ole Miss star.

“I can’t look at it that way,” Kelly said after the game. “I have to make sure I keep my nose in the playbook and keep studying. I should have studied more on the main zone reads otherwise I wouldn’t have thrown a pick but it’s not about that.”

At a certain point, when Kelly was feeling it on the field during his second possession, the crowd at Broncos Stadium at Mile High began to chant his name; “Kelly! Kelly! Kelly!”

However, he’s not letting the adulation go to his head.

“I wanted to win this game, I don’t really care about all that,” Kelly said. “Like I said, there’s a lot of things that we can get better at, but there were also a lot of good things that came from this game, too. It’s a learning experience, my first game in 646 days and I’m excited to have the opportunity to be on a great team.”

As I wrote Saturday night, Kelly’s performance when put in the proper context of having not played football for almost two years, is actually quite remarkable. The kid has overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles and is on his way to not only vanquishing a first-rounder but also in winning a roster spot.

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Not bad for being the last player picked in the 2017 NFL draft. Dropping almost out of the draft had a lot to do with the injuries to his knee and wrist, the latter of which was suffered during his Pro Day.

“It’s been 646 days,” Kelly said. “I didn’t think going into pro day that I’d have a messed up wrist walking out of there and now I have this opportunity to play on a great team in the Denver Broncos and be surrounded by great players.”

Kelly doesn’t have delusions of grandeur, at least not right now. He recognizes the QB pecking order and Case Keenum’s position as King of the Hill. He sounds grateful to have a veteran example of Keenum’s caliber. 

“We have a leader at quarterback that I can learn from and we have great coaches that are going to put us in great situations and we have a great offensive line,” he said. “Those guys are really playing well. They know what they’re doing and we’re all playing at a very high level and we’re just going to keep getting better each and every day.”

Denver’s third-team O-line played surprisingly well, and for the most part, bought Kelly the time he needed to dissect the Vikings defense. It’s a veteran move to give his teammates credit in the media, especially when he was the local star of the evening. Keenum is definitely wearing on him.

Kelly was champing at the bit to hit the playing field, but his first priority was to win the game and he came up short. He finished 14-of-21 for 177 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.

What’s the one thing Kelly plans to work on coming out of his Broncos debut?

“Identifying if a man is in zone, read the coverages better,” Kelly said. There’s so much I can get better at. Even the great ones have to get better each and every day. I can’t wait to watch the film, get back to work tomorrow and keep grinding.”

Will Kelly get second-team reps this coming week, as the Broncos hold joint-practice sessions with the Chicago Bears? Only time will tell, but I’d be shocked if it doesn’t happen. He was that electric.