Brett Rypien has taken cues from his Canadian Super Bowl-winning Uncle Mark.
In Week 4 of the 1988 regular season, the Calgary-born passer started his first career NFL game. His nephew will start in Week 4 for the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football against the New York Jets. He used patience and hard work to ascend to starter status for Washington.
“That’s been my MO, stemming from my Uncle Mark, a guy that works really hard in the film room and was a pro every single day,” Rypien said on a videoconference.
“You look at guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, that’s always been the standard for the position — how they work, how they watch film and how much they understand of the game.”
Rypien displayed the traits of a quarterback who has studied the game in his first career NFL action during Denver’s 28-10 Week 3 loss to Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 24-year-old signed with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent following the 2019 NFL draft. He dressed as a backup for three games in his rookie year and spent the rest of the season developing on the practice roster.
“I’ve always tried to take the mentality of, ‘get better every single day.’ I can go back to my Uncle Mark’s career, he sat his first two years on IR (injured reserve),” Rypien said.
“So having some conversations with him about that and seeing the way he overcame adversity throughout his first two years and was able to win a Super Bowl and be a starter for 15 years.”
The Broncos’ second-round pick in last year’s draft, Drew Lock, opened the season as Denver’s starting quarterback. Lock hurt his shoulder in Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and remains out with the injury.
Jeff Driskel started last Sunday, completing 17-of-30 passes for 176 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Trailing by 18 points with less than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Rypien was sent in with the offence.
“With regard to Brett, he executes well, he’s quick-minded, he gets the ball out quickly, which I think is important. He went in and he did some good things,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said.
Rypien completed his first eight attempts in a row, driving Denver down the field. It was an 11-play, 60-yard drive which took six minutes and 10 seconds. The final throw of the possession went to Jerry Jeudy in the end zone, but Mike Edwards read the ball from his safety spot and snared a one-handed interception.
Rypien said after the game that he tried to look Edwards off and fit in a tight throw to Jeudy on fourth down.
“Up until the last throw where he made a bad decision, and a bad read, he played pretty good in there, so we want to see if that can continue,” head coach Vic Fangio said.
“We think he deserves a chance here to see how he can do as a starter, albeit it a short week of preparation, and take a look at Brett that way.”
For the first start of his NFL career, Rypien will be on the primetime stage trying to guide Denver to the team’s first win of the season. The Broncos are 0-3 and need a win versus the winless Jets.
Rypien could be the offensive catalyst to boost Denver’s offence, which has averaged 15 points per game — the third lowest amount league-wide.
“I haven’t really tried to pay attention to the people that don’t believe in me. I can’t do anything about that, I just have to go out there and prove people wrong,” Rypien said. “No matter who we’re playing right now, we need definitely need a win, so that’s the main focus.”
“Everything is expedited when you play on Thursday night. You work longer and you work later,” Shurmur said. “Looking forward to putting the plan together for him to be able to execute and try to put that effort on the field and get a win.”
Fangio told Rypien he would be the starter on Monday and his parents were the first people the six-foot-two, 202-pound passer told. Father Tim was born in Calgary and played baseball professionally — the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the second round of the 1984 MLB draft.
“They’ve been supporting me my entire career, seen me come a long way. It was exciting for them to hear that I’m going to get a chance,” Rypien said.
It’s a safe bet that Uncle Mark is feeling the same way as his nephew looks to seize his chance at becoming a bona fide starting NFL quarterback.