ENGLEWOOD — This Broncos’ bye week allows time to reflect on what’s happened and consider what needs to be done in the immediate and long-term future.
Not surprisingly, several fans have enough conviction in their observations and ideas, they took time to write into the 9NEWS Broncos mailbag. Many of these thoughts focus on general manager John Elway and head coach Vance Joseph – again, not surprisingly considering the Broncos are 3-6 at the break:
Perspective on the Elway legacy:
1. He inherited a mess – Tim Tebow/Kyle Orton.
2. He fixed it with Peyton Manning/Brock Osweiler.
3. He went to two Super Bowls, winning one (Osweiler, a cheap 2nd round option won 5 games as the backup—people forget that).
4. Osweiler went for the money and Elway did not spend to keep him (Who knows how he might have panned out if he hadn’t gotten lost in Houston.)
5. Then with no QB and no real chance of trading for one, or for a top 5 draft pick, he went after who was considered the best remaining option knowing that Paxton Lynch would be a project and a late flyer on Trevor Siemian hoping the defense could carry the team. It couldn’t.
6. Faced with the choice of killing his cap with Kirk Cousins; killing his future drafts trading for a top 3 spot; spending a bunch of draft capital to move up for a mid-round QB instead of stockpiling 2nd and 3rd round talent, he went with journeyman Case Keenum and Mister Irrelevant, Chad Kelly.
Case is not bad but also not great so far and Mr. Irrelevant has made himself permanently so.
7. It now appears Elway is getting ready to do something in the 2019 draft.
8. Great QBs do not grow on trees. How many teams have elite QBs and how long do they generally take to develop (the Patrick Mahomes of the world aside)? All the 1st round QBs this year are starting, showing promise and struggling. And the Dak Prescotts of the world always come back to earth. And the Russell Wilson’s are severely limited when the talent around them is diminished.
9. You simply cannot expect to win consistently without skill and experience at the QB position AND a strong supporting cast. You also cannot gut the team and spend the cap or draft capital to get one—case in point, Aqib Talib was a direct casualty of signing Keenum—and Bradley Roby has proven he is no Talib… You hope it works, but ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ will generally have consequences
10. Elway has fixed a thoroughly broken team; taken them to the top; and has since been trying to keep the band together; add young talent; and win with modest QB investment. It hasn’t worked, but when you look at this team you don’t go ‘what a (#%&*) mess!’ It’s a good QB away from being very competitive—Do people think Elway doesn’t know that?
Would they rather a situation like the Colts over the last few years—a superstar QB (Andrew Luck) mostly on IR because the team is crap? If you sell the farm for a QB, you can expect years of pain
11. What Elway has done/is doing may or may not work, but it is not because he is incapable of recognizing QB talent.
12. I think Elway knows only too well from personal experience how hard it is, even for an ultra-talented QB, to carry a talent-challenged team on his back. Even with Manning, it was about building a team that could win with less-than-otherworldly QB performance. The alternative is ‘chasing rainbows’…
– George Hanson
George – Well done. I’ve covered Elway since Day 1 of his general managership and I believe he’s grown exponentially on the job. He’s a much better GM today than he was in his early years, yet he had way more success early.
Know why? Because there is no such thing as genius in sports. Unless you have a quarterback. Vince Lombardi and Bill Belichick were the closest things to NFL geniuses and both had Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
The Broncos’ decline since Super Bowl 50 was a perfect storm of Peyton Manning retiring, Osweiler becoming a free agent, having the worst pick of the draft, and the allusion that defense wins championships.
Manning, remember, had 9 touchdown passes against 17 interceptions in the Super Bowl season of 2015. Defense carried the day. But as it turned out, it was a once-every-generation defense. The Denver D has been mostly good since Super Bowl 50, but it’s never been great. It hasn’t been good enough to carry less-than-stellar quarterback play.
I think it’s also fair to say Peyton Manning at his worst is better than all but maybe four or five quarterbacks in terms of playing winning football when it matters most.
Elway would have gladly taken Carson Wentz to start the 2016 season. That was his guy. But Elway wasn’t picking No. 2. He was picking No. 31. (The Patriots had to forfeit their first-round pick because of the Deflategate fallout).
He traded up to No. 26 to get Paxton Lynch, who didn’t work out. Because he took Lynch No. 1 in 2016, he wasn’t in the market to draft Mahomes or Deshaun Watson in 2017. And Lynch even may have had a part in Elway not moving to take one of the Big 4 QBs this year. The Lynch fallout is what caused the Broncos to start chasing rainbows.
I want credit for the C.S. Sky nickname, Klis. Lol. Does Courtland Sutton have a twitter? Maybe I should tweet at Emmanuel Sanders and he'll relay it to him. Ha Ha! His catches are like a crime scene. Defenders getting dropped.
– Art Mensing, San Antonio
Art – The Twitter handle you seek is @SuttonCourtland. Good thought on the nickname. Speaking of nicknames, I looked at it and thought C.S. Sky Sox, the no longer Triple-A baseball team in Colorado Springs. The Sky Sox and Colorado College hockey teams were my first, full-time beats. It was a time when scoops weren’t known until they hit the driveway the next morning.
It’s ludicrous Sky Sox management is now thinking of renaming its franchise. “Sky Sox” is greatest nickname ever for a baseball team located near the base of Pikes Peak.
And now the Triple-A Sky Sox are moving to your town, Art, where I assume the franchise will be renamed the Missions, which was the name of your Double-A club.
Anyway, C.S. Sky. It’s great.
Good evening, do you think D.T. is a Ring of Famer when he is done?
– Todd Krause
Todd – I do, although Demaryius Thomas probably didn’t help his candidacy when he went on the team-oriented radio station last week and fired salvos at the Broncos’ football leadership. But he won’t be eligible until five years after he retired and by then everyone he criticized will likely be gone. And even if Elway is still around, I’m sure D.T.’s remarks won’t seem like a big deal five, six or seven years from now.
Thomas is statistically the second-best receiver in Broncos history, ahead of Ring of Famers Lionel Taylor and Haven Moses. Thomas also helped the Broncos win one Super Bowl (105 catches, 1,304 yards in 2015) and reach another (92 catches, 1,430 yards, 14 touchdowns in 2013).
Stats and Super Bowls make D.T.’s selection for the Ring of Fame a certainty. But if immortal distinction is important to him, he might want to tone down the rhetoric, just in case.
Mike, I’m a long-time follower of yours I have a question about the Broncos? Why isn't Mike Shanahan in the Ring of Fame? Is there bad blood between him and the Bowlens?
– Brian Abeyta
Brian – Considering Pat Bowlen fired Shanahan after the 2008 season, there is no bad blood between Shanahan and the Bowlens. Shanahan understands the business. He still lives in Denver with his wife, Peggy. He has a restaurant here.
Shanahan will go in the Broncos Ring of Fame – he was their best head coach of all time -- but what many people don’t realize is he’s not eligible to next year. He last coached for Washington in 2013.
There’s a chance he goes in with Champ Bailey next year, which would be a nice touch. But the Ring of Fame committee also must be convinced Shanahan is done coaching.
I don't tweet. I don't Facebook. Two words after this last mess. Jim Schwartz.
– Roy L. Johnson
Roy – Elway said he is sticking with Vance Joseph and the head coach deserves the chance to finish out what is turning out to be another disappointing season. If the Broncos finish, say, 5-2, maybe the team won’t go through its third coaching search in four years.
If Elway does make a change at season’s end, my guess is he goes with an offensive-based coach. In today’s NFL, 30 points can’t be an exception. The 30-point mark must be reached on a regular basis. This would preclude Schwartz, who is a defensive coordinator. A good one. But a defensive coach.
Hey Mike, everyone keeps talking about Coach Joseph's job, but Elway hired useless QB's, hired many coaches, let go many players, including solid QB's playing or backing up for other teams, nor did anyone but Elway let Phillips get away, and appears to be doing nothing to get out of his office to help our present faltering QB.
When will people start talking about Elway's job, or even Ellis for that matter. Joseph isn't throwing interceptions, nor did he get the taunting call, nor is he having all the holding calls like our (Elway’s) No. 1 pick!! I am not an insider, please enlighten me, and the other fans. Is Elway untouchable?
– Zig Soper
Zig – Elway has received plenty of heat the past year or so. I don’t know if Elway is untouchable but if ever someone has earned such a regal distinction, it would be him. He is the Denver Broncos.
But the Chicago Bears once fired Mike Ditka and, more improbably, the Green Bay Packers once fired Bart Starr. In professional sports, if you’re hired, it usually means you may eventually be fired.
The Packers did give Starr nine seasons as head coach and head of football operations. He had just two winning records, and one playoff appearance, in those nine seasons. Still as a die-hard Packer fan at the time, my thought was: Give Bart a 10th season and he’ll figure it out. I probably wouldn’t have thought that way today.
As an objective observer of the Broncos, here’s the way I look at Elway’s GM position: He won five AFC West Division titles, two conference championships and one Super Bowl in his first five years. That buys him at least five more years.
Shanahan, after all, got 10 more years with just one playoff win after he won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997-98. Shanahan’s post-Super Bowl era, though, largely came pre-social media.
The public outrage has intensified. It’s more difficult to hang in through lean times these days. Perhaps, that’s a good thing.
This is the third consecutive year the Broncos won’t make the playoffs. They are likely to suffer back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72. This isn’t Detroit or Cincinnati or Tampa Bay or Arizona. This is the Denver Broncos – a proud franchise with enormous expectations largely built by Elway as a 16-year, Hall of Fame quarterback and now an 8-year GM who still has had more success than failure.
Elway will be under heavy pressure to build a Broncos roster that finishes in the playoffs in either 2019 or 2020. His contract runs through 2021.