By Julie Dixon // @ABroncoNole
Can 2017 be erased from my mind, please? Not sure anyone could have predicted the rotten outcome of this season, unless they were me screaming about what not to do for the last two years. Being “right” has been no consolation.
What John Elway does with the quarterback will either be his downfall or his saving grace. He’s a God in Broncos Country, but he’s sliding. Outside of signing Peyton Manning, he’s botched the handling of this position since 2012 and the disasters of his poor decisions (or allowing his coaches to make them) are now front and center.
In addition, since his time in the front office, only five players outside special teams have been listed as starters. This does not bode well for those believing veterans like Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib, Todd Davis, Brandon Marshall, Matt Paradis and Derek Wolfe should be let go in order to sign Kirk Cousins. It’s highly doubtful Elway will make enough savvy picks to fill those holes.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Denver has questions at wide receiver beyond Thomas and Sanders because Jordan Taylor had double hip surgery, Bennie Fowler and Isiah McKenzie had issues with drops, and Carlos Henderson was arrested for pot which means he may miss some games and he looked bad last preseason. Also, they have no legitimate tight end. One can hope Jake Butt coming off an ACL will hit the season running, but that’s still a question.
Denver is one giant question mark. They’ve yet to hire an outside linebacker coach. They have new coaches for the guards, running backs, wide receivers, special teams and defensive backs. If your stomach is doing a little flutter, join the club.
Denver allowed right tackle Donald Stephenson to walk, leaving Menelik Watson who went down injured. Thomas is due $4 million to keep his contract, Chris Harris Jr is due $1 million. Elway could play hardball with Thomas and let him test the free agent market if he won’t agree to a restructure. Virgil Green and C.J. Anderson will more than likely be gone.
There is no involved owner. To me, this is their greatest weakness and that lack of leadership from the top is showing up with more frequency. Since 2016, players have been allowed to throw shade or outright lay blame on fellow teammates. It’s now gotten so bad, that after the Redskins game, defensive players threw the quarterback they chose and made captain, under the bus. To continue that, Von Miller is begging for Cousins.
During the summer, Will Parks posted on snapchat some practice footage. He received no punishment. Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, Leonard Fournette was benched for a game for missing a photo shoot. It’s tough to see how cutting players for Cousins or drafting some new QB is going to fix what ails the Broncos. As a lifelong fan, it’s heartbreaking.
Watching three teams who had bottom or unranked QBs go to championship games makes it hurt worse. Those coaches found ways to win. They didn’t allow players to complain when they ended up with a QB they didn’t sign up for, or when Bortles turned the ball over five times in one game.
This franchise needs some major fixes so they don’t waste the good that’s there, and there IS some good there. There are shining stars like Justin Simmons Adam Gotsis and Domata Peko. However, steps need to be taken.
1) Sell the team. I adored Pat Bowlen and Joe Ellis is a good bean counter, but this team needs an owner who’s invested his own name and money, and to be the boss man. Most billionaires know how to run a tight ship.
2) Crack down on the players. Either all for one and one for all… or cut them. This team is soft and we’re seeing it every day.
3) Stop the coaching carousel. However, if Joseph can’t reel in his locker room, he needs to go. Hire a disciplinarian who will.
4) Either do a complete rebuild, draft a QB and go all in allowing this guy to fail all season, set the team up for 2020 and the next five years
5) Have Paxton Lynch start and use the draft pick to get a playmaker and spend on free agents. Set the team up for 2019 and then see if a QB is still needed. Do not pay big bucks for a QB and hurt the rest of the team.
Balance is the key in all things. Denver is a teeter totter with a moving fulcrum. It’s up to Ellis and Elway to stabilize the playground.
Talk Broncos with Julie on Twitter // @ABroncoNole