The man who ran things as a player, is running things now as the CEO-General Manager.
Denver Broncos football was something special when John Elway was their quarterback. They were dangerous, they were daring, they were dynamic, all because of him.
Life brought him back to the leadership circle of the Broncos just a couple of years ago, and though they have been very good, they have not gotten to the ultimate, standing with a Super Bowl trophy, and being fitted for rings.
Elway was demanding as a player and it made him great. He is demanding too as an exec, and what has just happened in Dove Valley may not be great.
John Fox is out as head coach after a (48-16) four year run. But Elway cared little about winning AFC-West titles; that was only a stepping stone to the playoffs, and that was to lead to the Super Bowl.
The entire assistant staff, including Adam Gase and Jack Del Rio, both candidates for vacant jobs, were told they could leave and find employment elsewhere too..
17-hours after they ended the season, Elway cleaned house. And make no mistake about it, this was no mutual parting of the ways. This was the CEO-GM telling the head coach, you will change things, and we must get results.
They got their once under Fox, the Super Bowl, and they got their doors blown off last year by Seattle. The other years under Fox ended with shocking upset losses, some of them on their own turf.
Elway wanted a quarterback, and spent a ton to get Peyton Manning. He needed a culture change on defense, and he went out last summer and signed three marquee free agents to big money deals. They didn’t get it done, and the CEO was not going to fire the GM, himself, so next in the lkine of fire was Fox.
This is a huge gamble for Elway. Fox was proven, though not perfect, and stubborn to a degree. The staff was pretty respected. The roster had talent.
But there were shortcomings, more than just the Peyton Manning thigh and quad injuries. It was more than just 3-busted up running backs, or dropped passes by the big money receivers.
Fox bears a chunk of the blame, with game plans that resembled more Carolilna Panthers run oriented football, than the down the field things that made Manning and the Colts so great. It was Fox likely pressuring Gase to go heavy run not to extensive pass packages.
Maybe it was a beat up group of running backs. Maybe it was a leaky offensive line that could not handle the blitzes, that rocked Manning out of his comfort zone.
With 2-elite pass rushers, there just never seemed to be much in the way of blitz packages for Von Miller and DeMarcus Wasre. The ultra conservative Del Rio had something to do with that.
The offensive line moves of shoving Louis Vasquez out to right tackle, moving Orlando Franklin inside guard, and never getting a key young stud to grow for that front, was odd also.
And the end result Sunday night, watching the Colts play press coverage, redirect pass routes, make Manning throw outside the numbers, where he did not do well, meant ‘Fox and his fellow coaches got outcoached.
In the shadow of Pikes Peak, we now stand with the Broncos on the cliff. Elway has gotten ride of the entire coaching staff; his quarterback staggered to the end of the season; he has 17-free agents to deal with, and now there is a reputation he is very hard to work for, and you might not be your own man if you go work for the Broncos.
All this after four really good seasons, with that Hall of Fame quarterback. Yes it’s convenient to bring up Manning’s post-season record, one Super Bowl ring, and 9-losses in his teams opening round games over the years. But look deeper at what talent was or was not around Manning, all those seasons in Indianapolis and more recently in Denver.
John Elway. You remember him and all those marvelous down the field plays he made with Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith, Ricky Nattiel, Vance Johnson and the 3-Amigos. Daring, dynamic and dangerous.
Now he is the power broker. He better be right about what he just did, or the next phrases we will be saying about the Broncos are ‘down the drain’. MKile High could be headed to Mile Low soon.