Before John Fox was essentially fired, before we learned the extent of Peyton Manning's injury, and before their season ended on Sunday, there were already several big offseason questions facing the Broncos.
There was the status of Adam Gase and Jack Del Rio. The free agency of Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Terrance Knighton, Orlando Franklin, and Rahim Moore. Von Miller's contract. The state of the offensive line.
On second thought, the offensive line may have been Denver's hottest burning question before Sunday. Put simply, the group was largely terrible in 2014.
Throughout the offseason, we've heard from Johns Elway and Fox that the Broncos plan to have Nate Irving, Steven Johnson, and Stewart Bradley compete for the starting middle linebacker job.
As always, actions speak louder than words.
So does Denver's decision not to draft an inside linebacker (they instead signed CU's Doug Rippy and BYU's Uona Kaveinga as undrafted rookies) mean they're happy with what they've got?
Broncos guard Chris Kuper has opted out of the Pro Bowl, and will soon undergo surgery to repair a reaggravation of the injury that ended his 2011 season.
Kuper endured a gruesome leg injury in the 2011 regular season finale which included a dislocated ankle, several torn ligaments, and multiple breaks in his fibula.
A broken forearm suffered during training camp last summer caused the seventh-year guard to miss the season's first five games, and he reinjured his leg injury Week 9 at Cincinnati.
Initial X-rays revealed no further damage, but the injury ended up keeping Kuper out of Denver's Week 14 game at Oakland, and it was at that point discovered that Kuper's leg was again in poor shape.
John Elway joined the usually gruff Sandy Clough yesterday morning on 104.3 The Fan, Denver's local sports talk radio station. He opened up quite a bit on his thinking over the last two years on the job. I was struck by one particular answer regarding Clough's glowing praise for Peyton Manning's intelligence:
There were a lot of good things that Peyton hadn't seen before that Mike McCoy and Gase were doing...Peyton saw something he hadn't seen in 14 years...so he got some new ideas from McCoy and Gase. And to me it made that package that much better and I think that's why we had the year we had offensively.
This is a slightly different narrative than the one we're used to--you know, the one that paints the Broncos as an exact replica of the Peyton Manning Machine that existed in Indianapolis. Perhaps this was true at the beginning of the year, when the Broncos utlized the fullback more often, but my guess here is that Elway doing what all good bosses do, which is to spread the credit around so that everyone feels ownership over the result. Elway could be helping McCoy out as well, during a time when teams across the league want to know that McCoy has the chops to be a head coach. Of course, the final explanation could be the most likely: McCoy knows his stuff, and in his time in Denver (and beyond), he picked up some additional offensive strategies from guys like boy genius Josh McDaniels (gasp!).
(Note: This is the third part in
an Epic a mini ten-part series on the Worst Moves of 2011; we'll also be doing a ten-part mini on the Ten Best Moves of 2011. If you want to see #10: Trading Jabar Gaffney, click here; #9: The Duke Takes on Twitter, click here.)
As Tom Nalen said earlier in the week, it's all Josh McDaniels' fault.
Last time we hooked up, dear readers, I pointed out John Elway's mishaps into social media. I speculated that because of the previous regime, one in which Josh McDaniels went all WW2 propaganda on everyone (loose lips sink ships, y'all), the Denver Broncos were set on making 2011 one in which there were multiple points of contact, interviews were as easy to come by as substance abuse in Oakland, and the organization was open and transparent as a Knowshown Moreno personalized license plate.
(Note: This is the second in
an Epic a mini ten-part series on the Worst Moves of 2011; We'll also be doing a ten-part mini on the Ten Best Moves of 2011. If you want to see #10: Trading Jabar Gaffney, click here.)
Social media--it's all the rage. Like a moth to a flame (or an illiterate with an eye piercing to a bag of K2), corporations are flinging themselves headlong into the space with little thought of the results of their actions. The recent McDonald's Chicken McNuggets Twitter disaster is just one example.
The Denver Broncos' foray into social media, while not a meltdown of epic proportions, was certainly fraught with its share of missteps. And that's why John Elway's venture into Twitter is #9 on our list of the Ten Worst Moves of 2011.
After the regime of Josh McDaniels, in which nothing was given, contact was limited to only one Napoleonic figure, and misinformation was as highly prized as the real McCoy, the Broncos felt like social media was an opportunity to reconnect with fans and present a kinder, gentler organization. In fact, Jim Saccomano, Vice President of
Kool-Aid Public Relations, tweeted in September of 2011: "Level of availability to press by coach Fox, John Elway, and personnel people unmatched in recent Denver seasons."
That sounds downright neighborly. And you can hardly blame the Broncos. McDaniels might have been headed down the path of Scott Pioli for all we know, and with Brian Xanders so afraid to express his desire to draft Clay Matthews, he might have gone into a shell.
(Note: This is the first part in a
Epic mini ten-part series on the Worst Moves of 2011; We'll also be doing a ten-part mini on the Ten Best Moves of 2011)
When John Elway and John Fox entered the 2011 season, one thing stood out above all others, and it had nothing to do with Tim Tebow.
The Broncos had a glut at the wide receiver position. Coming back were All-Pro Brandon "The Pretzel" Lloyd, jackknife Eddie Royal, Jabar "Steadyhands" Gaffney, and a whole host of hotshot whippersnappers like Eric "GQ" Decker, Demaryius "MiniTron" Thomas, Matthew "Don't call me Matt" Willis. Add in a hyped-up tight end class from the 2011 Draft and the Broncos had a problem.
Too many hands and not enough balls (yeah, I just wrote that).
At the same time, the Broncos had potential holes on the defensive line. Compounding the problem was the 2011 Draft, in which, for the second straight year, the Broncos completely ignored the defensive tackle.
In every good hero's journey, the chosen one must eventually leave his mentor behind in order to face his quest alone.
And that sucks. No one wants to leave the comfort and safety of their Jedi Academy.
It helps, though, when your mentor wears a hoodie. Ask Luke Skywalker.
If the reports are true, Kyle Orton is questionable for tomorrow's game against the Raiders. Statistically, players who are listed as "questionable" end up playing about 50% of the time. Thus, I'd say it's probably no better than a coin flip we'll see Tim Tebow.
That's good enough for me. Let the hero with a thousand faces step into the Black Hole--where only the most butch of drag queens fear to tread--and take on the Sith Lord himself, Al Davis.
Tebow's first start against the Raiders? Are you kidding me?
It had to be destiny. Only a guy who can casually take a Friar Tuck haircut is worthy of standing in the Oakland Coliseum with a predominantly orange light saber and severing the head of the Raiders' season.
If you're not with Studesville, the terrorists win.
If you're not with Ellis, you don't bleed orange and blue (gross).
If you're not down with waiting for
Godot Tebow, then, well, you're a Raiders fan.
Broncos fans, stop your incessant jabbering. You've no right to demand the Broncos play Tim Tebow. Haven't you heard? Phil Rivers and Aaron Rodgers rode the pine for centuries before they hit the field.
So shut your pie holes. Got it? No? Well let me give you some reasons why the Broncos shouldn't start Tebow before Joe Ellis takes off his tie, rolls up his sleeves, and bitch slaps you.
Pat Bowlen, at the age of 66, no longer runs triathlons; he tears it up on the stationary bike instead.
For those that question whether or not Josh McDaniels will be around to tear up the AFC West this year, Bowlen had this to say to AOL's Fanhouse tonight:
"I am not interested in making a coaching change."
Straight from the
horse's Broncos' mouth, Denver fans. Bowlen isn't taking his coach to the woodshed--this year at least.
Get used to Josh McDaniels. The hoodie, the baseball cap, and the baby-faced protege is sticking around for awhile, whether you like him or not. Personally, I'd like to see him sport a Fu Manchu moustache for the last 5 games. That way, he'd at least be dressed the part of the villain, which is the part the national media has cast him in for the last
Why would Bowlen--a guy known for staying behind the scenes and rarely granting interviews--suddenly give an impromptu interview to AOL Fanhouse late into the evening? It's simple. He had to do it.