Elway won’t settle in 2017
When John Elway looks at the Broncos, he sees a Super Bowl contender. Don’t even suggest to him the window of opportunity to win a championship is closing on Denver.
“I don’t believe in windows. … Everybody talks about those windows, but I don’t, because we’re trying to do it every year,” Elway said Wednesday.
But win the Super Bowl this year? The Broncos? Is that realistic? Before the first drop of perspiration hits the ground at training camp, let’s try not to sweat two minor details:
No. 1: He’s Tom Brady. And Trevor Siemian is not.
No. 2: Vance Joseph (career record: 0-0) has a whole lot to learn before he can challenge Bill Belichick as the premier coach in pro football.
The two most recent champions in the NFL are New England and Denver. But the Patriots are considered the gold standard, while the Broncos are now regarded as chopped liver.
So, at the team’s annual summer barbecue, I asked Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas: How big is the gap between the Broncos and the Patriots?
“I don’t think it’s a big gap at all,” Thomas replied.
With all due respect to both Peyton Manning and Bubby Brister, the preseason camp that begins this morning at Dove Valley headquarters might attract more quarterback scrutiny than any year since 1983, when a young gunslinger from Stanford arrived in Colorado. Within minutes of sitting down with the media Wednesday, Joseph was asked 10 times and 10 different ways how long he will need to make up his mind between Paxton Lynch and Siemian.
“It’s a huge deal for our football team, and it’s a huge deal for those two guys, so to rush a decision without being sure makes no sense for everyone involved,” Joseph said. “I’m not concerned
about time. I want the best guy for this football team.”
Everybody in Broncos Country is itching to know which QB is going to start in a little more than six weeks, when the Los Angeles Chargers come to Denver for the home opener. I would humbly suggest a final answer at quarterback doesn’t have to be made until much later. As the season progresses, Lynch could unseat Siemian as starter. Or vice versa.
The Broncos don’t absolutely have to know the best man for the job until Nov. 12. That’s when Brady and the Patriots hit town for a Sunday night showdown with plenty of good seats available on the secondary market, as long as you’re willing to pay in excess of $600 per ticket.
It’s Brady and Belichick who make it appear everybody else in the NFL is playing for second place this season. New England has been installed as overwhelming 13-4 favorites to repeat as NFL champs, while Denver, which did win the Super Bowl less than 18 months ago, is projected by Las Vegas bookmakers as a team that will have a tough time winning more than half its games in 2017.
“It’s the National Football League. It’s not like the NBA, where a couple guys team together and it’s a wrap for all the other teams,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller said.
With a rebuilding project underway on the offensive line and the open debate at quarterback, this feels like another transitional year for the Broncos. Merely making the playoffs feels as if it would be pretty, pretty good.
Elway, however, never settles for good enough.
“Our goal and mission has not changed, and that’s to compete for the world championship,” he said.
Elway does not bow to the Patriots’ greatness and refuses to kiss Brady’s ring. His stubbornly competitive nature is a major reason why the Broncos rewarded Elway with a new, five-year contract, not to mention the fancy new title as president of football operations.
Franchise owner Pat Bowlen used to predict the Broncos would go 19-0 every season. Although it has been three years since Bowlen relinquished control of day-to-day operations for the team, the Broncos still approach every game, whether it’s against the Patriots or Chargers, as one they intend to win. To surrender that mentality and settle for anything less than excellence would be a major mistake, insists CEO Joe Ellis, because despite the team’s passionate fan base, “there’s a lot of other ways for people to spend their dough.”
Sit back and watch as the Patriots win another Super Bowl?
Elway does not believe in windows. His job is to kick down doors.