El­way won’t set­tle in 2017

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - M ARK KISZLA Den­ver Post Colum­nist

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.