Of the many memories of John Elway, one of the first thing most fan’s remember is the cannon arm he had. Some remember the famous “drive” he had that sealed a playoff victory against the Cleveland Browns in 1987. Personally, I remember him trying to be a helicopter in Superbowl XXXII. But holding up his first Lombardi Trophy in 1997 will be forever cemented into the minds of Broncos fans everywhere.
But that was him as a player. How has he done as the executive of the Denver Broncos? To say he has been anything less than awful would be an understatement. Had it not been for Peyton Manning and the success he brought to Denver, Elway would’ve been chased out of Denver long ago. But before I just sit here and ask John Elway to retire, let me explain why:
In December of 2010 he shared interest in joining the Broncos, and even had dinner with Pat Bowlen. However, Elway was quoted saying “I’m not interested in being a head coach. I’m not interested in being a General Manager. I don’t have that kind of experience to be able to pick those players day in and day out and such.” This would only be proven over time.
So it began, and alas, Elway was hired on Janurary 5th, 2011. Elway would become the General Manager and Executive Vice President of Football Operations of the Broncos. He was even given the ability to have the final say in all football matters. His first decision was to draft Von Miller, whom many hoped and expected him to do in the first place.
In his first season as the Broncos GM Elway had the ugly task of deciding what to do with Tim Tebow. A beloved human being in the city of Denver, many hoped John would determine the right course of action to help Tebow improve. In their first season together, the Broncos would go 8-8. Tebow would start 11 of them and, amidst the doubts, had 5 fourth quarter comebacks. The season would end in New England, but nobody in Denver will ever forget the Steelers game in the Wild Card Playoff game.
Then it happened. Peyton Manning would announce the Denver Broncos as his destination, and the “first strike” would occur. There was no doubt Tebow struggled throwing the football. In fact, most would say he sucked. However, most fans agreed that Elway should keep him and have him learn under Manning for a few years. After all, Tebow would even agree, miracles can happen. But he was traded to the New York Jets, and many fans were left wondering why.
But it was forgotten about quickly, as for the next four years Denver and Peyton Manning would nearly dominate the league. Winning the AFC West 4 times, winning the AFC Championship twice, and winning 1 Super Bowl. Peyton Manning even squeezed out an MVP Award and one of the best seasons any QB has ever had. It was magical.
But Peyton left, and it was back to the trash the Broncos went. Going 9-7, 5-11, and 6-10 over the next three seasons. 2019 hasn’t been an improvement in the slightest, either, as they are currently sitting at 2-6 and at the bottom of the AFC West. So what is the problem? Why can’t Elway seem to figure it out? Well, let’s go back to his initial comment: “I don’t have that kind of experience to be able to pick those players day in and day out and such.”
He was right. In 9 different drafts, Denver has yet to find a QB to take over behind center. Outside of drafting Von Miller and signing the undrafted Chris Harris Jr, the ability to select star talent doesn’t appear to exist with Elway. Outside of the four years with Peyton, here is the Broncos record: 30-42 (41.6%).
In his fifth season (again, excluding the years with Manning, a legendary QB), he has taken steps backwards. Then today, on the 29th day of October, Elway had a chance to make trades to improve the team. He could’ve possibly made attempts to get Cam Newton or Teddy Bridgewater to help the painful QB situation Denver faces. He didn’t, so the Broncos will go into the 2020 NFL Draft hoping Elway can pick the right guy. But he has proven, and self admitted, that he does not have the ability to do so.
Although John Elway is often considered one of the greatest QB’s ever, his executive skill set does not match that of his on field talents. Perhaps he can stick around as VP, but his ability to make football decisions needs to be removed. I understand that under Elway’s helm as GM he does have a Super Bowl. But let’s not discount Wade Phillips or Gary Kubiaks importance to the team those years. Without those two, and Peyton, Denver may have never seen a trophy at all.
It’s time Elway admits to himself he is not suitable for his role. At the end of the season, perhaps, he can do us all a favor and step down. After all, the first step to anything is accepting there is a problem in the first place right? And Elway, I am sorry to say it, but you have a problem on your hands. Based on your track record, you aren’t suited to fix it.
Do you think Elway should step down or be fired? Discuss below.
Featured Photo Credit: Jon Heath/USA Today
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