I had an epiphany watching the San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs game on Monday that caused me to reach some conclusions about this franchise and its fan base that I don't particularly like, but ring truer than any wild ass theory regarding our favorite teams past, present and future situation.
The fundamental problem with the Denver Broncos franchise is its fans. Yes. We are destroying our team from the outside-in. The seeds were planted back in 2006 and we are now reaping the fruits of our labor. I say our, because I too played a role in the overall degradation of the so-called base.
Before some of you freak out, listen to why I've come to this conclusion and what I feel is the solution to this problem.
A Pattern of Behavior
Failure to accept reality. In a nutshell, Broncos fans are failing to accept reality - even now as we continue through the depths of despair we delude ourselves into believing that playing Tim Tebow will set this franchise on the right path. Perhaps it will, that fate is undecided and I am not here to push either school of thought. I am here to point out a pattern of behavior.
Think back to Mike Shanahan's mantra of "compete for a Super Bowl ever year". We all bought the line hook, line and sinker. We made excuses for the terrible drafts and mediocre talent that filled the roster from 2007 and 2008. Many of us were excited over the signings of Niko Koutouvides or Keary Colbert. Heck we even looked for a reason to think Jamal Williams was a beast!
Then came Josh McDaniels and after the catastrophe of Shanahan's three game collapse, many of us felt refreshed to be moving in a different direction. Many of us overlooked McDaniel's obvious red flags in the hopes of returning to greatness. I won't go into great detail, but each and every year the fan base deluded itself into thinking this team was on the cusp of greatness.
We mocked teams who purposely implemented plans to rebuild from the top down. Teams like the aforementioned Chiefs. We laughed when they traded Jared Allen and unloaded Tony Gonzales and Larry Johnson. What was this team thinking? Their going to be terrible for years!
Yeah, look who is laughing now. The Chiefs went young. Got rid of their veterans and their best players. By doing so, they were able to build a new identity. They shed the old guard and installed a new. Most of you saw the results on Monday. You saw a young team filled with pride and competitive fire. The Broncos are still trying to maintain "we're all professionals" mantra of Mike Shanahan, but all they really are now is a team without collective desire. I am not one to buy the idea that teams are bad because they have no talent. In the NFL, teams are separated less by talent and more by the mental aspect of the game. The Broncos as a team (with or without Tebow) lack the mental toughness to compete in this league.
I began to see the light exactly a year ago as I write this post for tomorrow afternoon in a plea I wrote for Pat Bowlen. in it I said the following:
Fans and Journalists are not exactly macro-thinkers, rather they are invariably prone to emotional and irrational thoughts. A man in your position must look years into the future and I must believe you had to have known there would be more bad games than good games in the first two years.
12 months later it is plain to me now that Bowlen, nor anyone else in the front office, feels strong enough to do what is necessary. That is, to stand in the face of fan belligerence and make the personnel moves needed to right the Broncos ship.
Perhaps it is time to consider following the path the Kansas City Chiefs have laid out. For example, we trade Elvis Dumervil for a high draft pick, hopefully he will play his way into the first round by seasons end. We trade D.J. Williams for whatever we can get. I think Champ is a quiet leader and the Broncos would do well to keep him, however, every other aging veteran is expendable. Brian Dawkins, love your time here, but we need to get these young guys going. Kyle Orton, bye. Andre Goodman, see ya!
I know very few want to hear this and trust me when I say that I thought the Chiefs were completely insane to get rid of Jared Allen. I thought they were disloyal to get rid of Tony Gonzalez after so many years of greatness from him. You see, I bought that mantra of player loyalty - the country club mentality if you will - that began with Mike Shanahan and has continued through Josh McDaniels and now John Elway. And you know whose fault that is? Ours.
We demand it as fans. We insist that this franchise win football games regardless of long term realities. This franchise has drafted poorly in nearly every draft since 2000. This franchise is unwilling to spend big money on free agents, thanks in large part to major failures in that area as well. The only solution is to rebuild through the draft, but that will not likely force a change in the culture and mentality of this franchise as a whole.
In essence, I have come to the conclusion we are better off blowing it up and rebuilding the franchise from the ground up. We'll get the picks necessary and we'll change the culture of a franchise that has lost its way. Heck, blowing it up may even allow Tim Tebow the time he needs to overcome his flaws and become the type of quarterback many of us, myself included, think he can become.
I doubt any of this will happen, because this fan base will not allow it. We will string this along with pride and arrogance until we find ourselves years deep into an Oakland Raiders-type of collapse.