Pat Bowlen, stung by the collapse at the end of the season and perhaps moreso by the taping scandal needed to get His Team moving in a new direction with a new attitude. The failed experiment known as McD left a bad taste...The Team was down and so were the Fans. I think this started or started to gain some traction when Elway was hired for his current position.
I recall that Champ's contract was up, he had his house on the market and my fear was that they were going to let him go. One of Elway's 1st order of business, besides hiring a new HC was to get Champ signed & locked up. Elway kept the fans up to date on the state of the Broncos via Twitter and the Team's Website.
In the 2011 Draft, The Broncos drafted Von Miller...I thought at the time that Patrick Peterson would be a better choice which is why I'm writing this and not running an NFL Team. I think we all know what Von has brought to Team and what his presence on the field means.
We went 8-8 last year and won the Wildcard Game on an incredible overtime play...Last season was fun, nerve-wracking, suspenseful/dramatic, and crazy. At the end of the day or season, if you will, Elway knew that Tebow was not the long term solution as the Broncos' QB.
We know the story of Peyton Manning and I need not go over it again. Suffice to say that going after Manning was a big, bold & brassy move and was initiated by Coach Fox. That Elway knew Manning personally didn't hurt either. It was considered a gamble by the 'experts' and that's why they comment rather run an NFL Team.
This Season got off to a good start against the Steelers and then we kinda kept shooting ourselves in the foot, hand, gut and various other body parts...We have some solid pieces in place but kept making mistakes, but the Team never gave up and fought to the last.
A few words on Coaching: No Coach at any time at any level instructs his players to fumble, miss assignments, miss tackles or throw INTs...Coaches do just the opposite and look for ways to minimize or eliminate mistakes. I have read some threads in which Coach Fox has been criticized for being too conservative, not up to speed, not letting Manning be Manning, inflexible etc. I disagree with those notions based on what he's said and what Manning himself has said. Coaches Fox & McCoy are in totally new territory insofar as having a talent such as Manning...Coach Fox knows exactly what to do with Von Miller, Elvis et.al. but he's never had a Player like Peyton & neither has McCoy. Suffice to say that they are Learning what to do rather than stay with the status quo...Manning is on record stating that he wanted to learn the Broncos system that was already in place and McCoy is on record stating " It would be foolish to not let Peyton have input in our scheme and play-calling." IOW, McCoy is also learning and this may be one of the few times the student just might know more than the teacher. They game-planned around Tebow's abilities and limitations last year and are game-planning around Manning's abilities and limitations this year. I'll register what I think is a legit criticism of Coach Fox on the notion of conservative play: Let Prater go for the long FGs...The guy has a monster leg and 55-60 yards isn't much of a problem...If we're playing at Mile High, let him kick a 65 yarder...I understand the battle for field position and most of the time punting is the right thing to do, but sometimes, you just gotta go for it!
On Defense: JDR has also been criticized and for some reasons, rightly so...Joe Mays comes to mind and it seems to take awhile before he makes some needed adjustments...IMO, legit critiques. On the whole, this defense is getting a little better and again, I think the Players and the Coach are again in new territory...New Coach and a somewhat new system and though it sounds so cliche', it takes awhile before they all really know each other. JDR and Coach Fox will work to improve this defense and though they might not break the Top 10, they will be close. Losing Warren in the 1st game really hurt but injuries are part of the game and you have to move on.
On Elway: His FA signings of: Tamme, Dreessen, Stokely and Koppen are paying off big time...He gave Manning some familiar faces with Stokes and Tamme and we saw the results against the Bolts. He drafted Wolfe who is a baller and learning how to play all along the line. I still think we need more depth on the OL & DL, but he can't rebuild the team in 1-2 drafts and FA signings. Most importantly, he has brought in good players and Team Players...He knows the importance of Veteran Presence in the Locker Room so he has a good mix of youth and experienced Veterans.
The Attitude: Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I didn't notice alot of former players hanging around the Facility when McD was dictating...There was this sense of them not being real welcome in the new regime...I could be wrong about this but that's what I remember. With Elway now running the show, I've seen the Welcome Mat out for all former players, most recently Brian Dawkins and Rod Smith...It was great to see all the Ring-Of-Famers at the Dinner for Rod and then again at the Game for his induction. These guys represent the best of the Broncos and it's good for the current players to get to know the former Greats.
The Players are seeing what the FO is doing which is build a winning team...How excited were Champ, Doom, Von, Decker, Thomas et. al. when they heard that Elway & Co were trying to sign Manning...This is now beginning to come to fruition and the Chargers game was not just a shift in momentum but one of realization that they can be a very good football team. The Decker gaff notwhithstanding, the WRs are playing better and not dropping balls, Big Vick is standing guys up, pushing them back, playing the run better and snuffing out the screen; Doom is getting his and Miller is just well, Miller. Our secondary, while not elite is getting better and the young guys didn't back off ...Also, in the final minutes of the Bolts' game, JDR didn't take his foot off the gas and our players responded...A New Attitude!