What a whirlwind. The past ten days have been like no roller coaster I have ridden at Cedar Point, a local amusement park known for it's coasters. We've dealt with ups and downs, twists and turns, and media members battling to scoop each other on a story we knew only one man - Chris Mortensen - was ever going to have the exclusive on. Peyton Manning has chosen the Denver Broncos.
On March 8, I asked several MHR contributors as well as Broncos Bloggers Kyle Montgomery(BroncoTalk) and Kim Constantinesco(Predominantly Orange) what they thought about the Broncos pursuit of Manning. Now that Manning has seemingly decided, I asked the same people what they thought one more time.
If you have orange running through your veins, you probably consider today one of the greatest days in Denver Broncos history. Peyton Manning signing with the Broncos makes them immediate Super Bowl contenders even despite the fact that they have the second toughest strength of schedule in 2012. Free agents will flock to Denver like bees to honey while current Broncos (young and old) will want to play their hearts out with one goal in mind. Brian Dawkins? He'll probably come back now. Dallas Clark? I could easily see him signing with the team. While one door is shutting, another one opens with the acquisition of Manning. He gives the Broncos the most immediate chance to win.Tim Tebow lit the fire in Broncos Country again last season, but he will likely be suiting up in different colors come September. It's not a knock on him, it's more a matter of the Broncos doing everything they can to win now. It's the Elway way.
I stated before that the Broncos should definitely pursue Manning, and I was ecstatic when they started that pursuit. I'm even more ecstatic, now that the process is virtually complete, for two reasons: 1. The Broncos got him, and 2. They did it right. They were aggressive, but they did their due diligence and let Manning do his. They watched him work out, and they gave Manning the space he needed. They will be protected in case of problems related to Manning's neck injury. It's a huge coup for John Elway and Pat Bowlen and a testament to this franchise.
John Elway is risking everything with this move. I'm not talking the Peyton Manning signing, I'm talking dumping Tim Tebow. A good friend of mine summed it up best, "Anyone can look good in shorts". Meaning Peyton Manning hasn't taken a meaningful snap in about fourteen months, yet Elway is willing to go all in with Manning and deal Tebow before Manning even takes a single snap in a Broncos uniform. Sure he was cleared to play, but wouldn't you at least keep some insurance just in case? Elway must really want to be done with Tebow. Oh well, I wish him the best and will quietly root for his success against everyone except the Broncos. My biggest fear now is that we'll see a 28 year old quarterback drafted in the first round in April. My biggest positive is that I do feel the Broncos are a better team NOW, but I have zero faith in our teams long term strategy. Elway better be right.
I am excited about Peyton Manning coming to the Broncos. It brings Denver back to a legitimate Football town instead of the circus that has existed for two years. Every new coaching staff or regime will bring their own players in and EFX is no different. Those of you who have read my Training Camp reports know how unimpressed I was with throwing Tim Tebow in prematurely. I thought the Broncos never should have drafted him to begin with and giving up 4 draft picks for a one dimensional player at the most important position on a football team was insanity at best. Josh McDaniel's proved his inept talent evaluating skills with other brilliant draft moves like Richard Quinn, Darcel McBath, Seth Olsen, Alphonso Smith and Perrish Cox. No doubt it will be another year before the mess that Josh left is purged from the roster, but this move clears the way for EFX to build the Broncos Franchise the way they envisioned.
There is a lot to love about this move for me, not the least of which is optimistic hope of a return to some semblance of football normalcy. Six years of QB controversy is a lot for any fanbase to endure, but the compounding effect of Tebowmania sent it into a frenzy, and now, it appears that this team will truly be starting over at the QB spot. I'm also impressed by the method about which the Broncos went about carrying out this deal. They appear to have done their homework, and in a free agent chase that saw Bud Adams go full-creep on Manning, the Broncos appeared to be all class, showing off their home, their people and their facilities, a very matter-of-fact approach coupled with patience and understanding for the magnitude of the decision Peyton had to make, that I think ultimately was what sold Manning on Denver. Be thankful Broncos fans, for stability at the QB position is the first ingredient of long term franchise success. Even at his best last year, Tebow was an unpredictable and unstable element around which to build a team. The Broncos are committed to the draft as the foundation, but until now, they didn't have a blueprint for where to go from there. Now they do.
It's about time. After a week and a half of waiting for the Manning Saga to end, we finally sealed the deal. I found it interesting that San Francisco jumped in at the last second, but to no avail. I thought for sure that they were the better equipped team to make a Super Bowl push, but I'm glad Manning picked Denver. I'm sure the talk of the town will be Tim Tebow, but if you get a chance to win now with a future Hall of Famer, you do it. Sorry Tim, I hope you stick around... just realize it's a business. The only negative thing I have on Manning is that he made his decision a week and a half later than he should have. Our free agency starts today, with most of the top end free agents gone to other teams already. With that said, however, Manning's addition makes Denver a hot spot for remaining players. We should have our pick of the litter, now. I can't wait to see what happens next!
I have to admit being somewhat ambivalent about this -- too many seasons being mad at Manning for what he has done to Denver mixed in with excitement over landing one of the most brilliant football minds of the last decade. Overall, I'd say I'm in agreement with the move -- an 80% healthy Manning represents an improvement over Tebow, where Tebow is at this point in time.
The sadness for me is that a very vocal minority of Tim's fans have created, over the last two years, a situation which precludes the Broncos being able to keep Tim & let him learn the mental side of the game from Manning. That was my hope, that we'd see a Tebow with the athletic ability of a young John Elway combined with the sharp mental abilities of Peyton Manning. Alas, that vocal minority has not given the Broncos the luxury of taking time to develop Tebow.
So at this point in time, I believe it's time to rally behind Manning and watch for the Broncos to add additional pieces to bring the Broncos back to the Super Bowl.
To be honest, I think that this is a home run signing for John Elway. To the rest of the football world, meaning non-Broncos fans, Tim Tebow is just a guy. We've grown to know and some of us have grown to love what Tebow brings to the table, and that is fantastic. I will still root for Tebow wherever he winds up. That being said, Elway is/was clearly not happy with Tebow's progression and development, and was set to make a change as it was. The fact that Peyton Manning hit the market is almost irrelevant to the fact that Tebow is leaving, because I don't think Elway wanted him anyway, though I tried for a year to convince myself otherwise.
The Broncos are losing a guy that I think will be great, but they are gaining a player that no one a year ago would have imagined would be available. Certainly there are health risks, but that is true for any NFL player, young or old. What Manning brings to the table is extremely rare, and the Broncos signed probably the biggest free agent of all time in the NFL. I don't think that fans should be disappointed in acquiring Manning, but I understand the disappointment in losing Tebow because I am in that camp as well. However, I fully endorse this signing, I think it's a move that needed to be made when Manning expressed interest in Denver.
Listen. I love Tim Tebow. I cheered for every win and was sad after every loss. But the job of management is to upgrade a position when it is available at the right value. That is what happened. We had a chance to have a clear upgrade and we made it happen. To me, this shows me that our management is one of the best. Manning had reasons he could of went to other teams but we have the right salesman. Everyone on the Broncos will be better from this. If you thought our defense was scary before, just wait until you see how they benefit from this. Whether you love Tebow or not, you have to admit that three and outs were a problem and because of that, defense got wore out. We are in for a fun run here Broncos fans and I cannot wait.
Thanks to everyone that participated in the Roundtable. I'll have my myriad of thoughts in the coming days. GO BRONCOS!