Happy Labor Day to those of you enjoying a day off from work and boo to those of you stuck working on a day reserved to honor the work we do. Oh well, work or play we all love the Denver Broncos today!
We'll kick things off with Woody Paige going full homer for our collective benefit by predicting the Broncos will not just beat the Indianapolis Colts, they'll rout them 42-20. I'll take that for sure and it really isn't all that unlikely given how well Peyton Manning historically performs on opening day having won nine of his last ten opening day games and many by wide margins.
I do not believe that the Colts have been a well run organization at all, even when Manning was the quarterback. They have been amazingly lucky to first have Peyton covering their horrible running of the team to having Andrew Luck now do the same. If it wasn't for those two gifts, this organization would never have lifted itself from the doldrums it languished in for 25 years prior to The Sheriff coming to town, but I've digressed. The Broncos are loaded with potentially the best roster the franchise has ever assembled, so beating Denver in Denver is going to be a task in of itself.
Speaking of this roster, the Broncos have assembled one of the deepest in the NFL, with potential starters all over the second-team. Not only that, John Elway has transformed the team from one that was aging to one that is surprisingly young, with nearly 75% of its roster comprised of players who have been in the NFL for less than five seasons.
Mirroring Elway's own vision of what it means to build a team of Denver Broncos and not just a team of good players, 29 of the final 53 players Elway kept have never known another teams culture. We see the fruits of that labor every time we hear players talk of what it means to be a Denver Broncos and the pride associated with it. There is no man I trust more than Elway to guide this franchise into the future.
John Elway Speaks
Since I just gushed all over how great I think Elway is, he did speak Saturday after finalizing the regular 53-man roster. This is the time of the year that Elway isn't fond of, but a necessary part of the game.
"Today obviously was the toughest part of my job. You get down to 75 guys and have to get down to 53 and especially with all the hard work, it’s hard breaking dreams. You know it’s a difficult thing to say goodbye to the guys that worked so hard. It’s always a tough day," Elway said during his opening statement, "I think we feel good about what we have at this point in time and excited about moving forward.
It's not often that a team cuts starters from the previous season, which is exactly what Elway did when he let the likes of Kevin Vickerson and Duke Ihenacho go, but this happens when you end up with the deeply talented roster.
"We’re in a situation that you want to be in even though it makes it much more difficult because of the fact of you’re having to let a lot of good football players go, but it’s a situation that you want to be in having to make a lot of tough decisions like we had to make," Elway described of the tough decisions he made on Friday and Saturday, "This is by far the deepest team since I’ve been here and the toughest decisions we’ve had since I’ve been here."
The crazy part is, the Broncos still have Peyton Manning and an incredible roster behind him. Anything less than a Lombardi Trophy has got to be a disappointment for 2014. Manning still has the fire according to Elway, "I think it’s always burned bright, so I don’t know that it’s increased. I think that the idea is to continue to try to get a better football team and really get an identity on the defensive side. Him continuing to do what he’s doing on the offensive side, but also us to make our own identity on the defensive side, and want to win, and have that mentality as a defense to be able to win games on the defensive side too, and if we can do that, that’ll make us a better football team there."
In fact, for the first time this season, I sense that maybe this year isn't Manning's last. When asked about older quarterbacks in the league, Elway responded, "They’re going to be playing for a long time, I have a feeling, with where the league is now. They’re still playing at such a high level, so it’s still a rough game and when they do get hit, it still hurts to get hit. But obviously they’re a little more protected than they used to be but that’s okay because they’re that important."
That sure sounds like Peyton Manning may not be a mere 10 months from retirement or it could just be Elway hoping Manning sticks around at least two more regular seasons. Either way, it appears Brock Osweiler finally has the confidence of the front office after three offseasons.
"Yeah, I did," Elway said when asked if he was impressed with Osweiler's growth this preseason, "I think, it’s always hard to get him a lot of playing time but I think he took that next step. Especially against Dallas. I was really impressed with him and the fact that he took a lot of big shots, hung in there, made some really good throws under pressure and so he did make the strides that we were hoping he’d make so I’m excited about his progress."
The last aspect of Elway's transformation of the Denver Broncos comes to the defensive side of the ball. Elway knows what a Denver Broncos defense should look like and he has labored hard to bring that back to Denver. For the first time since he took over football operations, I think we have that Denver Broncos style of defense now. I pretty must loved everything Elway had to say about it too.
"We’ve got more depth," Elway said of the defense, "I do think that there’s a different mentality with some of the guys that we have that are starters. There’s a different mentality on the defensive side and I think they’re going to take it upon themselves, as I said earlier, to create their own identity. But there is a mentality on that side now, with T.J. and Aqib of the toughness that we can play with on the defensive side. We’ve got more speed, especially in the backup positions and that can help us on special teams so I think speed-wise we’re much better on special teams. We’ve got some young guys that came in and competed and overall our team’s speed’s better but again with the guys that we’ve signed this offseason, we’ve talked several times about it, it is a different mentality and confidence level on the defensive side."
Six more days until we find out just how special this team, so it's time to ride Broncos fans! Let's TAKE IT!
- Ben Garland's dreams of being in the NFL have not diminished at all and with his move to the offensive line, he must just be around to stay for a while.
- Champ Bailey isn't ready to hang up the cleats, so I sure hope he catches on somewhere. I find it hard to believe he can't even catch on as a backup somewhere. Father time doesn't sneak up that quickly on future Hall of Famer's.
- Ever wonder how John Elway vacations? Well, I caught this glimpse of his Aspen retreat that sent my jaw dropping to the floor.
- PFF is putting our their team previews and two AFC West teams were analyzes this weekend. The San Diego Chargers are likely the most completely team not named the Denver Broncos in the West, while the Kansas City Chiefs have some serious depth concerns to worry about.
- I asked on Facebook which practice squad addition Broncos fans were most excited about and Kapri Bibbs won the day. What about you MHR, which practice squad guy are you most excited about?