Before we welcome a new season of NFL football on March 10th I want to put to bed a mindset that I think hurt the team more than it motivated them last year. I'm talking about 'Super Bowl or bust'.
How many times did Broncos fans hear 'Super Bowl or Bust' last season? It was everywhere. On the lips of the players, the GM, the media, and the fans. It was almost the Denver Broncos' motto, their rallying cry. However, the Denver Broncos did not look like a ‘Super Bowl or bust' team in 2014. And they sure didn't play like one when it counted.
Maybe they should have called last season Super Bowl or why bother.
The Denver Broncos are in a unique situation. Next season they will likely have a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback in the twilight of his career and a crazy talented roster of players built to win a Super Bowl. There is obviously a lot of pressure to win the Super Bowl right now. The problem is, by ‘right now' I mean they really should have won it three years ago. I know it. You know it. Everyone at Dove Valley knows it. And it's not helping anyone's mental game.
The Lombardi trophy is now a monkey on the Denver Broncos' back.
A new coaching staff is a great way to attempt a fresh start, but the Broncos also have to acknowledge their recent past to ensure they don't repeat it. Think of all the amazing things the Denver Broncos accomplished in the past three seasons. As a fan base we have had more to cheer about than a dozen other teams combined. Unfortunately these seasons filled with awesomeness have ended in 1) heartbreak, 2) embarrassment, and 3) jackassery.
Last season when things were going the Broncos' way they were great - even amazing. But when things went bad for these same Broncos. . . well, they went pretty bad. And to make matters worse, they usually stayed pretty bad. Sometimes things stayed bad because players seemed to quit, other times because coaches or players seemed to force plays out of sheer stubbornness. Sometimes when you try too hard or you take your eyes off the game at hand and look too far ahead you end up tripping yourself in the process. You're a bust that just watched the Super Bowl on TV.
I know some fans really do believe it comes down to a Super Bowl victory or a wasted season. There is no in-between. I found myself on this cliff a few times last year, but I don't want to get used to being there. It is very rare to win a Super Bowl and I want to enjoy my team's season no matter what draft pick we end up with. This would be a lot easier if the Broncos were a team I felt was ready to take on anyone, anywhere (yes, even Foxboro). A team playing to win, not a team playing to not lose.
There was a lot of talk about how the Broncos didn't go out "kicking and screaming" after the playoff loss to the Colts. What's great about 'kicking and screaming' is that it embraces the idea of a team being in the moment and not looking ahead to a hoped for Super Bowl victory. There's a toughness to 'kicking and screaming' that suggests your team won't blink when they are down by a touchdown with 30 seconds to go, won't stumble if their star player is injured, and won't fold after a referee makes a bad call.
However I have to admit, I associate 'kicking and screaming' with a team that is in fact losing, so I'm wondering if there is a better rallying cry out there for the Broncos next season. The problem is, I'm apparently not good at coming up with rallying cries beyond stealing one from Friday Night Lights, so I need your help Broncs Country. I'd love to hear what you want the Broncos rallying cry to be in the comments section.
What words describe a team that plays their hearts out every second of every game whether Peyton or Brock is under center? A team ready for any opponent, any venue, and any weather?
Because that's the kind of team that is capable of bringing home a Lombardi trophy next February.