So much for the Super Bowl 50 win.
Gary Kubiak and the Denver Broncos are on to 2016. Hopefully they got time to savor the win over the last two and a half weeks. But you can bet Kubiak has spent some (most) of that time prepping for the NFL Combine and free agency on March 9.
The work of a NFL coach never stops.
With the start of the combine on Wednesday in Indianapolis, Kubiak spoke with the media for the first time since the season-ending news conference before the Super Bowl parade.
Let's clear this out of the way: Kubiak toed the company line on both Brock Osweiler and Peyton Manning.
On Osweiler: "I think he has a bright future. Obviously we think the world of him. We want him to be a part of our football team. He's been real special with the job he's done this year. I think he's grown a great deal."
On Manning: "Once again, it's about him taking his time to work through things and think through things. There is no hurry here. I want him to enjoy what just took place. We'll go from there."
Broncos keep saying they want PFM to take his time. Privately they're like, "Let's goooo. Hurry up already!" #troof— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) February 24, 2016
In terms of Manning, there is a hurry. John Elway and the Broncos can't/won't have Manning's cap number on the books. So if he hasn't made a decision by March 8, Denver will have to release him.
The real news out of Kubiak's news conference was twofold: his thoughts on the Broncos offensive line and running backs.
There has been rampant speculation Denver has to address the line through free agency and/or the NFL Draft. That doesn't sound different than the last two offseasons. But is this year different?
Since the Broncos have used their first-round pick on defense since Elway became executive vice president, it would buck the trend.
"We went through a great deal - a lot of tough times this year," he said. "You guys know that. Worked on tackles four and five through most of the year. I think with the situation we went through, we had to move some guys around. Evan (Mathis) and (Louis) Lou (Vasquez) were beat up a great deal of time.
"I would think of it this way. First of all, I think we're young, and so I like our future from that standpoint. At the same time, we feel like we definitely have to improve. Does that make it a high priority? I don't know. We're going prepare for this draft at every position just like we do each and every year. Obviously, it's a position that we feel like we need to improve upon offensively."
Kubiak: Sambrailo is expected to be ready when OTAs begin.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) February 24, 2016
The other option to help the offensive line get better is free agency, if Elway decides to go that route. A lot will depend on what happens with Osweiler and Malik Jackson, plus the restructures and releases.
At the very least, fans know the Broncos know they need to improve the group. How they go about that will play out over the next two weeks.
Tied with the offensive line is the running back position.
Some have said Elway will look to get one of the free agent backs or draft one. With Ronnie Hillman a free agent, it would be a surprise if he returns.
"I've got to get all of my ducks in a row here," Kubiak said. "Both those guys (Hillman & C.J. Anderson) did a really good job for us. Juwan (Thompson) had some injuries for us. I think he's got a bright future. We've got a young man on our practice squad, Kapri Bibbs, who I think fits what we want to do.
"We've got four good young players, and hopefully Ronnie is still part of that. We'll go from there. I thought we got better as the season went along. Keeping C.J. healthy I think is the key moving forward."
Obviously, Kubiak likes the depth he has at the position. No doubt when Hillman doesn't return they will need someone to take his place.
But the most telling part of that quote was at the end. The way to keep Anderson healthy is improved play from the offensive line.
That most important part of the offseason for the Broncos. The defense won't change that much, even if Jackson and Danny Trevathan don't return. The key pieces are still there.
But if the offensive line play gets better for Denver, there isn't so much pressure on the defense to do it all. Namely that would allow the offense to run the football and eat yards and time off the clock. As well improve in the red zone.
The stuff with Osweiler and Manning will play out.
For the Broncos to have a similar finish to the one it got two and a half weeks ago, an improved offensive line will increase the likelihood that happens.