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In defense of John Elway

Getting rid of Elway is absurd. Let the man work.

Regardless of how the Broncos retention of Vance Joseph makes you feel, there is no getting around the fact he’ll be roaming the sidelines in 2018. Despite the half-dozen assistant coach scalps claimed in the name of progress, voices of frustration have emerged expressing disappointment with how John Elway handled the conclusion of the 2017 season.

There’s plenty of blame to go around with regard to recent draft struggles and questionable free agent signings. Some have said Elway has lost his grasp on the team, that he’s now in over his head, that without Peyton Manning, Elway hasn’t achieved anything.

Get the hell out of here with that crap.

If you’re not willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the guy who assembled Broncos squads that won two AFC Championships, won a Super Bowl, and showcased the most explosive offense the NFL has ever seen (2013), you need re-evaluate your expectations. Let’s not even get into his accomplishments as a player.

What’s interesting is that Ozzie Newsome, a hall of fame player for the Browns in his own right and the current General Manager of the Baltimore Ravens, has achieved less than John Elway and continues to serve as the final say for personnel decisions. Newsome worked in the front office during the Ravens Super Bowl XXXV run in 2000, but wasn’t promoted to General Manager until November of 2002. Since then, they have only won an NFL Championship one time, Super Bowl XLVII, when they beat the San Francisco 49ers.

We can do a season-by-season breakdown of Elway and Newsome and there’s merit to that. However, I’d like to point to perception. The Ravens have, since their ‘inception’ been a respected franchise that has enjoyed potential for success in each year they’ve played under Newsome’s stewardship. They’ve had ups and downs, but Ozzie has been largely immune from the knee-jerk reactions of Baltimore fans.

Theirs is a franchise that doesn’t have year-to-year turnover of head coaches. They have a direction. In a time of tumult at quarterback, offensive line, special teams, and other positions, I posit that the move to retain Vance Joseph was the correct call for where the Broncos are as a franchise right now. It’s a stretch to say that stability breeds success, however it’s fallacy to not recognize that instability always leads to failure.

...but because he’s John Elway the expectations should be higher. I disagree. Because he’s John Elway, we need to be more patient. Nobody understands winning like John Elway, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll do everything possible to right the wrongs of the 2016-2017 seasons.

The last couple years have been exercises of a franchise screaming for the steady hand of stability. I will boldly proclaim that scalps and the instant gratification of deactivating keycards don’t lead to long-term success that we, as Broncos fans, so desperately desire. Let’s let Elway do his thing for this year and beyond. One losing season does not a terrible General Manager make. Two seasons without the playoffs is less than ideal, but we have seen how great it can be. Let’s give John a chance to build something before we start clammoring to pull the plug.

Something to think about.


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