The announcement hit us all in the heart.
It was the moment everyone associated with the Denver Broncos dreaded. But when it came at the start of training camp in July 2014, we knew it was the end of an era. That was when Pat Bowlen surrendered control of the team as he battled Alzheimer’s disease.
The Broncos would go on to win Super Bowl 50, and John Elway was able to repay the legendary owner with those four magical words: “This one’s for Pat.” But since that moment, never has the absence of Mr. B been more apparent and painful.
The last two seasons have been a textbook in ineptitude — on every level.
The coaches can’t coach, the front office has more misses than hits, and the franchise still can’t get a name on its stadium. And now, many fans have given up … in Week Six. As I told Adam Malnati on the latest MHR Radio Podcast, the more than 9,000 no-shows on Sunday indicate we just need to call it “No-Show Stadium.”
Is there a bigger indictment of the Vance Joseph error than over 9,000 no-shows for the #Broncos game vs the #LARams? #BroncosCountry spoke loud and clear as Denver lost again. @AdamMalnati16 and I break down the game on the @MileHighReport Radio Podcast. https://t.co/YgM5bXugHo— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) October 15, 2018
Our natural instinct is to point the blame at someone.
- Vance Joseph
- The rest of the coaching staff
- The players
- John Elway
- Joe Ellis
When a once proud franchise falls this far, all are to blame. There is more than enough to go around.
But this problem runs much deeper and isn’t easily fixed.
There’s no Mr. B.
There’s no owner to hold the decision-makers accountable. Yes, Joseph will eventually get fired, as will his inept staff.
The franchise will move on from the older veterans with larger salary cap hits and continue to push the “we’re a few moves away” bullshit. But what about the people at the top of the pecking order who triggered this derailment?
Does anyone believe Ellis will even contemplate moving on from Elway?
Does anyone honestly think Ellis will correct his own deficiencies?
That’s the problem.
Bowlen isn’t there to walk the halls of the facility to keep everyone in check. There is no owner to provide leadership or to hold every single employee accountable — regardless of title or name.
Here’s the question that must be asked: How much longer can this go on?
I get that the Bowlens want to keep the franchise in the family. They want to pass on a legacy and keep the tradition alive, similar to the Rooneys with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But at this point, the franchise cannot wait for one of the two Bowlen children to take over. The lack of leadership is inflicting damage on a weekly and seasonal basis, leaving a series of unwanted records in its wake. Last season’s team experienced its longest losing streak in 50 years, and the Broncos are now on pace to have back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in 45.
The fans are losing interest and hope. No longer will fans give the franchise the benefit of the doubt, and when you lose Broncos Country, there is no greater indictment on the state of your franchise.
The cheesy slogans are wearing thin.
“No Plan B.”
“Trust in Elway.”
“This isn’t a rebuild, it’s a reload.”
Then there’s the losing, but also how the team is losing. In embarrassing fashion, over and over again. Just like last season, the amount of games Denver has a realistic shot at winning is running as thin as the oxygen here.
That is unacceptable.
The standards were once higher for this organization. And they still should be. Maintaining a winning tradition demands more than cheap publicity stunts that fool fans into shoveling money at a shitty product.
Where is the accountability for every single person in the organization? For those who forget, here’s a reminder of what the standard once was for this franchise: If you don’t win or compete for Super Bowls, you are out of a job. And that’s not just a talking point to reference how great of an owner Mr. B was.
Until the Broncos get leadership at the top and fill in the hole left by Mr. B’s absence, it’s hard to see how any of this changes.