Like many of you, I’m looking forward to the start of a new NFL season. The team gets to hit the reset button on what has been a couple of really disappointing seasons.
Scratch that...they have been complete failures in respect to what Broncos Country expects from its team.
I’m not here to bemoan the negative aspects of this, though. I’m more here to talk about some of the big reasons why the Broncos have had so much trouble.
First of all, it isn’t all about the quarterback
Don’t get me wrong: our talent level on the team in the QB room has been plainly pathetic. Also, having talented, capable quarterbacks (read: nothing that we’ve had starting for us for a couple of years) is absolutely the best thing you can do to get more wins on your record than losses in today’s NFL game.
But Denver’s had a bigger, more systemic issue going on recently that dates back to the beginning of the 2015 season.
You have to work the system - especially on offense
The NFL game is the most complex team game in professional sports, bar none. It has been a morphing, evolving, elegant game for decades. There are chess matches between QBs and MLBs. The coverage schemes, audibles, and disguises that have evolved just in the few decades that I’ve been paying attention have been a wonder to behold.
The game has opened up the rules to encourage more and more impact in the passing game with aerial attacks unlike anything we’ve seen before and passing stats climbing higher and higher as the years go by.
On offense, it is terribly important for teams to have an offensive system in place that the whole offensive team understand and can utilize.
Trouble started brewing in 2015
Think about it a moment: remember when Gary Kubiak came in in 2015 and the team was having a rough time in training camp and in the beginning of the season? Why? Manning talked about it a bit in America’s Game: The Story of the 2015 Denver Broncos.
He talked about how the team had to learn a new system and it was going to be a process for the team. Boy, was it ever. The difficulties the team had on offense that season were incredibly frustrating. Thankfully, the team was able to overcome them with one of the greatest defenses to take the NFL field...ever.
It is a credit to Peyton Manning, Gary Kubiak, and the rest of the offense that they were able to string together success at the end of the season and play winning football inside the new system on their way to a championship.
In 2016, the wheels starting falling off
But then 2016 rolls around and you don’t have the GOAT behind center anymore. Yet you still have a system fairly new to the team and some really young faces running it who didn’t have even half the talent that Manning had in his final year.
Add to it that you still think that the defense is elite (it wasn’t), and it led to a season that left Broncos Country scratching its head.
Was the problem then talent? Did the players get the system Kubiak had in place? Were they in a position to succeed on most normal down and distances?
We’ll honestly never be able to truly answer that question since at the end of the season Kubiak retired.
Coaching consistency is a big part of this
So now, it is 2017 and we’re bringing in a really green Vance Joseph to lead the team with Mike McCoy taking over the offense.
But it is another year of hitting the reset button on the offense. It is a new system, and if you believe what some of the players have said, it was way, way too thick to boot.
Denver has been dealing with ups and downs over the course of Elway’s tenure as the GM of the team and a big part of those fluctuations has to be the rapid changing of coaches and systems.
That’s probably the only reason that I was an advocate at all for the idea of keeping Vance Joseph on as our coach. The team NEEDS to have consistency and a chance to get a couple of years rolling in the same system so they can develop an identity and a foundation of play that they can lean on for success.
That’s what keeps you as a year-after-year contender in today’s NFL. Think about it. What teams do you think of that are consistently good year after year? Two come to mind for me: the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
They keep bringing it year after year because their teams from the top to the bottom know what their identity is. They know what kind of players they want to draft. They have a good plan for what they are going to do with any rookie they bring on board. They execute those plans, develop the players, or let them go if they don’t fit.
Stressing patience to Broncos Country
I’ll wrap up on this thought: changing coaching regimes isn’t something you want this team to have to do at the end of the season. If they can get back to 8 wins even, that’s a solid gain and something to build off of.
Just like you want to see your players develop, you also need to see that from your coaches. And let me remind you that as far as coaches go, we have a lot of green at the top. It isn’t just Vance Joseph. It is also Joe Woods. You can even argue that Bill Musgrave has to develop as well if this coaching staff is going to get the Broncos back on the right track.
What do you want to see offensively from the team in the 2018 NFL season? Hit up the comments below and give me your thoughts.