Happy New Year everybody! New in terms of it being no longer 2018 and also in that the Broncos and their fans are in for a fresh start in almost every possible way.
Vance Joseph is gone and John Elway - after taking the blame for all the recent failures - is preparing for what might be his last chance to build a winning team (again). It’s not likely that #7 is actually on “the hot seat” but in an organization that positively requires playoff appearances and a fanbase that loses it’s collective mind with any lack of success, it seems probable that this will be his last opportunity to bring in the right coach and Quarterback.
Building a successful team in today’s NFL is not an easy task and if you are without a franchise QB and/or coach, it’s a tough road to becoming relevant again. Tough but not necessarily long. Year in and year out the NFL sees teams go from worst to first after selecting the right QB or hiring a winning coach. The overall talent between the number 1 and number 32 team in the league is not usually that far apart and if you have the right scheme, the right signal caller and enough pieces around him, you can build something that will always have at least a chance of success. The Broncos are now at a crossroads where they will have to decide the proper strategy that will lead them to quick and most importantly, long lasting success.
We’ve boiled down all the possible strategies to just three options which John Elway can pursue in the 2019 off-season and beyond:
Strategy #1 - Stay the course
The Bronco’s front office may decide that the team is already headed in the right direction and by just bringing in a new head coach, scheme and a solid 2019 draft, the team can already find success.
If Elway chooses this path it seems most likely that they will bring in John DeFilippo as either the head coach or the offensive coordinator in order to pair him again with Case Keenum. The two put together a very good year in Minnesota in 2017 and the performance earned Keenum a two year deal in Denver and DeFilippo a reputation as one of the top young coordinators in football. That is until 2018 came around and Case Keenum went back to his former ways of “meh” football and his former OC was canned in Minnesota after not finding the same success with his new hot shot QB, Kirk Cousins.
Most likely DeFilippo would come in as the Offensive Coordinator as the Broncos would probably hire one of the coaching candidate retreads like Mike Munchak or Vic Fangio.
Fangio, who has helped build the league’s top defense in Chicago and has 19 years of coordinating experience, would be someone that they could bring in to try and continue to win with a heavily paid defense and a “ground and pound” identity. This is an identity that has seen success in the past and could be a winning recipe, especially if DeFilippo can return Keenum to his 2017 form.
In this scenario we would see something like:
Strategy #2 - Partial rebuild
A partial rebuild is what happens with most NFL teams each year, especially after hiring a new coach. But in this case we mean that it’s more than just the normal swapping of role players and this rebuild would be built around a new QB and a few surprising trades/releases.
If Elway decides to go in this direction - and by some of his recent quotes it seems highly likely - the Broncos will need a new QB, new offensive and possibly defensive schemes and a shakeup of some of the household names on the roster. This could mean getting rid of guys like Derek Wolfe, Darian Stewart and even Chris Harris Jr, whose recent interviews don’t speak highly for his regard of how the team is currently run.
If Keenum is to be released or even traded the Broncos would clearly have to bring in another QB. If it’s not a full rebuild and the front office believes that the team is just a few pieces from competing it seems most likely that they would try to win with a veteran under center. That being the case, the name that without doubt makes the most sense is....Joe Flacco.
Flacco is not beloved by anyone in Denver and has not lately -or maybe ever - been a very good QB but he had a lot of success with and is the perfect fit in a certain offensive scheme run by one of the Elway inner-circle buddies, Gary Kubiak.
Pairing Flacco and Kubiak would make a lot of sense as the the two are very familiar with one another and the veteran Quarterback could immediately come in and run the system. This is not something that can be spoken of enough that learning new systems in the NFL is a total b**** and many players aren’t able to do it. Heck, Paxton Lynch couldn’t learn any system they gave him and likely would struggle with a flag football play sheet.
If the team goes with Kubiak and Flacco, the best fit at Head Coach would without question be John Harbaugh. Except for the fact that his team won the AFC North and the Broncos would surely have to trade a high pick if they wanted to steal him from the Ravens. This is almost definitely not going to happen. So, the Broncos will have to go with their second choice at HC and that would likely be one of the above mentioned retreads and someone who is a “leader of men” who doesn’t screw up on gameday.
From what we have heard in the last few days, this seems to be the most likely scenario. Elway and the fans don’t want a full rebuild, they do want Kubiak back calling plays and thus it just makes sense that Joe Flacco is the next Denver QB.
In this scenario we see would something like:
Strategy #3 - Total Rebuild or “Going Full Chucky”
“Going Full Chucky” is of course in reference to what John Gruden and the Oakland management have done to the Raiders in the last year plus. As the team packs their bags for - nobody knows where and it’s hilarious and awesome - the front office has gone scorched earth on their roster and booted anyone and everyone that was getting paid more than a million bucks a year. That is, except for Derek Carr, who has somehow managed to cling to his position as the most “meh” QB in the league.
If the Broncos choose this route it will mean that they believe the best possible way to put a winning team on the field is by clearing up all the big contracts and starting with fresh talent from the 2019 draft and by spending money on offense rather than defense. At the moment the Broncos are the number 32 team in terms of money spent on the offensive side of the ball and well...it shows. Though there is some young talent, bringing in some legit offensive linemen and a proven tight end would work wonders for this offense which could quickly become a force in the leauge. That is, if they have the right QB and coach.
For John Elway to decide to trade Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr, Emmanuel Sanders and everyone that we fans have come to love over the last 8 plus years, he must certainly have a grand plan for the future. When you blow up a team, it must be with the idea that you have someone in mind that can build it from the ground up with young talent and a fresh and modern scheme. If the team goes this direction there is no way that they bring Gary Kubiak in as OC. Most likely Elway would look to the college ranks or at the very least to a young coach with a “vision” for what a team needs to succeed in today’s NFL. Maybe this is someone like Klif Kingsbury, a highly respected offensive mind who is currently the OC for USC in the college ranks or maybe #7 goes to a Stanford connection and hires Jim Harbaugh who has managed to succeed in both the NFL and the NCAA.
After finding the right coach and stacking the cupboards with draft picks, the brain trust in Denver would have to already be really sure of who they want at the most important position in pro sports. They need someone that is a sure bet, is young enough to grow with a completely rebuilding team and who would be cheap enough to afford while you put your money elsewhere. Elway and company seem to be interested in Missouri Quarterback Drew Lock who has drawn some comparisons to recent disasters like Osweiler and Lynch due to his rocket arm and stature but also due to his lack of accuracy and post snap reads of the defense.
There are several other college QBs that could become options as the draft approaches but we will leave that for future posts to delve into.
In this scenario we would see something like:
OC: Zac Taylor?
QB: Drew Lock
Each scenario offers pros and cons and it will be fascinating to see which direction the front office goes in the coming weeks. In the podcast linked above we give our opinion on what the best option is and also what the most likely outcome will be considering what we have seen and heard so far this off-season.
We would love to hear what you think in the comments and if you don’t like any of the three scenarios, give us the proper course that John Elway and the Denver Broncos should take!
Which route should the Broncos take?
This poll is closed
Stay the course - Keenum, DeFilippo
Partial rebuild - Flacco, Kubiak
Total rebuild - Lock, Kingsbury