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Broncos at the Bye: Should Elway be on the hot seat?

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At what point does the GM need to be held accountable?

Denver Broncos v Indianapolis Colts
How long is Elway’s leash?
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

With the bye week in the middle of the season, it feels like a good time to catch our collective breaths and assess where things stand, Broncos’ Country. This week we’ve looked at the biggest surprises, disappointments, as well as weigh in on if it’s time to tank.

One thing we haven’t discussed is John Elway’s job status. At 3-6, the Broncos need to go 5-2 or better over the remaining seven games to avoid the first back-to-back-to-back losing seasons since the 1970s. As GM, Elway has taken a lot of heat for some of his bigger gaffes in the national media. So I thought it a good time to ask Mile High Report:

Should Elway be on the hot seat?

Taylor Kothe: Hot seat? No, not really. It’s warm, certainly, but Elway’s in no danger of losing his job this offseason. Not after two quality drafts back-to-back and making what looks like a smart coaching hire in Vic Fangio. Turnover at GM too often leads to turnover at HC, and the organization needs stability now more than change. That, and until and unless a new owner takes the reins, I doubt that there’s any serious organizational will to remove the most legendary member and longtime public face of the Broncos.

Scotty Payne: Yes. Four losing seasons in a row? Multiple failed quarterbacks? His draft history is iffy at best...I mean any other GM with his recent track record would likely be fired or have a scalding hot seat. His popularity and fame in Denver obviously make him immune to such things. Also, the lack of an owner keeps him pretty safe. Doubt Ellis has the stones to make a major move like that.

Adam Malnati: Should Elway be on the hot seat? Probably. Is he? Nope. With no ownership accountability, the seat warmers can’t even be turned on, let alone get hot.

Jeff Essary: If you only look at the result with no context, then yes. However, I’ve been saying all season that we’re in the middle of the rebuild everyone has been yelling for. The key criticisms people have had of Elway, he has gotten better or is getting better at.

Drafting has improved the last two years as we’re restocking with young talent.

The coaching staff he brought in this year look to finally be a group that can bring some longterm stability.We haven’t seen the fruits on the Oline yet due to James being injured, but he brought in the best Oline coach in the NFL, paid big money for the best RT on the market to try and fix a turnstile of a position, and Risner has helped solidify the LG spot. It’s a work in progress, and he’s still paying for his Bolles mistake, but there’s progress on the Oline.

Elway’s had 4 years post Super Bowl and Manning. I break those into two halves. He floundered for two years and made a lot of mistakes trying to find a QB and a LT, Gary Kubiak retired suddenly so the Vance Joseph debacle happened.

To me, the moves in the last two years have been all about trying to fix what happened in 2016 and 2017, and we’re still recovering from that and bad drafting even before that.

So in my mind, it doesn’t make sense to can Elway for attempting to fix the mess that, yes he created. But it really hasn’t been that long a time since the Super Bowl, and if you look at it in those two, 2-year chunks, the 18/19 Elway has been much improved over the previous years, so I’m not sure what people are expecting a new GM to come in and magically fix.

The last piece is obviously QB. Like Scotty mentioned, it’s all about the QB. However, I don’t fault Elway for not finding a franchise QB in four years. Some teams spend 5-10 years or decades searching. It’s the hardest position in all of sports to find. While Flacco and Keenum were failures, aside from throwing $30 million a year on a fully guaranteed contract at Cousins, there hasn’t been much available, and at least Elway has shown the ability to quickly move on from mistakes at the QB position, as opposed to teams who stick with bad draft picks and then even pay them high-dollar second contracts to be mediocre. (See Andy Dalton, Derek Carr, Mitch Trubisky, etc).

At the end of the day, Elway is responsible for the failings of this team and why they’re in their current state, however, if you’re of the opinion (as I am) that this team is trending in the right direction and things are looking up, then you have to give Elway credit for that too and for cleaning up his mess.

Ian St. Clair: As Cecil Lammey told Adam Malnati and me on the state of the franchise podcast, if and when Elway hits on a quarterback, everyone will forget the last three years. Until that happens, some in Broncos Country will continue to sing the “fire Elway” chorus.

Poll

Should Elway be on the hot seat?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Yes, he really blew the Post-Manning window.
    (371 votes)
  • 67%
    No, give him another year. Things may be turning around.
    (767 votes)
1138 votes total Vote Now