With the Denver Broncos finally reaching the bye week, there are several ways that we can examine the state of the franchise. I had started putting together a piece about John Elway, and the hiring of Vic Fangio. Then something changed. It wasn’t the win over the Cleveland Browns. It was something that Ian and I were told on the MHR Radio Podcast (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify).
We were lucky enough to be joined by Cecil Lammey of 104.3 The Fan. He was great on the show. He had incredible insight, and he brought up some points that kind of made me change my tune.
What is the state of the #Broncos? @AdamMalnati16 & I had a fun discussion with @CecilLammey. Great insight for #BroncosCountry on where the team sits & what needs to happen in the final seven weeks of the season. #NFL100@ApplePodcasts: https://t.co/Xl9iJtNjVn— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) November 6, 2019
I don’t generally like to feel like a windsock, being pushed around by the strongest breeze, but I can reevaluate my position on things when presented with better information.
For a little context, I am a fan of Vic Fangio and this coaching staff, but I was finding myself more and more in the camp of calling this hire a mistake. I think all the way back to the end of the Mike Shanahan era. What was the problem with that team? Defense. Did they hire a defensive coach? Nope. We got Josh McDaniels, an offensive coach who wanted to completely change the offensive scheme. I don’t remember the defense improving at all.
How about moving on from Gary Kubiak? The defense wasn’t the problem, but rather than hire Kyle Shanahan to fix the offense, Elway hired Vance Joseph, AND got rid of Wade Phillips. The offense continued to flounder, and VJ proved to be not great as a HC.
So, firing Joseph should have resulted in hiring an offensive minded HC, but it didn’t, and my skepticism was growing. Heading into the Browns game I was ready to throw Elway under the bus for mismanaging the coaching hires. The win made me feel better, but didn’t change my mind.
Then Cecil said something that made me stop and think. He talked about the attitude around this team. He mentioned buy-in from players. “After one year of Vic Fangio, I want to see more.” It was clear that Vance Joseph was the wrong hire, but Fangio keeps showing that he has the potential to be a good head coach in this NFL.
I want to see more, too. He also talked about where the truth of the Broncos is, “is the truth within the record or is the truth within the roster? I’m always going to lean towards the roster and what is there to build on.” He brought up all the young players that can be built around. Courtland Sutton, Phillip Lindsay, Dalton Risner on offense. Justin Simmons, Alexander Johnson, Davontae Harris on defense. And don’t forget the veterans like Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr. and Derek Wolfe.
It is easy to criticize Elway for the downfall of this franchise. It is easy to complain about all the misses in the draft, and free agency. It is easy to call for Elway to be fired. But after seeing some real improvements, after examining the roster, and with the understanding that the Broncos are really just one hit away at QB, there I am actually feeling pretty good about this team.
I guess we will see which way the wind blows after the bye.