The Denver Broncos have been applying Band-Aids to their post-Peyton Manning problems for three straight seasons with ever worsening results. After winning 12+ games in each of the four seasons Manning was in Denver, they have put together 18 total wins in those three seasons since his retirement.
The lack of patience from the top down in the organization is an important reason why the wins haven’t materialized since 2016. Instead, new Head Coach Vic Fangio preached patience in an interview he gave Woody Paige of The Colorado Gazette.
“If I say I’m not going to be patient, you and everybody else will think I’m going to make some knee-jerk short-term decisions that won’t have long-term benefits,” Fangio said. “What we’ve got to do, I believe, is let’s go out there and evaluate this team, find out where we need help. Make some good choices for the future, not just for today, if I’m making sense. I’m not looking to go 4-12 or 5-11, thinking that we’re rebuilding. But we must realize that two years from now, three years, that what we did in the 2019 season was why we are at that point.”
Make no mistake, he is bringing the same kind of philosophy that made John Fox a popular choice here in Denver early in his tenure. He preached a strong work ethic in players and bringing in the kind of players in the draft and free agency who fit that mold.
Fangio isn’t a fan of the Band-Aid approach.
He took the shambles the Chicago Bears Band-Aid approach had left him and turned it into the NFL’s most elite defense in 2018.
”Here’s what happened to the Bears before I got there. What they were doing was putting Band-Aids on every little problem, hoping they would be a good team the next year. By the time we got there, they sucked. They were old, no young talent, no nothing. I’ve coached on two expansions teams in Carolina and with the Texans, and our roster on defense when I was hired was worse than those expansion team defenses.
”We can’t let that happen here. We can’t do everything to just get to 8-8 now and be 3-13 in 2021. Does that mean that we won’t get a veteran in free agency that will help us for a year or two? We can do that. But we can’t go and throw a bunch of (stuff) against the wall and hope it sticks.”
Is that kind of mindset that is going to turn things around in Denver. In many ways, Fangio is the perfect complement to John Elway. A win-now approach with a strong eye to where things need to be two and three years down the road.
Before Fangio arrived in Chicago, the Bears defense ranked in the bottom three in scoring and total defense. Within four years, Fangio turned that unit into an elite one that finished first in scoring and third in total defense. We don’t have to wait that long in Denver as the defensive roster Fangio has to work with is in much better shape than the one he dealt with upon arrival in Chicago.
That’s the good news. The uncertainty, instead, will be focused around the offense and first-time Offensive Coordinator Rich Scangarello who will try to rekindle a scoring offense that has been in hibernation in Denver since the 2014 season. If the Broncos can find a quarterback of the future and find a way to generate points with Case Keenum or whoever might be the starting quarterback in 2019, then this team could turn the corner quickly in terms of competitive football.
Either way, the Band-Aid approach to coaching and building a roster is apparently on the outs in Denver. That might be the best news of the year, so far.