Good morning, Broncos Country!
In the early stages of free agency, John Elway was off to a strong start.
The additions of Kareem Jackson and Ja’Wuan James were both key signings that also filled areas of huge need. As I told Adam Malnati on the latest MHR Radio Podcast (iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher), they were the most recent pieces to the 2019 Denver Broncos puzzle. The first came with the hiring of Vic Fangio and then his staff. The second was the trade for Joe Flacco that was made official on Wednesday. I liked how the pieces were falling into place.
Then that puzzle came into clearer focus with the signing of Bryce Callahan. With it, the excitement amped up tenfold. Not only did Elway fill another area of need, he did so with one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL ... now giving Fangio and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell two of the best in the NFL in that regard. As Adam noted, maybe Elway struggles to find a quarterback, like much of the league, but he excels at finding cornerbacks. Adam supposes Elway spent his entire Hall of Fame career evaluating them from behind the line of scrimmage. That certainly helps.
The Broncos now have one of the best cornerback units in the league with three guys who are extremely versatile (not mention really good). In a Fangio defense, that is one of the traits players need to possess. What ties that together is Fangio uses those guys to their strengths but also what’s best for the defense — and that changes week to week. The other trait is tackling, and both Callahan and Jackson lay wood on guys. We know Chris Harris Jr. does that, now all three cornerbacks have that ability. Add safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks, the No Fly Zone has morphed into the Mile High Hit Squad.
“What do you think this secondary is going to look like?”— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) March 16, 2019
Two other aspects get me incredibly excited for the Broncos — the confidence and fire Flacco exhibited in his introductory news conference, and how Elway and Fangio are simpatico. As others have noted, what stood out to me about Flacco in his news conference, aside from that confidence and fire to be in Denver, is you can tell he’s been the guy. It felt natural. It wasn’t forced. In Case Keenum’s first news conference, it was the complete opposite. Whether that brings success on the field, time will tell. But as Fangio said in the news conference about recently spending time in his hotel room with Flacco, “I was a little worried he wouldn’t be excited to be here, but I had to kick him out of the room about two hours later.”
The second aspect is perhaps the most crucial. To have Elway and Fangio on the same page might seem like such a small thing but it’s vital. That means each know what the goal is and how to make it happen. As I told Adam, the story Fangio told BroncosTV is the foundation for how the Broncos get out of this two-season rut.
“We got guys that we all like,” Fangio said. “I remember when we first watched Kareem Jackson, I walked in and told (Elway) that we really like him. And he said ‘Good. We do too.’ Those are the kind you’re looking for that everybody sees the same way.”
John Elway, Vic Fangio bring in 'guys that we all liked' in first wave of free agency https://t.co/b0DetTDnyN— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) March 14, 2019
Added Elway: “That’s important. We have to work together ... personnel and coaching have to work together because, ultimately, they have to like who they’re coaching and people they have on the field. So it’s important for us to all be a cohesive group. And I think since Vic’s been here, it’s been tremendous.”
You never really know how all of the new pieces will come together. But in terms of the 2019 Broncos puzzle, it’s coming into clearer focus and the excitement is growing. Some six months from now, we’ll see if that remains true. At least for now, it’s damn fun.
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