Happy New Year, Broncos Country!
It is officially 2020 and we’re ringing in the new decade with some optimism out of Dove Valley.
On Monday, the Denver Broncos held their end of the season press conference and one of the questions that stood out for me was one directed at President of Football Operations/GM John Elway about Head Coach Vic Fangio’s first year as head coach.
The tl;dr version is basically that Elway felt Fangio managed the locker room well and his attention to detail helped carry the team through a tough early part of the season to a strong finish. They both seem to be on the same page and focused on continuing the build towards contention in 2020 and beyond.
Elway went on for quite a while, so I’ve formatted his comments in a bit below to help with ease of reading.
“I think the one thing that we talked about last year when we hired Vic was the fact of his attention to detail. You know what, we took care of the little things. You look at what we did penalty-wise and the discipline that the team played with, I think all those things made drastic turn-arounds from where we’d been. I think that was a start, but that’s what Vic impressed with, his attention to detail.
“One of the great things he did, it’s hard to make the transition from the box to the sideline and be able to call a defense and be the playcaller from the box compared to the sideline. I think that was seamless. He did that tremendously. He was able to not lose anything of what he did as a defensive coordinator and continue to do what he did on the defensive side, but also be a tremendous head coach. The players believe in him.
“Again, when we talked about last year and talked to Vic before he was here, those are the things that stood out to me. That’s kind of what we needed. All those things came to fruition and where we are and the discipline that we play with. That’s only going to get better. He’s got one year under his belt. That’s going to continue to get better. On the base of what he’s put on our football team, they understand what those points are. That’s only going to continue to get better.”
One of the ways they can get better is by making all of the right moves in the offseason to make the football team a better one in 2020.
There seems to be an aura of collaboration going on between the front office and the coaching staff. Elway changed how they review last season and plan the offseason, by giving the coaches a chance to go through the process - giving them more time to do so.
That should give Elway all of the information he needs to attack the offseason with the best foot forward. The change was a recommendation from Fangio that Elway is rolling with.
When asked about whether or not this is his most important offseason during his tenure as general manager, Elway kind of rambled. In summation, every offseason is important, but getting back to a point where they can compete with the Kansas City Chiefs is priority number one. If they can’t compete for the AFC West, then the Broncos aren’t back to where they need to be.
Here are his full comments on this question with some formatting to help with ease of reading again.
“I guess when you’re losing, you kind of think that every offseason is the most important. I think that obviously with what we have going for us this year with not making any head coaching changes and the fact that we’ve got some continuity there and the players know that—on the personnel side, we’re much more comfortable with Vic and his staff knowing—again, we get back to what everyone’s kind of looking for, what fits in what we do and what doesn’t fit. But I think that we’re at the point where the good feeling is we’ve bounced off the bottom.
“When you’re losing, the whole thing is getting that locker room turned around. That’s the most important thing, and where they feel like they have a chance to be successful. It’s not, ‘Here we go again.’ We’ve talked about, ‘Here we go again,’ so many different times, especially over the last couple years, because there was that feeling. I think that we’ve finally gotten rid of that feeling and that locker room feels like they’ve got a chance to be successful. They believe in the coaching staff, they feel like the young guys that we have and the excitement that Drew has brought, that locker room is excited again.
“I think that’s what gives you hope, and they have hope that they’re going to be able to be successful. I think that’s what going into this offseason, I’m excited about, because of what we can do. Now, we’re not digging to change that locker room. We can now add to that locker room, and add the right kind of people, the right kind of players that again, when we start in the offseason program, that there’s that feeling that we can compete.
“Getting back to the same thing, our goal has never changed. Our goal is still to win a world championship. That’s still our sight. We talk about not making the playoffs, but our goal is still to win a world championship. The first goal is to win the [AFC] West. Now we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to get through Kansas City to do that. They will be the defending champs. That’s what’s exciting about it. The base that we have, the young talent that we have, the picks that we have and the staff that we have, things are trending up.
“Now, that’s not to say they’re going to continue to go that way. We have a lot of work to do. We have to get better in a lot of spots, but I think that the good-feel about where we sit now is the fact that that locker room feels like they have a chance to win. That was goal No. 1, get that thing turned around, and I think that’s a good thing with Drew as well as what Vic has done and their belief in Vic as well as his coaching staff.”
That’s a lot of information to digest, but it all felt genuine. Elway and the Broncos finally have a chance to turn things around in the post-Peyton Manning era. They just have to capitalized on this opportunity by getting the right players and the right people in that locker room to help launch them into a new era of competitive Broncos football.
So yes, this might just be Elway’s most important offseason in his ten years as general manager.