We have a very bitter pill to swallow this morning, Broncos Country. Not only are we one-and-done in the playoffs once again, but the immediate future of the Denver Broncos-Peyton Manning marriage is in serious doubt. The experiment that is Manning-in-Denver may be over three years in, as Manning showed signs of age at the end of the 2014 season (no matter how much some of us didn't want to hear it), struggled with accuracy and mobility in Denver's playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and was noncommital about returning for a 2015 season.
To top it off, Pete Prisco of CBS has a somber read where he writes it "feels like" the end for Peyton Manning, while quoting an anonymous Broncos player.
I talked to some Broncos players who said Manning was throwing more picks in practice in the past six weeks than at any other time. Before the game, some Colts veterans expressed to Broncos players that Manning's arm looked spent.
"You could tell something wasn't right," one Broncos player said of practice the past month. "He just didn't look like 18 out there."
Manning said he needs time to process this loss. I think we all do too. I don't believe over 50% of us truly want to see someone other than Peyton quarterbacking the Broncos in 2015.
I do believe all of us want someone better than the Peyton we watched finish the 2014 season. Maybe that's Manning himself.
Fire John Fox?
John Fox was reportedly coaching for his job Sunday, and he didn't coach well enough to win (or really even be competitive after the 1st quarter). So is he done?
We're watching the news wire closely, but right now it's mostly speculation and rumor. The Denver Post reports there were no discussions about firing Fox heading into this game. However, there is a different storyline brewing: friction between Fox and John Elway causing Fox to walk out the door, or perhaps, a desire by Fox to call it a career.
Plenty of people around the NFL talking about friction b/n John Fox and John Elway. If Fox does depart, would Adam Gase be the new HC there?— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 12, 2015
If Fox leaves or is fired, one possibility for Elway would be his longtime friend, former backup quarterback, and ex-Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Last night, the Baltimore Ravens OC announced he would be staying in Baltimore.
Ravens OC Gary Kubiak turned down HC interviews today and told the team's website he plans to remain with Baltimore.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 12, 2015
Still, some seem to believe Kubiak may pick up the phone if John Elway came calling.
I've said for months I won't be surprised that whenever Fox leaves Broncos if Elway calls his former roomie. Kubiak loves Denver.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 12, 2015
Now that Denver’s season is over, Oakland is expected to try to meet again with Broncos DC Jack Del Rio for a second interview, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 12, 2015
Broncos' loss creates more questions than answers - The Denver Post
The stunning loss leaves the Broncos facing huge questions, both about Manning, and whether he'll return, and possibly head coach John Fox, and whether he'll be asked to return.
Colts 24, Broncos 13: Three Keys, Unlocked
After a fast start, the offense struggled and was unable to sustain drives, dooming the Broncos to a third divisional playoff loss in four seasons.
Paige: Broncos didn't show up again - The Denver Post
Afterward, the Broncos' players and coaches used the words "disappointed," "disappointing" and "disappointment." Disappointed is what you feel at age 5 when you don't get to go to the zoo. This is repulsive, disgusting, disillusionment.
Broncos' search for balance leaves offense wobbly - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A sure sign things aren't going smoothly in the normally button-down world of the Denver Broncos offense, is when harsh words are
Peyton Manning, stars don't shine nearly brightly enough for Broncos - ESPN
The Denver Broncos, loaded with a league-best nine Pro Bowl selections, didn't...
Peyton's Take: 'It's very disappointing'
After Sunday’s game, Peyton Manning said he was disappointed with the 24-13 loss against the Colts that ended the Broncos’ season.
Jim Irsay: Cutting Manning "the right thing to do for the Colts" | ProFootballTalk
"I knew it was the right thing to do for the Colts," Irsay said of releasing Manning, via ESPN.com.
Kiszla: The truth? Peyton Manning is done - The Denver Post
Was it a smart choice by Manning? Football has never seen a more beautiful mind. But throwing short of the stick on the last desperate gasp of a season was also Father Time's not-so-subtle hint to Manning it's time to take a seat on the porch. Anderson gained 7 yards, going down in a heap tantalizingly close to the first-down marker. As the rain fell, Manning pointed one arm toward the end zone, trying to coax the officials into giving an old NFL legend a break.
Hochman: John Fox has run out of chances in Denver - The Denver Post
Heading into this season, the season would be defined by how far the Broncos went in the playoffs. After spending huge in the offseason to upgrade the defense, it would be a success if Denver won the Super Bowl, a failure if it didn't. But this? It was a spectacular failure. I still cannot believe it. Forget the "can the Broncos win at New England?" story line that was all the talk last week. They couldn't even win in Denver, against the Colts, a team they jumped ahead 24-0 in the season opener.
How it Happened: Colts 24, Broncos 13
Follow along for highlights and updates from Sunday's playoff game in Denver.
Broncos' 2014 campaign ends with a thud
There was no reason for the players to mince words while the wounds of Sunday's 24-13 divisional-round defeat were raw.