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Horse Tracks: Belief wins World Championships

Vance, you had me at Todd Downing.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images


If you haven't read the coaching tree, here it is. Two things are worth a look. First, you can see where Joseph and the incoming coaches fit into this Dynasty and also read about the belief they had.  James Cregg, in an interview after the SB, said that every day it was hammered home that they would win. Belief drove them. They spoke about it daily. That belief was contagious. It buoyed them through last minute wins game after game.

They didn't panic. They didn't doubt. They didn't split. They believed.

It's my belief that the fuel, drive and passion that won them a World Championship, became diluted last season. I'm not going to go into the many reasons why, because this Horse Tracks is about looking forward. I'm going to sell you on Vance from a different direction than stats.

Vance Joseph wasn't the pick by most of Broncos Country, but he was the correct pick. I was one of the ones waving the Kyle Shanahan flag. I was on the fence about Joseph, but when his name was immediately tied to Mike McCoy, my Kyle love grew.

I thought, why in the world would Elway want a guy who will promote Joe Woods, in effect relieving Wade and several of his coaches, from command? Whose only ties to offense was in college twenty years ago? What could he bring to the table that we needed? He doesn't have a brilliant offense mind and we already had a kick ass defense, so why bring in this guy? Kyle is the brain we wanted.

I just thought, oh yuck. How can Vance be a good choice if Mike McCoy is his first choice as the Offensive Coordinator? He just wasn't someone whom I envisioned as being exciting, shiny and new. I wanted a new toy, dammit.

Then I read he actually wanted Todd Downing. Why does that matter? It says that he has an eye for talent. Up and coming talent. It wasn't the first time. He told Gary Kubiak to hire Joe Woods. Downing is who turned Carr into a MVP candidate. He is why we have Bill Musgrave. The Raiders didn't want to lose the guy who got Carr going. So, they promoted Downing.

THere's a tidbit. When Vance played college quarterback at CU, the guy he stepped aside for was none other than Kordell Stewart. Joseph spoke about wanting an aggressive offense with some swagger. That sounds like Kordell Stewart. A QB who not only threw the ball aggressively, but also is ranked 4th highest in rushing TDs. Know who is above him? Cam Newton.

Paxton Lynch has mentioned in a few interviews that Kordell was his favorite QB growing up and today, the guy he likes the most is, Cam Newton. Those two QBs are who he identifies with, sees himself as.

Once again, my first choice may have been incorrect because the two things Mike McCoy and Bill Musgrave bring is experience. Downing was the sexy pick, but for a new HC with a raw QB, two veterans were the correct choice. Two guys who took steps down in their field to come to Denver. That shows they believe, too.

"I wasn't sure he was going to be a coach, because he could have been a CEO, he could have been a governor. I just knew he was going to be successful." Hank Tierney

They believe he's going to bring, faith in winning, back to the locker room. That belief comes from an energetic coach who won't allow a locker room to split. Who has the energy to work tirelessly. Who knows that while defenses win championships, offenses get them there. For that, you need savvy veterans to help navigate the choppy waters ahead.

There is not one single top team that doesn't have a franchise QB in place. The ones who are clawing up the ranks, are developing their young top recruited talent.  Vance has been on enough teams to see this. Struggling ones. Why did Miami turn around? Adam Gase. Gase and his ability to get the most of of their young QB.

New England, Green Bay, Seattle, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Indy,  New York, us. Each of these teams won a World Championship with a franchise QB. The teams that have real shots this year? All have invested heavily in their QB's.

The team that makes the SB with the most balance and health, will win. Laugh at KC, but Alex Smith actually is why they're in the Play Offs. He elevated his game. I watched every one of their games to do my weekly AFCW preview and post reviews. He played better. Combined with their defense, they're a balanced team.

The point is, by Joseph looking at Downing as his first pick, he signaled he knows the above paragraphs. He wanted an up and coming talent to be his OC. Plus, he wasn't afraid to pick someone he hadn't worked with before. This signals an ability to look outside for fresh talent, not keep going back to the same stale well.

By choosing to go a different route though, it also shows while he sees and believes in new talent, he knows when a steady and wise coach is needed. Sees it near and afar. When you can spot talent, it's an exciting thing. It drives one to want to develop it especially if you're full of vitality. This gives off an aura of, I believe.

Football is almost all mental. If you're good enough to make it to the NFL, more times than not, the thing that separates the great from the poor and average is what's in one's heart and soul. For a few, they don't need anyone else to inspire and drive them, they burn from within. For most though, they need that special coach to fuel those flames.

In addition, with his youth, it signals that Vance is a keeper. That Elway is ready for a long term solution. One to build from here on out. He drafted his QB, now he hired the Coaches and next will be building the roster up for the future. On both sides of the ball. Balance, balance and balance. He also didn't want a play calling HC. I agree with that whole heartily and often mentioned it this past season. Hire an OC whose job it is.

Vance Joseph and Elway are signaling that they're building a foundation to last a long time. I don't think that would have been possible with Kyle. I no longer feel that Shanahan would have the same big picture mentality. His brain is so tuned into the offense, that overseeing both sides of the ball, plus play calling, may not have been a fit.

Lastly, I'm sure some will disagree with me signaling only Lynch by saying, well, Vance said QB competition. Who knows how long that is? A week? Until he's traded? What he didn't say was, Trevor is the starter. That says everything. When Vance talked about fitting the scheme to the players and being aggressive and Swaggy, only one fits that description. McCoy can't build the team around two guys who are so opposite. Remember, everything Elway is doing signals he's not building this team for a year, but for several.

'He had the respect of the other kids around him, and everyone has always gravitated to him."

Trevor may have taken a beating and at times looked gutsy by taking it, but he didn't play aggressive with his passing. It's just not who he is. Nor is he built for the NFL. One year and he missed two and half games, needed a walking boot and now had to have surgery. He's not the answer. Elway also relieved every coach who worked directly with him. Plus is bringing in a new scheme and playbook, putting him back to square one.

It wouldn't surprise me if Elway brings in a journeyman back-up whose playing style is more like Lynch's. That way if disaster strikes, at least he has another QB who can step in with a better fit. I could see Joseph calling Trevor in and asking him, how do you feel about going from a Captain to being second or third string? Holding the clipboard? If he says, that's peachy, I always figured it was heading that way, I'm just grateful I had that year, then maybe he stays. If not, then I'd ask if he'd like a trade for a fresh start elsewhere.

Finally, I'm sad Wade Phillips is gone, but as soon as I saw a couple weeks ago that Joe Woods was being eyed by other teams as a DC, the writing was on the wall. Just like Tampa Bay fired Lovie Smith so that Jameis and Dirk Koetter could stay together, so does keeping Joe for the No Fly Zone, make sense. They are the best unit in the NFL. All the QB talk aside, once you get to the play offs, you better have a stout balanced defense.

Joseph also kept long time veterans Reggie Herring and Bill Koller, while eyeing other younger positions coaches, too. Balance. Young and eager with wisdom and experience. It's how to build a roster and a coaching staff. He's doing it right.

Change is hard for most people. We cling to it with a death grip, but Denver needed these changes. If not for a couple kicks, we could've had a losing season. Elway believes in these changes. Vance believes in these changes. Count me in, too.

He believed in us. Our guys are going to buy into his program. They are going to believe in him and he’s going to get those guys rolling. He’s the perfect guy for a head coaching job. Our Head Coaching job. It could take a year to get things to a championship caliber level, but it'll be worth the wait. Trust in this.

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