Tag:John Elway
Posted on: April 21, 2011 12:59 pm

Offseason checkup: Denver Broncos

Posted by Will Brinson

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Remember when the Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls? Yeah, that was a long time ago. But the Broncos were relevant as recently as 2005, which is the last time they won the AFC West. Since then? Well, um, er, you see. Yeaaaaaaah, about that: one winning record (9-7 in 2006) produced a third-place finish in the division, while one losing record (7-9 in 2007) produced a second place finish. Two-straight .500 seasons followed after that and then -- BAM! -- the bottom fell out in 2010, as the Josh McDaniels train derailed en route to a 4-12 finish and his firing.

Enter John Elway, John Fox and the new, "new look" Broncos who appear to be all about transparency. They also appear about to undertake a pretty massive rebuilding project. Fortunately, Fox that's he polar opposite of Josh McDaniels -- methodical, defensive-minded, doesn't care for too much personnel control, likes to run the ball and unlikely to tape anyone else's practice.

The question for Fox is whether or not the system he wants to implement will work with the roster that McDaniels built. The immediate answer is "hell no," but it's not as far off as you think; Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd could be a poor man's Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith (a reasonable comparison, although I feel like it might insult someone, I'm just not sure who), who didn't exactly suffer through miserable seasons, statistically-speaking, their whole time in Carolina.

The defense, rather, is the bigger problem for Fox to address, because it acted like a sieve last season, and even with Elvis Dumervil returning, there's no guarantee that it will instantly become better. 

Defense, Quarterback??

The defensive line in Denver is a disaster, particularly at defensive tackle. That's why the Broncos are mentioning so many different possibilities at the No. 2 pick -- if the Panthers end up taking Marcell Dareus first overall, Denver's suddenly in a nightmare situation where they need to trade out of the second spot and try and recoup some value a few picks later. Fortunately for them, a pair of teams -- Cincinnati and Arizona -- could be interested in playing some hopscotch to try and acquire Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton should the draft unfold in such a manner.

What's even left to say about Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow? Well, actually a lot, I guess -- the two quarterbacks on the Broncos' roster are polar opposites (can you imagine Orton running a draw and/or circumcising babies in a third-world country during spring break?) but they're in similar situations, because no one can figure out whether or not the Broncos actually want  them.  

Could John Fox actually love Orton? Considering he saw -- first-hand -- how Orton can "manage" a game into right into the L-column when the Bears visited Charlotte a few years back, it's hard to believe. But surely he doesn't think the same of Tebow as Josh McDaniels did, right? Well, probably not, but there's always a chance, especially considering that Fox and Tebow got friendly during the draft ... right before Carolina took Jimmy Clausen.

1. Defensive Tackle
If the Panthers draft anyone other than Marcell Dareus with the first overall pick, it's hard to imagine the Broncos taking too much time to wait on selecting the Alabama product with the No. 2 overall pick. They'll definitely still listen to trades, because, well, who wouldn't, but Dareus is a pretty perfect fit with not only what Fox wants to do on defense, but how he wants to do it.

2. Cornerback
Patrick Peterson's there too, and could be a candidate for the No. 2 spot if Carolina goes Dareus and no one will trade up, although you have to think Denver would rather add a DB in the second round, or potentially trade back up to try and snatch a guy like Jimmy Smith if he falls. Of course, the depth at defensive line in this draft could have John Elway thinking he nabs Peterson to mentor under Champ Bailey during the legendary cornerback's home stretch, and then snag a defensive tackle with a later selection.

3. More Draft Picks
That's only a half joke -- Denver's got piles of holes to fill; they need another running back to pair with Knowshon Moreno in Fox's system, they might need a quarterback, they could use a defensive end, they need help at linebacker (making Von Miller a sneaky potential selection at No. 2 as well), they need more secondary help and they also need help across the offensive line. Moving down in the draft and accumulating potentially talented bodies to plug these holes is Elway's ideal scenario.

2011 could be another long season for Broncos' fans. It looks like the division should  improve, though in the AFC West, no one's scared to keep falling back to the pack throughout the season. But it's hard to imagine that Denver will be as successful on offense, numerically speaking, as they were in 2010, and unless the defense improves leaps and bounds, four wins might be a stretch ... again.

But there's hope, at least: Elway's immediate legacy will be somewhat determined by how he drafts this coming year, and it's going to take time to heal the wounds of the McDaniels era. Fortunately for Denver, they've got a coach who's turned around a moribund franchise before, and a front-office guy who knows a thing or two about the city and success. 

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Posted on: April 21, 2011 2:15 am

Elway praises Newton by way of Nick Saban

Posted by Will Brinson

It's become kind of a de facto assumption that the Panthers will take Cam Newton with the first overall pick -- in fact, both of our latest mock drafts have that happening -- but there's always a chance he could be sitting there at No. 2 when the Broncos are on the clock.

Denver would then have a very interesting choice: trade the second pick or draft Newton. They could do neither, of course, but it stands to reason there's a team interested in trading up for Newton's services. And it sure seems, based on what John Elway said at a pre-draft Broncos press conference Wednesday, that they'd at least be interested in taking a look at the Auburn product.

"One of the interesting things is we went down and saw Nick Saban when we were down at Alabama's Pro Day, and we're talking about obviously all his players and then we asked him about Cam, and he said that team would not have won four games if it wasn't for Cam Newton," Elway said in a press conference Wednesday. "That tells you how much of a special player he is."

That's strong praise indeed ... or just a pot shot at a rival. But probably strong praise.

Even if they did want Newton on board, don't expect the Broncos to tip their hand about it, just like they'll continue to keep guarded any calls they've had re: trades.

"Most of those calls with likely occur the day of the draft," GM Brian Xanders said. "It starts at 6 p.m., Mountain Time, so those hours preceding we could get calls or we might not get any calls."

Yup, that's the ambiguity of the next week or so -- no one's talked to anyone else and every team loves every prospect on the board.

Hell, for all we know, the Newton love-fest coming out of Denver's press conference was an elaborate smokescreen to keep the Panthers away from Alabama's Marcel Dareus.

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Posted on: April 3, 2011 9:57 pm

What if Tebow doesn't start?


Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla writes an interesting column today and poses an interesting question: if he wanted to, could the Broncos all-time superhero John Elway resist the fans’ obsession and love of Tim Tebow and give somebody else the starting quarterback job?

In effect, if Elway and coach John Fox believes Tebow isn’t the right quarterback to lead the team and starts somebody else, would they face a fan revolt?

NFL Labor
Although Fox said last month that Kyle Orton is his starting quarterback now, that doesn’t mean Orton will be the starter once the 2011 season begins (hell, who knows if Orton will even be on the team next year).

Kiszla gives some background for those of us who don’t live in Denver and are not caught up in the Tebow-mania:

Whatever Tebow is selling, Broncomaniacs want two for themselves, three for their kids and a spare in the garage.

Shop the team's official website for a predominantly orange jersey, and it's the No. 15 of Tebow rather than the No. 24 of cornerback Champ Bailey and his 10 Pro Bowl appearances that the Broncos display in the front window. The never-before-told story of Tebow's life will soon be available in bookstores everywhere, because he couldn't wait until his 24th birthday to release a memoir. While the league will shut down for business after the draft to hammer out labor peace, the Tebow money machine never sleeps.

Would it be sacrilege to ask: Isn't this a little bit too much fuss for a quarterback with one NFL victory on his resume?

Tebow is so earnest he's easy to tease. But he's also impossible not to like. Florida did not adequately prepare him for the pros. His 11 touchdowns as an NFL rookie, however, were ample reason to believe he is a project worth developing.

Kiszla also writes Elway is “straining awfully hard not to get bullied” by those who want all-Tebow all the time. I guess the real question is this: what if Tebow is chosen to start – and the perception is that the fans forced Elway’s hand – and then simply isn’t good enough to win football games? How much does that destroy your credibility as a coach (Fox), a senior executive (Elway) and as an organization?

How much longer does that keep you in the Dark Ages of the NFL?

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Posted on: March 26, 2011 8:05 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2011 2:24 pm

John Elway's a little too honest about Jay Cutler

Posted by Andy Benoit
J. Elway (US presswire)
John Elway is still learning what life is like as the head of an NFL team’s front office. Eventually, he’ll come to realize that speaking his mind and giving honest answers to questions about hypothetical situations does him little good.

All that can happen is media outlets like the Chicago Sun Times taking his words on radio and relaying them in print. In that fashion, even when Elway’s words are explained fairly, they’re still presented out of context. Then, the next media outlet comes along (say, CBS’ Eye on Football Blog) and relays the Chicago Sun Times’ relayed words. Then, someone relays those relayed-relayed words on Twitter. By then it’s really tough to maintain Elway’s original context because, you know, the 140 character limit and all.

And so what you have is the world eventually hearing that John Elway said it’s a good possibility the Broncos would not have traded Jay Cutler if Elway had been running the show in 2009.

Elway’s comments were not at all made in an inflammatory fashion. To mitigate some of the “relay damage”, we’ll post an excerpt of what Sean Jenkins of the Sun Times wrote (Jenkins did a great job of explaining the context of Elway’s quotes):

In January, two days before the NFC title game, Elway talked about Cutler at length for a radio station in Denver.

“It was a tough situation he was in, in Denver,” Elway said. “I would say, to be honest, he’s the type of player you don’t give up on as easily as we gave up on. But you look at what he’s done. He’s done a good job there. He’s matured.”

Asked by a radio station host if Cutler would still be a Bronco if he were in charge at the time, Elway said, “There’s a good possibility, yeah.

“I would say that. But I don’t know. I wasn’t in the middle of that. I didn’t know Jay real well.

“But I would have done everything I can, especially when you have a talent like you have in Jay. Those guys don’t come around very often.”

Those sentiments are totally fair and totally logical. But, as Elway may come to learn, sentiments of that ilk can be totally easy for others to misrepresent.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 7, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 2:45 pm

Rivera, Elway to see Newton, not Mallett Tuesday

Posted by Andy Benoit

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and Broncos new football czar John Elway will be on hand for Cam Newton’s pro day on Tuesday. Let the rumors start flying.

Rivera’s attendance is not super significant given that the Panthers will have Newton (projected to go No. 1 overall in Rob Rang's latest mock draft) visit their facility at some point. Elway's attendance is more noteworthy given that he seems to have some hesitations about Tim Tebow.

Because Rivera and Elway are attending Newton’s pro day, he won’t get to see Ryan Mallett’s C. Newton (US Presswire)pro day. Auburn and Arkansas pro days are both slated for Tuesday.

Overlapping pro days are problematic because not only will scouts/coaches/front office execs not get to see both players (and thus compare both players), but they could also be tipping their hand to other teams. (If a team sends its GM, head coach and VP of college scouting to Newton’s workout while having its offensive coordinator and regional scouts go to Mallett (projected by Rang to go 12th to the Vikings), which player would you say they’re most interested in?)

Peter King wrote about it in Monday Morning Quarterback.

"Really drives me nuts,'' one top college scout told me Sunday. Not that there aren't going to be conflicts. But to see so many big schools loading up on such a small number of days. Today, one major school (Tulsa) has its Pro Day; next Monday, there are two (Central Michigan, LSU). Thursday, 13 major schools have Pro Days. Who plans this stuff?

I understand coaches and scouts want the weekend off.... And to get to Baton Rouge you'd have to travel on Sunday unless you were flying private. But for nobody to have noticed Mallett and Newton working out on the same day? Not good.

It doesn’t have to be this way. A little planning and coordination could take care of most conflicts. Colleges, of course, are not obligated to make their schedules convenient for the NFL. But it would be beneficial to them if they did. Obviously, the more players a college can get to the NFL, the easier it is for that college to recruit talent. The whole point of a pro day workout is to help get players to the NFL.

It’s not just about the top tier players, either. If Rivera or Elway, for example, were able to attend Mallett’s workout, they’d also get a firsthand look at the rest of Arkansas’ draft prospects. In the very least, that exposure could later be advantageous when it comes to signing undrafted free agents.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 4:43 pm

Broncos release TE Graham

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Although Broncos TE Daniel Graham is known as one of the premier blocking tight ends in the league, he will turn 33 this season and he’s never made much of an impact in a team’s passing game.

Graham Plus, the Broncos owed him a base salary of $4.2 million for 2011 and a $1 million roster bonus.

As a result, the Broncos announced this afternoon that they’ve released him.

“Our organization is extremely grateful for the character, leadership and high level of play that Daniel Graham brought to the Broncos during his four seasons with this team,” Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway said in a statement released by the team. “Beginning at Thomas Jefferson High School and throughout his time at the University of Colorado and as a Broncos team captain, Daniel always has been embraced and respected by everyone in Denver.

“We are thankful to Daniel for all of his dedication to the Broncos and this community, and we wish him all the best.”

Behind Graham on the depth chart are Richard Quinn – who’s caught one pass in two years – second-year player Dan Gronkowski and Bengals castoff Daniel Coats.

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Posted on: February 28, 2011 4:23 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2011 7:18 pm

NFL combine scene: Monday

Posted by Andy Benoit

Want more combine action? Check out our podcast breakdown of the weekend, and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.

INDIANAPOLIS -- If ever there was confirmation to the idea that the combine has very little to do with the actual workouts, the Monday morning atmosphere in Indy would be it. Defensive players are still going through drills, but virtually all of the media has gone home. Credentials aren’t even issued past Sunday. Player interviews (with the media) are over. Many offensive coaches have left town, as well. And while most coaches are observing the workouts live, it’s not uncommon to see a head coach walking around a hotel lobby during the workouts. You’d think the talent evaluators were watching every precise detail of the events on the field; that’s not the case.

I’m still in town meeting with as many coaches and front office execs as possible. Many of the meetings are previously scheduled, though plenty of times I’ve found myself walking up to someone out of the blue and saying hello. That’s what I did with Jack Del Rio and John Elway as they were heading to Lucas Oil Stadium this morning. This approach can be a hit (Del Rio) or a miss (Elway). It’s nothing personal, just a timing thing.

It’s best to approach these guys near their hotel; the closer they get to the stadium, the more autograph hounds they encounter. The autograph hounds are interesting. A lot of them have stacks of blank white photo papers, which would indicate that the photo part of many autographed photos is actually printed after the signature is acquired. Asking someone for an autograph is a lot like carrying around a superhero-themed lunchbox: it’s great if you’re a little kid and painfully pathetic if you’re a grown man. Sadly, there have been plenty of painfully pathetic grown men running around the Lucas Oil Stadium area these past few days.

Fun as it is to drop a head coach’s name, the best conversations are with assistants and scouts. Most of them aren’t technically allowed to talk to you, though. (That could just be a convenient way to decline a conversation, too.) But plenty of them talk anyway. The primary value of it all is simply laying the groundwork for a future relationship. The secondary value is learning about the game and league from these experts firsthand.

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Posted on: February 22, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 6:25 pm

Broncos sign Champ Bailey to new 4-year deal

Posted by Will Brinson

Plenty of words have been used to speculate on whether or not Champ Bailey would return to the Denver Broncos (especially given the presence of Patrick Peterson at the top of the draft board), but those words are useless now as the Broncos announced they've reached a new four-year deal with Bailey.

That's according to John Elway on -- where else -- Twitter.

"We are thrilled to announce that the Broncos have agreed to terms on a new four-year contract with cornerback Champ Bailey," Elway tweeted. "The commitment and loyalty that Champ has shown to the Broncos, the city of Denver and this region is exemplary."

"We're fortunate to have Champ with the Broncos for a long time. This is a GREAT day for our entire organization and our fans."

Bailey reportedly put his house on the market earlier in the year, and it certainly didn't seem as if he'd end up coming back to Denver -- despite Elway's earlier praise for the cornerback -- especially as they rebuild (they do know they're rebuilding, right??).

This probably means that the Broncos won't be targeting Peterson now, and opens up the significant possibility for a guy who has some similarities to Julius Peppers (Da-Quan Bowers out of Clemson) to end up for a guy who once coached Peppers (John Fox).

At the very least, they can actually seek to upgrade other defensive areas of need. And either way, Champ's going to retire a Bronco, and a lot of mock drafts are going to get re-drafted first thing tomorrow morning.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com