The Denver Broncos, through a weekend plus of training camp, are on a mission. It seems impossible that a team clouded by Josh McDaniels and Tim Tebow for much of the last three years could suddenly be a collective unit, all working with the goal of getting to the Super Bowl. The fact that the Broncos have the possibility to legitimately compete with Peyton Manning going into the season for the first time since their second Super Bowl after the 1998 season has brought back a level of excitement to Denver.
During Monday’s open practice, which drew over 1000 people, every precision pass by Manning was applauded. Standing with the media, I heard a former Bronco make the comment, “this guy is so good, he doesn’t remind me of John (Elway); he doesn’t remind me of anyone.” Being close to Manning, it’s impossible to ignore his prescience on the field. During a special teams drill, he was running from sideline to sideline just because he could, while we all stood and watched. He changes offensive alignments in practice on the fly and can read plays before they happen.
The highlight of the practice was one fan yelling across the masses a few minutes in, “You’re so much better than Tebow!” No one responded; there was no need for a response. Just being around the players with new hope and optimism is enough. The Broncos addressed most of their needs in the offseason, primarily through free agency. They have veteran future Hall of Fame leadership in Champ Bailey and Manning. They no longer are in the business of miracles, but in the business of winning.
When players talk about championship teams, they talk about a sense of focus and business. The Denver Broncos players from the two Super Bowl years had these qualities, as did the local Colorado Avalanche players during their two Stanley Cup seasons. Whether this cohesiveness, purpose and special connection is a creation afterwards is unclear, but this Broncos team has the seeds of such a season. Whether this is the wishful thinking of the pre-season or something more, this Broncos team believes completely in itself.