The Denver Broncos: Built by John Elway
Broncos: Built by John Elway
The Denver Broncos are relevant again in the NFL and I’m not talking about being a sideshow; I’m talking about being a team that everyone looks at and says they could win it all. Yes the Broncos were in the national spotlight last year but that’s because it was a circus, no one outside of Denver believed that the Broncos were any kind of threat. After their dominating win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, the Broncos are one of the three or four best teams in the AFC and they are only getting better.
There’s a lot of credit to go around but none of this is possible without John Elway who has put this team together. He came in when the team was as low as it has ever been and has turned it completely around in less than two years. My views on Elway and the job he has done are well documented, but today I’m going to remind you of some of the moves he has made in those two years. Everyone knows about Peyton Manning, Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, Willis McGahee and so on. What people may not know is that a lot of the players who are playing important roles on the 2012 Broncos were not well known or they were considered past their prime, and Elway has hit it out of the park on almost every move.
Elway has had plenty of help from his own personnel department, the coaches and the scouts but in the end it is Elway who has pulled the trigger on every move. It’s almost funny, there are guys that have been doing this for thirty years and Elway is all ready one of the best.
Chris Harris is all ready considered one of the best pure cover cornerbacks in the NFL, and he was an undrafted free agent out of Kansas. The reports are that Elway saw him play when he went to scout Oklahoma quarterback, Landry Jones and came away more impressed with Harris. Right after the 2011 draft, the Broncos were on the phone with Harris and had him signed immediately. Harris now a cornerstone of the Broncos defense.
Tony Carter represents a different side of Elway that most personnel men don’t have. He signed cornerback, Drayton Florence to be that fourth guy on passing situations but Carter beat him out in training camp. Too many other General Managers would be too proud to admit they made a mistake in signing Florence, but not Elway. His quote was simple and to the point, “Carter beat him out.” The best player made the team and now Carter is playing great.
Jim Leonhard and Keith Brooking
A lot of people scoffed when the Broncos signed veterans, Jim Leonhard and Keith Brooking but no one is laughing now. Leonhard is playing meaningful minutes in the secondary and Brooking is now the starting middle linebacker. Since Brooking took over in the middle, the defense for the Broncos has taken off. Both Leonhard and Brooking also bring a leadership that has been missing from the Broncos for a long time.
2012 draft pick Danny Trevathan gets better every single week, and the Broncos are having a tough time keeping the rookie linebacker off of the field. Trevathan was a mid-round pick but he’s playing like a first or second round pick, and that does not happen by accident. Elway and the scouts that work under him continue to find players in every round of the draft and beyond.
Virgil Green and Nate Irving
Go back to the 2011 draft and the players that many were ready to call busts after only one season are starting to contribute. Tight-end, Virgil Green had a big night versus the Saints and he might be the best blocker on the team. Green took out the entire right side of the Saints defensive line on one running play. Nate Irving, while not playing a lot at linebacker, has turned into one of the teams’ best players on special teams.
Most, including me, were ready to call safety Rahim Moore a bust after his rookie season and he has been solid in 2012. Outside of the loss to the Houston Texans, the Broncos have not been beaten deep and a lot of that credit goes to the development of Moore.
Finally there’s center, Dan Koppen. Another signing that people raised their eyes at but try to imagine the Broncos offensive line now without him? There were people who were saying if the New England Patriots don’t want him, why do the Broncos want him? Elway knew they needed depth on the offensive line and made the move, and now it looks brilliant.
These are just a few of the moves that Elway has made since he took over; there are far too many to cover them all here but there’s no doubt that he has put together a contending football team.
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