Just under 1,200 days ago, John Elway was standing on the podium at Levi’s Stadium, lifting the Lombardi Trophy and triumphantly proclaiming to Broncos Country that “This one’s for Pat!” In the time since, he’s overseen a slow and steady deterioration from a championship-caliber team to a franchise that’s gone 11-21 during the past two seasons.
A lot of people deserve blame for the Broncos free fall, including Elway himself, but the first 42 picks of the 2019 NFL Draft clearly demonstrate what the general manager thinks is the main reason for Denver’s rapid decline. The Hall of Fame quarterback believes it’s been his team’s offense that has been the issue.
On Thursday, the Broncos looked to improve their passing game, adding Noah Fant to a tight end group that has been short on big-play ability and can’t stay healthy. And then on day two of the draft, before most people had gotten home from work and turned on NFL Network, Denver added versatile offensive lineman Dalton Risner at No. 41 and traded up to pick quarterback Drew Lock with the 42nd overall selection.
Clear. Message. Sent.
The Broncos offense hasn’t been good enough in recent seasons. And their general manager is on a mission to fix it.
Anyone who has watched the Broncos since Super Bowl 50 would have a hard time arguing with Elway’s assessment. Not only has Denver been bad during that period, but they’ve been boring.
Last year’s end-of-season collapse was proof positive of that fact. Sitting at 6-6, with four winnable games on the horizon, the Broncos lost four straight to fall from wild card contention to last place in the AFC West. Along the way, they managed to put up a measly 13.25 points per game in losses to 49ers, Browns, Raiders and Chargers.
It doesn’t take a bust in Canton to know that’s not going to get it done. But it certainly helps make the notion crystal clear.
John Elway doesn’t like losing. It pains him even more to fall because his team can’t get out of its own way offensively. The first 42 picks of the draft proved that point.
Noah Fant, Dalton Risner and Drew Lock are huge additions to the side of the ball where Denver has struggled the most. All three are being counted on to be fixtures for years to come on offense.
The Broncos record might not improve in 2019. But they’re certainly going to be more fun to watch.
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