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Drew Lock #3 of the Denver Broncos reacts after being defeated by the Atlanta Falcons 34-27 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 08, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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This year’s Broncos look a lot like the team a decade ago

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

For the fourth straight season, the Denver Broncos are 3-6.  The Broncos are stuck in place and don’t appear to have any idea on how to get out of this mess. 

As much as the 2020 season resembles 2016-18, it actually is more like another season the team was 3-6 after nine games.  That season was 2010 and it turned out to be one of the lowest points in Broncos history.   

The Broncos finished the 2005 season by losing in the AFC Championship Game.  While they came up short that day, there was optimism that the team would compete for years to come.  What nobody could have predicted is that the Broncos would miss the playoffs for the next five seasons from 2006-10.

During that stretch, each season was progressively more embarrassing than the last.  Ultimately, the team bottomed out in 2010 by finishing 4-12. 

The season was covered in embarrassing losses, such as at home to the Raiders by a 59-14 count, cheating in London and still losing to the 49ers, and losing at Arizona in a game in which kicker Jay Feely scored a touchdown.  

The dreadful 2010 season was the culmination of five years of bad decision making on every level of the Broncos organization. It was the season that everything finally caught up to the Broncos and they were forced to take an entirely new approach in 2011.

The 2015 Broncos won the Super Bowl. Even though Peyton Manning retired after that victory, I don’t think anybody thought the Broncos would miss the playoffs for five straight seasons. Since the victory in Super Bowl 50, the  Broncos have regressed every season.  

A decade removed from 2010, this Broncos season is starting to feel very similar. Much like 2010, the Broncos are in year five of a five-year playoff drought. This season is the result of five years of short-sighted and misguided decisions.  

The 2010 Broncos had a game midseason in which they beat the Chiefs 49-29. It was exciting, but ultimately proved to be an outlier. The Broncos improbable comeback win against the Chargers three weeks ago will likely prove to be an outlier, as well. A bright spot in an otherwise difficult season.

The evidence at this point is overwhelming. The Broncos approach looks worse with each passing season. 

The hardest part of 2010 was the Broncos were irrelevant. They weren’t just bad, nobody cared about them. At this point in 2020, nobody cares about the Broncos outside of Denver. They once again find themselves irrelevant. 

The Broncos need to be honest with themselves. This is potentially rock bottom again.

Blaming Vic Fangio and Drew Lock is too easy. Fangio and Lock were tasked with cleaning up a mess that existed long before they arrived. Despite different coaches and quarterbacks, we’re staring at the same team season after season. There’s a disconnect in the organization that needs to be fixed or else these problems will persist, regardless of the coach and quarterback.

Both Lock and Fangio have shown their inexperience, but the Broncos don’t have the proper infrastructure to support a brand new head coach and quarterback. A head coach and quarterback can’t succeed if the organization as a whole doesn’t know how to properly build a team. 

Following 2010, the Broncos were able to turn things around and from 2011-15 went on arguably the best run in team history.  The Broncos are doomed forever, but they also can’t expect to win by continually lying to themselves about who they are.

If the Broncos win only one more game this season and finish 4-12, they need to find a new voice in the organization. That doesn’t necessarily mean firing anyone, but it means empowering somebody new that can re energize the franchise.

It’s up to the Broncos decision makers to fix it. They can’t keep looking in the mirror and telling themselves they’re great when they’re clearly not.