George Paton proved he’s moving on from John Elway and Vic Fangio
George Paton made his biggest move as Broncos general manager this week when he traded Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams. The trade is significant beyond the exit of a Broncos legend; the Miller trade means that Paton has seen enough. This week ended the collaboration between John Elway, Vic Fangio and Paton. From here on out, it’s Paton’s show.
George Paton is in an awkward position. He is currently tasked with building a championship team while the guy who screwed it up, Elway, is still in the building. Also, that guy who screwed it up just happens to be the most-famous name in the organization’s history.
Paton’s first year has been a favor to Elway. He is giving one last shot to Elway’s handpicked head coach, Fangio. Right now, if/when Elway exits his role as a Broncos executive, he will have made two straight blunders at the head coaching position. Paton did his best to help Elway avoid this embarrassment.
Paton devoted free agency and the draft to doing what Fangio loves most, ignoring the offense and focusing on defense. Paton’s attempt to prop up Fangio was also a nod to assisting Elway in recreating the glory of the Broncos 2015 defense. Building a defense to win a Super Bowl is a strategy that rarely works, yet Elway continually tried, and Paton gave it one last shot.
Big surprise, for the sixth straight season, it hasn’t worked. In the end, Paton followed Elway’s lead and Elway embarrassed him.
Paton gave Fangio and Elway half the season to test their already failed strategy, and now Paton is moving in another direction. Paton is distancing himself from the nonsense that’s been happening with the Broncos.
Elway and Fangio have made Paton look stupid. Paton went all in on the Elway and Fangio method and in turn Paton witnessed 12,000 no-shows at the Broncos’ most-recent home game. Under Paton’s watch, Broncos fans have checked out. That’s not what he came here to do.
On “Thursday Night Football” at Cleveland, the Broncos “vaunted” defense had their doors blown off. Injury excuses don’t work when you consider Cleveland had injures and backups in at their major positions. This was the Broncos only nationally televised game of the 2021 season and their performance was abysmal.
After eight games, Paton is tired of seeing the Broncos humiliated. The facade is over. Paton is done with the Elway approach.
Paton’s message to Elway and Fangio was loud and clear. Von Miller was the very first player John Elway drafted as an executive (along with then-GM Brian Xanders). Von Miller was the best player on Vic Fangio’s defense. The Broncos success is predicated on a dominant defense. Von Miller was important to Elway’s legacy and any success Fangio could have for the remainder of the 2021 season, and Paton shipped him out of town without thinking twice.
Von Miller was a major reason the Broncos were 3-0, and now he’s in Los Angeles. If Paton truly believed this team had any shot, he would not have traded their most-effective player.
Paton showed some “you know whats” this week. Broncos fans’ anger is at a fever pitch and Paton traded the franchise’s most-popular player. Von Miller is a legend and Paton traded him at the trade deadline. A future Hall of Famer shipped off at the trade deadline is a rarity, but Paton didn’t flinch.
Paton could have released Von Miller before the season and saved the Broncos money. Instead, he was willing to pay Miller the full $18 million in order to give Fangio a shot at winning. Fangio proved incapable, so Paton cut his losses and got a nice return for Miller.
Trading Miller was Paton taking control of a Broncos organization that has been plagued by bad decisions, stubbornness and a misguided approach to winning. Paton isn’t tied to these bad decisions because he didn’t make them. It’s easy for Paton to move on. He listened to Elway and Fangio, tried it their way and it didn’t take long for Paton to shut them down.
The one thing Paton did on his own this past year was the draft. While it’s becoming clear he should have drafted Mac Jones, Paton did have a good draft. Patrick Surtain, Javontae Williams, Caden Sterns and now Jonathan Cooper are all contributing. Paton is going to have become bold to get a quarterback, but after trading Von Miller, we know he has what it takes to swing for the fences.
Trading Von Miller was a major decision for a first-year general manager.
Broncos fans never forgave Josh McDaniels for trading Jay Cutler, and Broncos fans don’t even like Cutler. Broncos Country loves Von Miller. Many became diehard fans based off Miller’s Super Bowl MVP performance. Trading Miller took guts.
We don’t know what’s ahead for the Broncos, but based off this week, it’s clear George Paton is now firmly in charge. Based on what we’ve seen in recent years, it’s about time a new voice is calling the shots.