The Broncos are no longer delusional about their QB situation
Broncos general manager George Paton received high marks this week, as the Broncos 2021 draft was voted best in the NFL. As good as the Broncos 2021 draft was, it didn’t do much to improve the team as a whole.
Paton now famously passed on Justin Fields and Mac Jones to draft cornerback Pat Surtain II. As good as Paton was in picking a new crop of young talent, he failed to improve the quarterback position to the point that it felt as if he disregarded the importance of the position.
Heading into the 2022 offseason, one thing is clear: Paton will not be disregarding the quarterback position. Paton is going to do everything it takes.
Trying hard and pulling it off are two different things. If Paton is unable to land the star quarterback this offseason, Broncos Country should cut him a break.
When speaking to the media at the NFL combine this week, Paton described his approach this offseason to the quarterback position:
“We don’t care if it’s free agency. We don’t care if it’s the draft. We don’t care if it’s a trade. We’re going to exhaust all options to try to get the best guy for the Broncos.”
Paton added, “We’re gonna (leave) no stone unturned to find that guy. We know we need better play out of the quarterback position, so we’re going to be aggressive.”
Paton is letting Broncos Country know that he understands their frustration. This in stark contrast to last year, when post draft, Paton spoke to the fans like they were stupid when he was speaking about Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater as if anybody should be excited. This year, it was much different which shows Paton is always looking to improve.
Talking a big game has backfired for the Broncos in the past few seasons. From Garett Bolles’ draft day proclamations about protecting his quarterback to Vic Fangio’s comically bad “death by inches,” we’ve learned that talk is cheap.
Speaking so directly was bold of Paton. He knows fans and media are going to hold him accountable for what he says. The expectation is that Paton follows through on what he said. The tougher the talk, the bigger the let down and a letdown is a possibility.
If the Broncos end up with a journeyman like Gardner Minshew or Marcus Mariota, Broncos fan will tune out the 2022 season. Missing on the quarterback will become Paton’s legacy. He is currently staring down two-straight offseasons with zero progress at quarterback.
Paton is not stupid. He would not have made such grand claims if he didn’t intend to follow through. He is well aware of the fall out if he doesn’t deliver.
After passing on a quarterback at No. 9 overall last offseason, Paton won’t get the benefit of the doubt this offseason. But he should.
The difference between this offseason and the previous five is that the Broncos and Paton are admitting they can’t win until the resolve the quarterback issue. Paton’s comments at the combine are the first we’ve heard from the Broncos that displayed a level of understanding of what it takes to win in today’s NFL.
Instead of existing in a state of delusion, Paton gave an honest assessment of the current state of the Broncos. Specifically, they need to find a quarterback and it is the top priority.
For the first time in a while, fans weren’t talked to like they were stupid.
The lesson Paton has learned is that nothing matters without a quarterback. And until he finds one, nobody cares about anything else he does. Most importantly, Paton learned you can’t show Broncos Country a fancy draft class and expect them to be impressed when you’ve yet to show them a quarterback that can lead their team to victories.
The John Elway regime was unable to admit when they were wrong. They were stubborn and arrogant. Paton has been the complete opposite.
While Paton didn’t outright admit he was wrong in his approach last offseason, he basically admitted it. Which should be refreshing to all of Broncos Country.
Paton’s first draft class was voted best in the NFL. Oddly enough, it didn’t improve the Broncos whatsoever.
Until there is a legitimate plan at quarterback, none of these draft classes will matter. The good news is, Paton is willing to learn and adapt. He can’t force somebody to give him a franchise quarterback, and this might not be the year to draft one. But when presented with an opportunity, Paton will swing big. For that, Broncos Country should have faith in him.