In only two seasons, the Broncos went from Super Bowl 50 champions to 5-11. President of football operations and G.M. John Elway has a suggestion for turning it around: The team’s key players need to step it up.
“That’s the core of your team and you’re right, we’ve got to play better,’’ Elway told Mike Klis of 9News.com after Klis mentioned players like linebacker Von Miller, receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby, defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, linebacker Brandon Marshall, and safety Darian Stewart. “I know all those guys you mentioned can play better than they played last year. We’ve got to get the leadership back from all those guys and they’ve got to get their game to the next level where it was.”
As the 2017 season was falling apart, Elway made waves by suggesting that the team had gotten soft. He didn’t speak in those terms on Sunday.
“For us to get back and do what we want to do, which is compete for a championship, then those guys you just mentioned have to play better,” Elway said. “We’ve got to play better as a core. As a team, I know we can play a lot better than we did last year.’’
Appearing on PFT Live earlier this month at the Scouting Combine, Elway was more specific regarding the reasons for the decreased level of play.
“We did not respond to turnovers well,” he said at the time. “I think that we lost a little bit of hope. When you lose hope on a football team, it’s very difficult to get that back. Then the harder we tried, the more mistakes we made offensively and the more discouraged the defense got. It’s kind of one of those snowball years where we couldn’t get it to stop from rolling down the hill. Hopefully, we can learn from it and not repeat that this year.”
If they do, and if as a result they fail to win at least eight games, the Broncos will have their first back-to-back losing seasons since 1971-72. And if that happens, the changes next year will surely be far more dramatic than they were this year.