John Elway is one of the best quarterbacks of all time and, for many years, was considered one of the best general managers in football. That’s what two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl title will do for you.
But he may have bitten off more than he could chew last Friday, when he called the Broncos – his Broncos – soft. Denver lost its sixth straight game two days later, this time to Cincinnati, 20-17.
Were Elway’s comments out-of-bounds?
“Man, he put himself in a situation,” Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis said on Tiki and Tierney. “I know that the fans and people who watch football, we like for GMs to be honest, but there’s times where honesty is not the best policy. So if I were John, would I have said that? Probably not. Those comments would have been voiced inside of that building, and that’s where it would have stayed. If I was going to express to them that they were soft, I’m bringing the team in, the coach is going to be there, and I would share that with them. Because I wouldn’t say it outside. It sort of points fingers as like, ‘Hey, guys, it’s on you. It ain’t on me.’ It divides people. I just wouldn’t have said that.”
Denver (3-7) started 3-1 but hasn’t won a game since its Week 5 bye. Even worse, five of the six losses have come by double digits, as Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler have combined for just 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on the season.
Poor quarterback play has plagued the Broncos for the last year and beyond. They started 4-0 in 2016 but are 8-14 over their last 22 games.
Indeed, it appears Peyton Manning was more valuable than his so-so statistical 2015 season suggested.
“They were able to mask a lot when Peyton was there,” Davis said. “Their defense was phenomenal, but Peyton was able to not only on the field keep the offensive flow in terms of his play, but his leadership. When Peyton left, a lot of people were just focusing on the last season that Peyton had. He didn’t play that well. But what they didn’t understand was when a person like that leaves the building, it’s not just the physical aspect that you’re taking away. It’s the leadership. It’s the accountability. It’s the guy that’s sitting there that makes other players’ game rise. And so, when he walked out the door, everyone was like, ‘Okay, we can keep on keeping on.’”
Easier said than done.
“They did it for a little bit,” Davis said, “but then teams started to realize that, ‘Hey, this is no Peyton Manning back there.’ Trevor’s first year, he started off pretty well and then he struggled. In this league, you got to have a quarterback that can make teams pay when they either try to pressure you or if they try to stack the box. That didn’t happen.”
Paxton Lynch will now get his crack at quarterback. The 2016 first-round pick will start this Sunday in Oakland (4-6).
If Lynch is a bust, Elway could be in trouble.
“John, right now, he’s on the hot seat,” Davis said. “There’s no question about it. He’s a guy who’s arguably a top-five quarterback of all time, and the last couple of years the quarterback position – besides Peyton – has really not been a strong suit of this team. They have struggled. Paxton Lynch, we’ll see this week. But my eye balls tell me he’s still not ready.”
Kickoff is at 4:25 p.m. ET.
In other news, Davis also said he does not expect Terrell Owens to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year – despite the fact that he ranks second all-time in receiving yards and third all-time in receiving touchdowns.
“It’s just because of what he’s been doing to the voters,” Davis said. “They’re human. Voters, like anybody else, they’re not obligated to put him in. Should he be in? Absolutely, yes, 1,000 percent. Will he go in this year? No.”