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Broncos have plan to win when it matters most

Ian St. Clair Avatar
March 16, 2015

John Elway has “won” free agency each of the last three years.

It started when he pulled the massive coup to sign then-Peyton “Freaking” Manning (now you get the sense he’s no better than Gus Frerotte). In year two, Elway followed suit with Wes Welker. Then last offseason it was DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, TJ Ward, and Emmanuel Sanders.

But it was the lesser known players Elway has signed who have given the Denver Broncos just as much, if not more, value.

Terrance Knighton.

Brandon Marshall.

And a running back he signed as an undrafted free agent who is now a Pro Bowler – C.J. Anderson. Not to mention another undrafted free agent running back, Juwan Thompson.

Of course, over those three years the Broncos have failed when it matters most.

So when Elway took the patient, don’t reach and overspend approach the bad teams have to take, Broncos Country and some in the media can’t see the benefit. Apparently, the season has already been lost. There’s a reason those bad teams have to reach and overspend – to get the fans excited and make it seem they’re getting better.

The teams who find value in the second group of free agents are the teams that play for Super Bowls and win them. If the fit is right and it makes sense, those teams make a splash and get the big name players. But that’s not how you build a consistent winner who competes for championships.

What leads to winning season after season is hitting on the lower-tiered players and the draft. As Elway has said repeatedly, “It’s about winning from now on.”

Most had no clue who Knighton was when he arrived from Jacksonville. Most thought Elway brought back Brandon Marshall the receiver when they heard the news of his signing in Denver.

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That’s why it’s so surprising to see and hear the overreaction for players most have never heard of. If you acknowledge you have never heard of them, how is it automatically a fail? How can anyone have that kind of foresight since this collection of players has yet to step on the field with this collection of coaches? If you do have that foresight, you need to head to Las Vegas instead of griping about players Elway signs – or in this case doesn’t sign.

If you don’t have that foresight, give it some time and see what happens. Who knows, Vance Walker could turn out better than Knighton. The same with Darian Stewart, Shelley Smith, and Owen Daniels. There’s also the younger players who clearly haven’t gotten the coaching or the chance.

Elway made his “splash” in terms of player deals when he re-signed Chris Harris Jr. before the season ended. Elway followed that up at the start of the offseason when he fired, er, “mutually parted ways” with John Fox and hired Gary Kubiak.

That is the biggest offseason move in the AFC if not the NFL.

Elway now has the coaching staff to develop those young players and put a system in place that brings out the best in every player on the roster, a coaching staff he now trusts will make the needed in-game adjustments and won’t get “shocked” by what happens in a game (whenever it happens). He has a coaching staff that will see Denver compete against the best teams in the NFL and “kick and scream” until the game is over.

The last three years, Elway and the Broncos have “won” free agency.

The moves he’s made and this plan of attack give Denver the best chance to win when it matters most.

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