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Off With Their Heads

Mike Olson Avatar
September 22, 2023

“Off with their heads!”
-Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

If you were a reader of the children’s books, or even a watcher of Disney’s rather on-point film adaptations, you know the Queen of Hearts to be more than a bit of an over-the-top villain. An emotional whirlwind who deals with every slight, large or small, with a melon-separating edict. That head of yours is coming off. And while her strong application of the principal was decidedly over the top, you have to admit, everyone notices when heads start rolling.

There are a number of heads at the Denver Broncos’ headquarters who might be feeling a little… separated at the moment, with all that been going on around Dove Valley of late. What with the Broncos starting their season 0-2 after yet another massive move and gesture in bringing head coach Sean Payton in to right a ship that had theoretically already been righted the season before with Russell Wilson joining the fold.

Those gents, the head of the team and the head of the offense on the field, may not be feeling particularly sweaty about their own heads just yet, but also can’t be feeling as safe as either of their illustrious careers has kept them feeling thus far. While last season’s Denver squad finished the year a depressing 5-12, it’s easy to forget that they got out of the gates to a 2-1 start, Denver’s first (and last) foray above .500 in a few seasons now.

For this year’s team to take their most immediate route back above .500, all they’ll need to do is find a way to beat the Dolphins, Bears, and Jets (oh my) over the next three weeks, a task that sounds difficult at best. But not as difficult as the stretch they’ll see the rest of the season, against the Chiefs twice, Chargers twice, and Bills, Browns, Lions, and Raiders all littered across the rest of the way. Oh my.

There’s that sweat on those heads. How many more beads before someone’s starts to roll?

A popular name for the head (koff) of this list is the head of this year’s defense, Mr. Vance Joseph. Vance was the head coach of the team five and six seasons back, and headed out to other pastures before being Payton’s third or fifth choice for the gig when this chance rolled around. HC Vance and his defensive staff of the times had led the team’s defenses to 22nd-best and 13th-best finishes in his two years of 5-11 and 6-10 finishes. The fact that his sole focus is now on the defense and that same topic seems to be suffering greatly has many wondering if he’ll see season’s end. His squad seems too talented for their showing so far, for sure. Will VJ be the only example made? Will one be made at all?

You have to imagine that there’s an interesting dichotomy for the new Broncos ownership, the Walton-Penner group with so many luminous names attached in some way around it. From one perspective, the group as a whole comes from a long line of folks who play their card pretty wisely, safely, and close to the vest. Overreactions to troubles seem one of the least likely outcomes for this leadership team.

Simultaneously, it’s also a group unaccustomed to losing at many of the endeavors they set forth in, with two swing-for-the-fences moves in their first two seasons of steering the ship. With pockets deep enough to course correct several times over, how ambitious might they be in making changes? Maybe a few necks should be feeling that Adam’s apple bobbing a bit dryly right now. With as competitive a landscape as the Denver entertainment dollar is these days, the usually-reliable Broncos income streams may be a bit less stable these days. And even for a group with the bankroll these owners have, that’s where this rumble will be felt the hardest. Threaten the lifeblood of the cash cow, and then heads will really start to roll.

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