I was able to have John Elway answer some questions via email thanks to the website that he is currently working with, Opensports.com. Elway was kind enough to respond to my questions about Jay Cutler, the state of the Broncos, and his life after the NFL.
One of last week’s top headlines occurred when Jay Cutler said that he has a stronger arm than Elway. When I asked Elway about the similarities that he sees between himself and Cutler on the field, he said that Cutler has a similar game than he had.
“He has a strong arm, he’s mobile and athletic. He has the ability to make plays with his legs and seems to be competitive. He is in a good system that takes advantage of his abilities.”
Elway is right. There’s no question that Mike Shanahan is doing a great job of playing to Cutler’s arm strength. However, his turnovers have cost the Broncos a couple of wins this year. Once the team can hold onto the ball like they were at the beginning of the season, the offense should get on a nice roll again.
Elway also said that turnovers along with injuries are hurting the offense right now.
“The Broncos are an explosive team offensively with several weapons, although injuries have limited their productivity as of late as well as defenses catching up with them. They have the ability to score a lot of points but have really hurt themselves with turnovers. They are young and have a tremendous amount of potential.”
We saw the Broncos offensive horsepower at the beginning of the season as they were averaging 38 points per game. The last three games has seen them average 17 points per game. The potential is there, and the maturation process will rein in the young guns on this team. Cutler and Brandon Marshall had 6 turnovers combined in the Broncos’ two losses, but Elway says that Marshall is the best receiver in the league with Larry Fitzgerald not too far behind. He says,
“Brandon is an awesome target with the size and speed. In my opinion, what makes him the best is his ability to run after the catch. He has a chance to score every time he touches the ball.”
Give credit to the offensive line for helping Marshall succeed this season. The O-line has done an outstanding job for the team this year allowing just one sack on Cutler. Elway says,
“I think the offensive line is playing well. They are very talented and young with the exception of [Casey] Wiegmann and [Ben] Hamilton who I’m sure are providing the leadership.”
Despite having a great O-line, the running game had not done anything until the last game against Jacksonville when Michael Pittman ran for over 100 yards. Elway says that the team is missing rookie tailback Ryan Torain (may return in week 9). Now that everyone is hyping Torain’s abilities, he’s got a lot of pressure on him to perform well in his first NFL game. It would be great if he lived up to the hype because it would relieve some pressure on the passing game.
As far as the defense is concerned, Elway says that they are improving and can be successful against one dimensional teams like Tampa Bay. However, they struggle with teams that are capable of running and throwing the ball (i.e. New Orleans, San Diego). Because there are a lot of new players who are still learning the system, Elway thinks that defensive cohesiveness has been the problem, but he foresees them improving as the year progresses.
The main problem that he saw in the loss to Kansas City was the pass rush. Elway says,
“[Elvis] Dumervil is only legit pass rusher. Their 1st. round pick (Moss) and 2nd round pick (Crowder) from last year have had injury problems and have not panned out yet.”
Even with Dumervil being the only legit pass rusher, he didn’t have his first sack of the season until week 5 against Tampa Bay. That truly shows you what kind of defensive continuity the Broncos have (or don’t have). Star players are having trouble getting the job done when the entire unit off. Hopefully, Elway is right in his assessment of the defense. If time and good health is all they need, then the team should have a nice springboard to jump off in time for the playoffs.
Speaking of the playoffs, Elway says that it’s hard to predict Super Bowl teams this early in the season because so many things change. There isn’t one dominant team in the league right now, but he did pick the Colts and the Giants to make an appearance in Tampa.
As far as the AFC West goes, Elway says,
”The AFC West will come down to Broncos and Chargers. The Chiefs and Raiders are horrendous. The schedule favors the Broncos but it may come down to the Chargers game in San Diego.”
How fitting would that be? To see Philip Rivers’ season end because of Jay Cutler and the Broncos would excite fans and probably set off fireworks in Denver. I hope Elway is right about that one.
Since retiring from the NFL in 98′, Elway has kept himself busy.
“I have two Toyota stores in California that takes me out there quite a bit. I spend a lot of time a lot of time with my arena team, the Colorado Crush, and I always try to fit a little golf in also!”
So any time for a coaching tenure in the NFL?
“I would never say never but it’s probably unlikely because I wouldn’t want to leave Denver.”
Come on, John. If you said the word, I’m sure Pat Bowlen and Shanahan would bring you aboard in a heartbeat!
Topics: Ben Hamilton, Brandon Marshall, Casey Wiegmann, Colorado Crush, Denver Broncos, Elvis Dumervil, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jay Cutler, John Elway, Kansas City Chiefs, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Pittman, Mike Shanahan, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Pat Bowlen, Philip Rivers, Ryan Torain, San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers