The difference between the two front office faces of the Denver Broncos and the Dallas Cowboys? John Elway called the Broncos’ 51-48 win a “confidence builder.” Jerry Jones called the loss a “moral victory.” Jones was also inside his suite on his flip phone telling Zack Morris that same thing.
That’s why the Broncos are 5-0 and the Cowboys are 2-3. It all boils down to expectations, and communication of those expectations.
The Broncos have a 99.1% chance of making the playoffs this year, according to Football Outsiders. Does that matter to Elway? Not really. As we all saw last January, success in the playoffs is all that matters for a team with this kind of talent.
As a player, Elway led the Broncos on a league-record 47 game winning or game saving drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. As Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Broncos, he’s saved the team once again.
If Jesus turned water into wine, John Elway spun the miracle and turned Tim Tebow into Peyton Manning. That may be just as impressive as his two back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the late 90s.
Pat Bowlen and Elway made the marriage, errrr, re-marriage, errrr, partnership official in early January 2011. That was seven years after Elway received his gold jacket in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was time for Elway to hang the jacket, however, roll up his sleeves, and get to work again. It was time for him to re-introduce the winning culture in Denver.
Elway oversees all football operations for the team that he played for during his 16-year career. He gets on the horn to acquire players and directs the acquisition process, which includes college scouting research and free agency. He has final say on all football matters.
When Elway signed on the dotted line in Bowlen’s office that sunny day in January, the Broncos were coming off a 4-12 season under the hooded coach, Josh McDaniels. Elway’s primary goal was to hire the best coach out there at the time. The Broncos brought John Fox aboard, who had a proven track record of taking arm-pit quality teams and turning them into Super Bowl contenders. The Fox hiring happened eight days after Elway was hired.
Next, Elway re-signed Champ Bailey. Bailey easily could have walked or even retired after so many frustrating years in Denver. Elway also signed Willis McGahee, who went on to lead the league’s No. 1 rushing attack on his way to his second Pro Bowl selection.
The Broncos improved to an 8-8 team that became the first since the NFL merger to win its division and a playoff game with a new head coach after four or less wins the previous season.
With early success, the Broncos could have continued the course with Tebow. However, Elway’s next conquest was getting the league’s best free agent to come to Denver after four neck surgeries. A gamble? Sure. However, Elway’s always had the hot hand, not to mention the football IQ.
A 13-3 record propelled the Broncos to the AFC’s No. 1 seed in 2012, and Elway became the first executive to produce a division title in both of his first two seasons with a team. Heading into last season, Elway signed Mike Adams, Justin Bannan, Keith Brooking, Dan Koppen, Brandon Stokley, Joel Dreessen, and Jacob Tamme in addition to Manning. Elway believes in building from the ground up, but clearly he has nothing against signing aged, but proven veterans.
Of the 33 players that started for the Broncos in 2012, Elway was responsible for drafting or signing 23 of them. Todd Helton must be proud because Elway really hit a home run the year before when he drafted Von Miller.
This year’s barometer shows even more improvement, with the Broncos obviously having a historic start to the season.
So if the government decides that Colorado should have its own state currency, someone should tell the U.S. Mint to print “In Elway We Trust” on each coin.