It’s not my system.

It’s my team though.

And if we’re being perfectly blunt, I’m sick of watching the NFL playoffs without a dog in the fight. I’m tired of missing the playoffs, missing on draft picks and missing on coaching hires.

Would it be too much to ask for a Mike McDaniel-type every one-in-four coaches? The only coach since Gary Kubiak that anyone even remotely “liked” was Nathaniel Hackett… for all of 10 minutes until he proved to be so incompetent that it was impossible to root for him. My friend Jake Shapiro just wrote an entertaining column suggesting that Russell Wilson was one of Denver sports all-time villains. Fun stuff – a debate to be sure – but Jake, what about the head coach?

Of course, none of this is very impartial or objective. Sure, I “cover” the Broncos as part of my job, but this prose isn’t written by a “journalist” per say. Instead these are the words of someone born and raised Denver, a little boy who grew up rooting for the Broncos on Sundays as if it was just an extension of church. Being mad at the team for not doing well is a rite of passage (maybe even a little fun) for every sports fan, but this eight-year stretch of nonsense has worn out its welcome.

Sadly, it could have ended this season.

Russell Wilson is not John Elway or Peyton Manning. But he is – was – a quarterback capable of leading the Broncos to the playoffs this season. Anyone who’s studied the Broncos could see, like Sean Payton, that Wilson wasn’t the longterm solution for the Broncos, but he was winning this year.

“I’m just interested in winning,” Payton told the press on Wednesday.

Winning? Please.

Wilson certainly had his flaws – perhaps “limitations” is fairer to the head coach – but losing to the Patriots was Sean-O-Claus dumping a big lump of coal in our orange and blue stockings Christmas Eve. That was on him. The coach unwrapped what he wanted the next morning; Broncos Country woke up like Whoville after the Grinch stole their Christmas.

Perhaps Wilson isn’t the answer for seasons to come, but when a grouchy head coach who accepts none of the blame any of the time tries to sell a smart and frustrated fan base that the move to bench Wilson in favor of Jarrett Stidham is about winning, it’s hard not to chuckle. I bet Justin Simmons and Garett Bolles – neither of whom have ever had a taste of the playoffs – aren’t exactly laughing out loud.

I wrote before the Patriots game that losing best-suited Payton and that a sabotage of the 2023 season would ultimately be the best way to force and justify change at the quarterback position. In retrospect, I was sadly correct. There was zero reason a playoff-caliber Broncos team should lose to the hapless New England Patriots at home on Christmas Eve.

There are a million (actually 37 million at least) reasons that played into the decision to bench Wilson. Money, ego, stubbornness all amongst them. With all due respect to Stidham, an innocent bystander in all of this, his ability to win now or even next year in Broncos orange had nothing to do with Payton’s move.

Perhaps that’s most troubling. No, we won’t be participating in the postseason… again. And yes – unless there’s a magic trick up someone’s sleeve – Denver will be heading into the offseason with far more questions than answers… again.

Can you hardly wait for the Jarrett Stidham Era? Or the unlikely trade that will bring Kirk Cousins, his bum Achilles and his 1-4 postseason record to Denver? Or next year’s version of Teddy Two-Gloves, the Wonder Free Agent? The quarterback drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round, guaranteed to change the Broncos fortunes of the Broncos immediately?

Go ahead and make plans for January 2025 – you won’t be going to Empower Field for a playoff game then, either.

As someone who cares about the Broncos more than Sean Payton’s precious offense, I’m becoming less and less interested in how the team will be three years from now. Just as Tim Tebow’s whacky style of play wasn’t sustainable, perhaps Wilson winning in Denver wasn’t either. But it was working for the here and now. Then again, I wouldn’t trade “Tebow to Demaryius” for anything; can you imagine if someone said, “Well, this isn’t going to work next season, let’s just forget about trying to make the playoffs” at the end of that season? We’d have been robbed of a great, great memory. Who ever knows what’s possible when a team finds its way into the tournament?

Payton said he was looking for ways to get into the endzone. Guess the coach missed this stat:

During the Broncos five-game winning streak (largely because of their great defense during that stretch), Wilson had a 71.64 completion percentage while throwing eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. And get this, after this week, 14 NFL quarterbacks have more passing attempts than Wilson, but of those 14, only four have more passing touchdowns, and just two have fewer interceptions.

I don’t know coach, it seems like you had figured out something pretty good with Wilson, whether you enjoyed it or not.

The Broncos are still mathematically alive for a spot in the playoffs, but the likelihood of getting there – especially behind a quarterback who’s started all of two NFL games and thrown six touchdowns and seven interceptions – seems silly at best. This isn’t about winning, not now.

It feels like we’ve been robbed. But this time around we were kicked in the you-know-whats and left wincing on the sidewalk.

Enjoy your loot, and thanks for nuthin’, coach.