John Elway’s most famous quote as a general manager is one we all know well: “Plan B? There is no plan B. We’re going Plan A!”
That’s what Elway answered when asked about what happens if Peyton Manning doesn’t work out.
Well, luckily for John and the Denver Broncos, he did work out, but there was another quote from Elway that day that stood out to me: “I’m not here to win now; I’m here to win from now on.”
Now, before I go too much further, I want to announce that I am not from Denver — been here a long time and consider it home, but I was not born here. Therefore, I do not recognize John Elway as a man who can do no wrong, as most of you do. I do, though, respect the hell out of him and what he has done with this team, and I understand that he is arguably one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. Still, I have been critical of him in regards to some draft picks and for giving John Fox an extension after getting absolutely embarrassed in Super Bowl 48.
That said, I have to give credit where credit is due. And when he said he’s here to win from now on, he did just that. He took this organization to another level, the same level they were at in the late ’90s, you know, when he was leading the team to Super Bowl victories.
His first approach was to create an offensive juggernaut, and with Peyton Manning at the helm, with a chip on his shoulder, it happened fast.
But insert a defensive juggernaut like the Seattle Seahawks, and we saw John Elway really go to work.
He turned a team defined by the most-powerful and explosive offense in the NFL to a team defined by the most-powerful and explosive defense in the NFL! He did that in two years … Two freaking years.
Now, the $114 million question is: Can the defense again carry a team that will struggle on offense? The good news is that there’s a big, shiny, gold 5-0 behind a Lombardi Trophy at the UC Health Training Center that gives the Broncos and Elway a bit of a pass if the team struggles this year.
The even better news is this: The defense is going to be good for the foreseeable future. We know they’re loaded with talent this year, and they’ve already locked up Chris Harris Jr, Von Miller, Derek Wolfe and Brandon Marshall long term. We also know the time is coming when they’ll be forced to re-sign guys like Bradley Roby, Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray, but with guys like Aqib Talib and Darian Stewart likely playing their last seasons in Denver, there will be money to spend.
As I mentioned above, I have been critical of John Elway regarding some of his draft picks, but that mostly comes on the offensive side on the ball; he has been pretty damn good on the other side of the ball.
With the possibility of Talib and Stewart leaving after the season, Elway nailed a couple of picks again in the secondary. Justin Simmons, the third round pick out of Boston College, won’t just be a good replacement for Stewart next year, but he’s likely to play a lot this season, too — that’s how good he is.
There are several variables that could change, but from what I am seeing, when Elway said he is here to win from now on, he meant it!