Yeah the crew is back together! Its time for some smooth sailing to the Super Bowl! Things are once again optimistic at Dove Valley. Gary Kubiak has joined his longtime-friend John Elway for a return to glory albeit in different roles and all will be right with the world, right?

Now that everything is seemingly in place for the talent-rich Broncos to make a run at Super Bowl 50 (assuming No. 18 returns) Elway has placed the entire burden upon his broad shoulders. In each of the last four seasons, as Elway has taken on more responsibility, the goal of a championship team has ended in failure and he has had convenient and maybe justifiable excuses. After the recent hires, 2015 will provide no such outs for the glorified savior of the orange and blue.

Over the last four seasons Elway has been furiously building a contender only to fall short. At every turn something or someone has been in his way. Immediately after the end of the Broncos season Elway hired Kubiak in what should be his last head coaching hire, win or lose.

When Elway came back to the Denver Broncos in 2011 as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations he had limited power within the organization and had to have close communication with Owner Pat Bowlen, President Greg Ellis and General Manager Brian Xanders. Between the group they had some great draft picks accompanied with busts and had to pick up the pieces after the failed tenure of Josh McDaniels.

Elway squirmed while John Fox lead the Broncos to an 8-8 season with Tim Tebow under center. After a miraculous playoff victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers Elway was ready to create a serious contender and no one would stand in his way.

Following the 2011 season, Elway decided that Xanders’s time was up and added the title of General Manager to his job description. He then began to implement his ideas across the board. First area of business was the recruitment and landing of Peyton Manning to Broncos Country. It seemed that the bond between a Hall of Fame quarterback and a future member was the finishing touch to get the deal done.

The next three seasons had some great highs and excruciating lows. The team achieved four-straight AFC West titles and four brutally, embarrassing playoff losses. The common thread was poor preparation and even worse execution in crunch time.

As if to tease Elway and his fan base, when things seemed to be turning a corner for a final championship push there was one man that seemed to slowly help erode the vision Elway had in mind.

In each playoff debacle and especially in the most recent one, Fox not Elway was the problem. Fox all but had his next job sewn up before the kickoff of their embarrassing home loss to the Colts in January and stories have surfaced as to Jack Del Rio’s condescending and arrogant attitude nearing the end of his tenure as a Bronco. Elway placed his trust in the wrong people and it cost him several seasons.

In comes Kubiak, who participated, then coached Elway in Super Bowls, winning their last two together. Kubiak then went on to the Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens and turned himself into a respectable coach before returning home.

With Kubiak back as the leader of Elway’s roster and the hiring of several ex-Broncos’ coaches he has now, truly placed all of his eggs in one basket. There will be no secrets as to how this team is run and little to no discrepancies in personnel moves. Elway called Kubiak “the perfect fit” and stated how similarly he and Kubiak think just a few weeks ago when the coach was introduced.

“I know his goals are the same as mine. That is to win and to win world championships. To have that ability to be able to have a guy like Gary that you trust, that I trust, that I respect deeply about his football knowledge and what he can do for this football team, hopefully to take it to that next level—he’s got all those qualities.”

It is crystal clear now is that Elway is in complete control of this organization. After Kubiak’s opening news conference he made his role obvious saying, “Believe me, he’s the boss. I want to coach, he can be the boss.”

Tuesday made it even clearer. Coordinators Rick Dennison, Wade Phillips and Joe DeCamillis all stated several times that the roster decisions were Elway’s to make and theirs to deal with afterward.
“John and those guys will give us a good team and we will go from there,” Dennison said while Phillips later made it apparent that this organization ‘is getting a great leader in John Elway”.

So now the days of McDaniels and Fox are in the rear view mirror, Xanders is off in NFL-limbo and Elway is front and center as the unquestioned leader of the entire organization. Elway will receive the wrath of the Broncos fan base if his hire of Kubiak does not result in a championship. There will simply be no one else to blame but himself. He has constantly preached about “getting to the next level”, “going out kicking and screaming” and now he has exactly who he wanted to coach the team under him.

The pieces are in place and now it becomes the quintessential “sink or swim” scenario. If Kubiak fails it will be a direct result of the players Elway gives him, whether they are from free agency or the draft. How they are coached will no longer be a difference of opinion because they both have stated that they are like-minded and will discuss every piece of the team. No more excuses, no more people to “mutual part ways” with. If the Broncos fail or succeed, the result will be Elway leading the crew to glory or Elway going down with the ship.

Email Sam at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @SamCowhick.

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