The sky is falling over the Denver Broncos following a four-game skid, and with each loss, the calls for change grow deafening in Broncos Country.
After long-overdue early season success, the season has unraveled. Following a 3-0 start, the Broncos have been roughed up week after week. Each loss is seemingly more embarrassing than the last.
The Baltimore Ravens ran the ball with just seconds left while being up 20 points to extend a record. Next, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steeler offense reversed time and dismantled the Broncos’ defense. The Las Vegas Raiders lost their head coach to a scandal and promptly beat Denver in all three phases. Finally, the injury-riddled Browns, fresh off their own back-to-back losses ran up and down the field against the Broncos with Case Keenum at the helm.
One would expect the Broncos to sell prior to the trade deadline just days away. News speculated about which high-priced veteran would be out the door. Fans and media wondered what coach will be let go.
Yet the team pushes ahead saying and doing all the things a contending team does. Only one game out of a playoff spot, the Broncos acquired two defensive veterans to try and shore up a banged-up unit.
Former Viking Stephen Weatherly was brought in due to mounting losses on the edge.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 23, 2021
Additionally, the defense needed help at inside linebacker and added veteran starter, Kenny Young, from the Rams.
Trade: Rams are sending LB Kenny Young and a 2024 7th-round pick to the Broncos in exchange for 2024 sixth-round pick, per sources.
Broncos have eight injured LBs, including six on injured reserve.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 25, 2021
The front office remains focused on this season as well, as George Paton has resisted making any large-scale changes to his staff. After losing in Cleveland, the Broncos had one of their two prime windows to make an in-season change, considering the extended off-period.
Paton analyzed the pros and cons of making an in-season change and chose to keep Vic Fangio in charge and Pat Shurmur as the team’s play-caller.
The Broncos’ general manager is sending clear messages to the players, coaches, and fans, but what he is conveying does not seem to be what many want to hear, though maybe it should be.
From the top-down, the Broncos believe they can still win this season. Paton is demonstrating he believes this staff and roster can turn the ship around and push towards a wild-card spot.
Additionally, Paton is expressing faith in Vic Fangio to make decisions. The first-year general manager’s leadership style is on full display. Paton provides his coaches with what they believe is necessary for success.
From the veteran quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater to the surplus of cornerbacks, which Fangio reportedly requested, Paton has delivered as any general manager should.
As the team pushes for playoff contention, most fans are calling for a complete rebuild.
Who is right? Both answers can be successfully argued.
Clearly, the Broncos are not in the class of the NFL’s elite. The likelihood of them making the playoffs diminishes each week. However, something can be said for a team having a “winning” mentality.
In the world of baseball, the National League Champion Atlanta Braves are a prime example of why you try and win each season.
The Braves were dead and buried before the MLB trade deadline. Yet, their general manager ignored the slew of injuries that mounted and made deals to help his team push towards contention. Now they find themselves four wins away from being world champions.
Unlike the MLB, NFL teams can rebuild in a matter of seasons. With high roster turnover and voidable contracts, the Broncos can remake their team in a bat of an eye. So, without remarkably one-sided offers for their contributors, the team may believe it is wise to hold on to their team for now.
If Paton does not trade any veterans away, those who sign elsewhere next offseason will contribute to the compensatory draft selection total. This may net the Broncos valuable draft compensation without actually dealing with their veterans during the season.
Next, the Broncos culture may be better off if the team continues to push for wins. A team used to losing needs to learn how to rise to the occasion with something on the line.
Finally, Paton is exhibiting restraint. This is a good trait to have in a general manager, providing a glimpse into how he will operate when the team hits a skid in the future. Refraining from making rash decisions, Paton is showing discipline in his approach and how he will handle this team in the years ahead.
Right or wrong, the plan seems to be to let this team and staff try and salvage this season and it starts by winning Sunday against the Washington Football Team.