Welcome to the 92nd edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where the holidays are over, the Broncos’ season is over, the college football season is over, the weather is crappy, and March Madness is more than two months away. What a depressing intro! Let’s get into it…
John Fox’s last game with the Denver Broncos was a disaster. Playing at home against an inferior Colts team, the heavily favored Broncos were dismantled and lost convincingly, 24-13. They were lucky it was that close.
In the 2013 season, the Broncos appeared to be the best team in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. They made it to the Super Bowl fairly easily. Their performance in the Super Bowl was a disaster. They were outplayed, outcoached, and completely unprepared for sport’s biggest stage. They were blown out by the Seahawks 43-8.
In the 2012 season, the Broncos rolled into the playoffs as the AFC’s highest seed, again earning a first-round bye. They were heavy favorites at home. Again, they didn’t play well against an inferior team and saw yet another disastrous ending, blowing a late lead and losing to the Ravens in stunning, gut-wrenching double overtime.
For plenty of franchises in the sports world, the scenarios mentioned above would represent successful seasons. The Denver Broncos are not one of them. Not with John Elway running things.
We can talk all we want about Elway’s issues with the team’s preparation and mental toughness or the differing opinions on the changing offensive schemes, but the outcomes of those three games are the reason John Fox and John Elway told each other to get lost on Monday afternoon.
It had to be done.
John Fox coached the Broncos for four years, compiling a 46-18 regular season record. He went 38-10 post-Tebow. But those gaudy numbers will always ring hollow because of the way the team performed in the playoffs, where two home field faceplants sandwich an embarrassing Super Bowl appearance.
Let’s talk a little more about the most recent faceplant.
The Broncos started the game by forcing a three-and-out. Then they marched the down the field for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. It was all downhill from there. The Broncos did not find the end zone again. The Broncos’ next seven drives– against a very mediocre defense– ended like this: Punt, Fumble, Punt, Punt, Field Goal, Punt, Punt. Remember that high-powered, intimidating, record-breaking offense with an unstopabble array of weapons? Me neither.
The Broncos’ offensive game plan on Sunday appeared to be: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
When that idea failed, they simply had their quarterback, who couldn’t really throw, repeatedly chuck the ball down the field, hopefully in the general vicinity of a receiver. It worked zero times.
By the end of the afternoon, the Broncos looked tired. They looked unenthused. They looked anxious to call it a year and go home.
This game felt like the end of an era. On Monday, we learned it was, indeed, the end of the John Fox era. But there is a greater feeling of finality and change beyond the coaching staff not returning. This game felt like the last time the Broncos can be looked at as perennial Super Bowl contenders. Over the past three years, we’ve grown accustomed to the Broncos being one of a handful of favorites to win the Super Bowl. Before the season, we could look at the schedule and easily pick out twelve or thirteen games the Broncos should win. Those days are over. At least, they certainly appear to be.
Of course, much of the reason for this outlook is due to the play of Peyton Manning on Sunday and in the regular season’s last few weeks. He just wasn’t the same guy. Never was this more apparent than on Sunday when the Broncos’ offense repeatedly stalled after several poor throws from Manning.
Then Monday also brought the reports that Manning was playing on a torn/strained/tweaked/hurt/injured right quad. Is that why Manning didn’t play that well? Or is that just a convenient excuse? Did we all just witness the end of Manning’s incredible career?
These are all questions Elway and Manning will need to try to figure out, preferably sooner than later.
So aside from needing a new coaching staff, the Broncos don’t really know what they have coming back at quarterback. Even when Manning decides to make it official and play another season (I think he will), the Broncos still won’t know exactly what they have at quarterback for the next year or two. That’s not an ideal situation to be in.
In the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, a handful of teams feel really good about their quarterback, a handful of teams have a “pretty good” quarterback, and a bunch of teams have a crap quarterback. The past few years, the Broncos have been among the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE’s best teams because they’ve had a great quarterback. If Manning has devolved into a “pretty good” quarterback (or worse) the Broncos, as a team will also inevitably fall back to the pack, a place they haven’t been since the Tebow days of 2011.
John Elway has “won free agency” a few years in a row. And for the third year in a row, Elway, Fox, and Manning have failed to win on the field in the playoffs. Another year has come and gone and with it, another opportunity to win the Super Bowl.
I’m afraid that might have been the last one for a while.
Off to the weekly departments…
Tweets of the week:
Roy Halladay’s picture is pretty hilarious:
Vines of the week:
Colorado State and Air Force threw down. It started with this headlock and girly punch to the back:
(Here’s the full video.)
Look at the Hawks’ bench celebrating before Korver even shoots it:
And I just keep laughing at Puddles’ dramatic entrance last night:
Photo of the Week:
Beautiful, unique picture from last night’s national championship.
A couple links worth sharing (lots this week!):
- Speaking of Rams basketball, I also really enjoyed Paul Klee’s profile of Larry Eustachy.
- S.L. Price with a long, great profile of John Elway. (This was more enjoyable prior to Sunday afternoon.)
- Dan Wetzel dropped a couple of whoopers this week. First this profile of a 33-year-old Green Beret in the U.S. Army, Texas long snapper, and NFL hopeful.
- Second, this profile of the replacement referee that called the infamous “Fail Mary” play. That moment ruined his entire life. Very sad story here.
- And Michael Rosenberg breaks down the bogus Mueller Report and Roger Goddell’s lies in plain English.
Some other stuff the internet had to offer this week:
Just a nice, relaxing drive on the city bus.
I always knew public transportation wasn’t for me.
Kenny Mayne‘s tribute to Stuart Scott was touching:
And finally, the college football version of Jimmy Kimmell’s “Mean Tweets” segment is absolutely awesome.
Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.
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