At long last, the Denver offense can join the NFL revolution. The Broncos can get on with the business of firing back at division rivals Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and Philip Rivers in Los Angeles.
By embracing a modern offensive technology, the Broncos’ next QB can be Missouri’s Drew Lock, who at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds looks like your grandfather’s idea of a field general. Or, if the Broncos want to get wild and crazy, it could be Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, who’s built more like an NBA point guard.
Welcome to the future, Broncos. I think you’re going to like it.
What went down during the past 72 hours at Dove Valley headquarters seemed a little bizarre, because the team decided against what everyone in Broncos Country had assumed was a foregone conclusion. Newsflash: Kubiak won’t run the offense for new coach Vic Fangio.
And that’s a very good thing, unless you enjoyed snoozing on the sofa when a nap-inducing offense averaged 21.5 points per game during the two seasons Kubiak served as Denver’s head coach.
While putting the kibosh on Kubiak was a stunning development, maybe the real news is Fangio has been empowered more than Vance Joseph ever was as coach.
Although I never was sold on the idea of Kubiak returning as offensive coordinator, it did make sense to me to have him on the field to school young players in the fundamentals and serve as a sounding board for Fangio, a first-time head coach at age 60.
During his first day on the job in Denver, however, Fangio told us all: “If I have to lean on (my assistants) more than a few times, then I’m in trouble.”
In our best Scooby Doo voices, maybe all of us should have reacted to that warning from Fangio by saying: Rut ro.
Fangio is his own guy. He didn’t need Kubiak to tell him how to win football games.
The way Denver played to win Super Bowl 50? Well, the Broncos still believe in a strong defense. But their offense will no longer be stuck in the ’90s. Kubiak won’t be getting his band back together, and we no longer have to listen to “All the Small Things” by Blink-182 on a continuous loop.
Elway still loves Kubiak like a brother. But Elway loves winning more.
The last three seasons, which have seen Denver fail to qualify for a playoff game, much less win one, gnaw at Elway’s gut. What’s more, I can say with certainty the most iconic sports figure in Colorado history not only hears the criticism, it irritates Elway. In fact, the losses and the bashing might irritate Elway so much he’s willing to re-evaluate how the Broncos conduct their football business, from offensive schemes to talent evaluation.
How much is Elway willing to change in order to win? He refused to draft Russell Wilson in 2012, because the quarterback was too short. Does this mean Elway would now consider Murray in this year’s draft, or further embrace an offensive revolution by taking a strong look at Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 draft? Only time will tell.
But I do know Elway definitely loves Kubiak like a football brother. They arrived in Denver together as rookies way back in 1983, roomed together as Broncos teammates and won Super Bowl 50 together as middle-aged guys who had seen it all in this crazy game.
On the football field, however, I’m quite certain Elway is ultimately loyal to only one thing: winning. Maybe that’s why he grinds so hard on coaches. And that’s why Kubiak wasn’t going to install an offense as dull and dated as a 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass in training camp, just because he was Elway’s longtime buddy.
Kubiak is a man who intensely values and faithfully practices loyalty, a rare and admirable trait in the dog-eat-dog business of football. But he also can be stubborn to a fault and slow to embrace what’s next. And the last thing the Denver offense needed was to be stuck in second gear on the slow Sunday drives favored by Kubiak and sidekick Rick Dennison.
Elway not only listened to his new coach, he let Fangio do his thing. If Elway had insisted on Kubiak being the offensive coordinator, the Broncos would have been doomed to repeat the mistakes of their recent past.
Now, the Broncos can get on with the business of finding their quarterback of the future.
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