SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07: Denver Broncos general manager John Elway holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - OK, John Elway, that’s enough time.
About that offense. Ever since Elway made the transformation from superstar quarterback to successful football executive, he’s only had eyes for the defense.
In the first round of the draft, anyway. Elway has had five drafts since he became general manager in 2011. His first player taken was a defensive player each time.
Von Miller in 2011; Derek Wolfe in 2012; Sylvester Williams in 2013; Bradley Roby in 2014; Shane Ray in 2015.
The Denver Broncos lopsided on the offensive side in 2012 and 2013, was all defense while winning Super Bowl 50 in 2015.
Gotta go offense now, right John?
“We’ll see,’’ Elway said. “If there’s a good pass rusher there I’m taking him.’’
Good luck, quarterback opponents on the Broncos’ 2016 schedule. Apparently, no one appreciates what a pass rusher can do for a team like a former quarterback.The Broncos, by the way, will pick No. 31, or last in the first round. There are only 31 selections because New England forfeited its first-round pick as part of its #Deflategate penalties.
Offensive line comes through
In the modern-era of NFL parity, every team has flaws, even the champs. Did the Broncos just win the Super Bowl with an offensive line that was critically persecuted from beginning to end this season?
Khalil Mack may have trouble believing this, but is the truth: Michael Schofield is the NFL’s only Super Bowl-champion right tackle.
The offensive line that was a mix of veteran journeymen (Ryan Harris, Evan Mathis, Tyler Polumbus) and youth with zero NFL experience prior to this season (Matt Paradis, Max Garcia, Schofield,Ty Sambrailo) managed to get it done.
Get off their collective backs, already.
“It’s part of the game,’’ right guard Louis Vasquez said. “But we’re here. Apparently we were good enough. We had some struggles, no doubt. We hung together. We’re brothers upfront. We believed in each other. Proof is in the pudding.”
Some teams didn’t advance because of kicker meltdowns (Hello, Minnesota.) Who would have thought after watching Brandon McManus last season that the Broncos weren’t one of those teams?
McManus was not only consistent all season, he was 10 of 10 in field goals and 3 of 3 in 33-yard extra points – including making all three field goals and his extra point try in the Super Bowl.
That’s a little too lopsided on the field goal side, but that’s not the point here. The point is McManus became a clutch kicker by making a less-is-more adjustment in his technique.
“I went from a 2 ½-step kicker to a 2-step kicker,’’ McManus said. “To eliminate that half step was very helpful with how my plant leg was going to be. When I eliminated that I was able to have a very consistent approach to the ball and it really worked out well for me this year.”
Not Kony’s fault
Von Miller was the Super Bowl 50 MVP but he might have been the game’s second best player. Carolina’s Kony Ealy was almost unstoppable.
Miller had 2.5 sacks, Ealy had three sacks. Miller forced two fumbles that led to touchdowns. Ealy had an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Ealy was teammates with Broncos first round draft pick Shane Ray at Missouri. Ealy was selected by the Panthers in the second round of the 2014 draft; Ray was the Broncos’ first-round draft pick in 2015.
“Even though they lost, I’m proud of my brother, he balled all game long,” Ray said. “He had an MVP caliber game. He just was on the wrong team. But from a brother from Mizzou? I’m proud of him.’’
(© 2016 KUSA)