Since NFL Free Agency began last week, many critics of the Denver Broncos have emphasized how foolish John Elway is for only planning for the 2014 season and not far beyond it.
They say the team may be supreme next season. But what happens after, when players like Von Miller, Terrence Knighton, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas all become free agents in 2015? What happens once Peyton Manning leaves?
My answer is: Who cares right now?
In 2012, the Broncos could have drafted a quarterback who would have potentially given the team success for many years to come. Instead, Manning, who is likely to play fewer than a total of five seasons with the team, was signed, and the team decided to forgo a great deal of preparation for the future.
Fans didn’t complain when the Broncos didn’t plan years ahead by signing Manning, so they shouldn’t complain now. When the Broncos signed Manning, it wasn’t an investment in the future. It was an investment in the present. Elway is simply going along with that philosophy this offseason.
After losing in January 2013 in the playoffs to the Baltimore Ravens, necessary changes were made to meet the team’s philosophy of “Super Bowl or Bust.” Well, the team made the Super Bowl this year, but fans were justifiably devastated when the Seattle Seahawks absolutely pummeled them. It became clear that changes needed to be made, especially to the defense.
Elway is doing just that.
With the signing of choice defensive players T.J. Ward, DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib, the defense next year could become the “Orange Crush” once again. With the signing of wideout Emmanuel Sanders, the team could have an even better No. 2 receiver than Eric Decker.
Fans wanted improvement, and they’re certainly getting it.
Elway is arguably one of, if not the, best General Managers in the NFL. It is crazy for fans to not put full faith in him. He knows what he’s doing. It’s as simple as that. He knew what he was doing when he signed Manning two offseasons ago, and he knew what he was doing when he signed Wes Welker last offseason. What makes this offseason any different?
Fans and critics alike may disagree on Elway’s handling of this year’s free agency, but what everyone agrees on is the team’s Super Bowl hopes lie with one player: Manning. With three seasons at most left with No. 18, it’s time to go all-in, and that’s exactly what Elway is doing.
When any great quarterback retires, teams understandably lose some key elements. When Manning retires, the Broncos might have one or two years of not being elite, but that’s a sacrifice fans should be willing to take.
For some teams, planning for the future is smart. Not for the Broncos. At least, not right now. The team’s philosophy is no longer “Super Bowl or Bust.” That’s not enough anymore. Next season, it’s “Super Bowl Win or Bust.” That is only possible with Elway’s strategic planning for the present.
None of this offseason’s criticisms will matter if the orange and blue hoist the Lombardi Trophy after next year’s Super Bowl, and with the recent free agent signings, this now seems more likely than ever.
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