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Published on 01/14/2013 at Mon Jan 14 09:40.
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Elway and Manning in defeat.

Well, the dust has settled, and reality is starting to creep its ugly head into our minds. I’m still not sure I believe what my eyes showed me Saturday night, but I’m willing to start believing that I’m not stuck in a 2 day long nightmare, and what transpired on the field really did happen. In a game full of head scratching penalties, non-penalties, and play calls, where should the Broncos go from here? Is this 1996 all over again? Will we rip off 2 straight Super Bowls like we did back then? This is my list of things I’d like to see happen.

#1: Apologize to Peyton Manning and Trindon Freaking Holliday. John Fox needs to put his ego aside and have a meeting with Peyton Manning to say that he is sorry and will never, ever, ever tell him to take a knee at the end of the game with 31 seconds left, 2 timeouts, and only needing 35 or so yards for a realistic FG attempt as time expires for the win IN THE PLAYOFFS!!! We heard Fox defend his decision to have Manning kneel by saying that you don’t want to make mistakes that cost you the game. My question is this, “why in the $%^& did you get Peyton Manning in the first place if you aren’t willing to put the game and your faith in him when the chips are down and you need to make a few plays?”And what about Trindon Freaking Holliday? What a beast he is!!! My goodness, if there was one player who really showed up for this game, it was Holliday. Without him, how does this game go? Its easy to say that we’d get blown out without him, but in all honesty, we have no idea how those 2 offensive drives we didn’t have would have turned out. We very well could have scored TDs on both of those drives anyways. But one thing is for sure, even when Holliday didn’t touch the ball on kickoffs and punts, he greatly affected the game by his very presence on the field. We saw Baltimore squib kick it in order to keep the ball out of Holliday’s hands, even at the cost of field position. Trindon Holliday is owed a deeply heart felt apology!

#2: Elway needs to have a long talk with John Fox. The only way I think that John Fox should keep his job is if he agrees to be less conservative and more aggressive when the game is on the line. Look, John Fox has done a great job in turning this team and culture around, there’s no denying that fact; However, he is much too conservative than today’s NFL will allow. I can go back to his decision to have Manning take a knee and play for overtime, but there will be plenty more of that talk from all of us this offseason, but I want to talk about other aspects of conservatism. John Fox and Mike McCoy had a ridiculously conservative gameplan. They didn’t go down the field a single time the entire game! They allowed Flacco to look like the HOF QB, and resigned Manning to be nothing but a dink and dunk, hand the ball off a million times QB. In overtime after our Defense stopped the Ravens, what did the Broncos do? They played our prevent offense as if we were trying to run out the clock instead of needing to actually score to win the game. What did Fox call towards the end of the 4th quarter when the game was still in the balance? He ran the ball 3 times and took a whopping 30 seconds off the clock. Again, why sign Peyton Manning if you don’t trust him to pick up critical first downs to seal the victory in the playoffs? I’m sick and tired of Fox taking the ball out of Manning’s hands to close out games. I feel sorry for Manning because he is playing for a coach who thinks he’s more Trent Dilfer than Peyton Freaking Manning!!!

#3: Waive goodbye to Mike McCoy. Assuming McCoy didn’t cost himself head coaching jobs by his ridiculously bad gameplan, we should all give Mike McCoy a pat on his back as he packs his bags to take a head coaching gig somewhere. While John Fox is solely responsible for certain conservative calls such as taking the infamous knee, Mike McCoy called the entire game with some of the least creative, most conservative plays since 1980. He channeled his inner Dan Reeves by refused to allow Manning to be “Manning”, and instead, called this game as if we had Sammy “3 yards and a cloud of dust” Winder. John Elway hated Dan Reeves’ conservative play style back when he was a player, and I can only assume that he is equally sickened by that type of play style as an executive.

#4: The Offensive Coordinator Search Begins. Mike McCoy is surely gone, so who should we get as our new Offensive Coordinator? Even if he doesn’t take a head coaching job, should his services be retained? Should he stay here with the consideration being that he never again channels his inner Dan Reeves and instead opens up the offense? If indeed McCoy is shown the door, does that open up the opportunity for Tom Moore to seamlessly slide in? Would we promote Adam Gase? What should the Broncos do? If McCoy is gone, I’d love to see Moore come in as our Coordinator. If there’s one thing we know about Moore, it’s that he’ll allow Manning to be Manning, and he won’t be scared to put the game in Peyton’s hands with the game on the line. If Moore comes in, perhaps its with the agreement that he will call 100% of the plays, and make 100% of the offensive decisions, including whether or not we go for it on 4th down, or kneel at the end of the games. Will this take some of the head coaching aspects away from John Fox? Sure, but Fox is a really good head coach, but way too conservative. This would be a way to have the best of both worlds. The only way we can have our cake and eat it too would be to have the OC make 100% of the offensive decisions regardless of down & distance, or time left on the clock.

#5 Denver Broncos, you are now on the clock. It’s time to start looking at the NFL draft. We know that we will pick in the mid 20’s, so where do we look? Do we look to replace Champ Bailey who was woefully exposed as a player who lost a step? Or was that just an aberration? Do we look to upgrade our safeties? While I think Rahim “The Dream Crusher” Moore should remain our starter, should we look to upgrade from Mike Adams? Should we take the best middle linebacker available at our pick to eventually take over for a very old Keith Brooking? Do we target a slot wide receiver for the probably retiring Brandon Stokley? Do we put our running game in Knowshon Moreno’s hands, or do we look for a running back in the 2nd or 3rd round? I would trust Knowshon after what he showed us this year, but hey, I know that a lot of fans don’t (remnants of the McDaniels era amongst other things), and it’s up in the air whether the front office does either. Where do we look to upgrade? Do we look for a more dynamic tight end? More dynamic defensive or offensive linemen? Do we just take the best player who fits our system available? We are a 13-3 #1 seed team, so maybe we really do just take the best player who fits our system available. That does make a lot of sense.

Speak up BroncoTalk faithful. Where do you see this team going? What moves do you think they should make? Have your voice heard in the comments below.

  • Pete Baron

    I want Tom Moore hired and given 100% of the offensive game planning, calling, and decision making decisions. If Moore wants to go for it on 4th down, we go for it regardless of what Fox’s mentality is. If Moore wants us to try for a last second FG instead of kneeling for OT regardless of what Fox wants, we’ll attempt to get into field goal range.

    I’m sickened by Fox’s conservative ways. That might have worked in 1980, but it just doesn’t work in today’s NFL. The rules have changed in order to allow teams to score quickly and often, so when you have a coach wanting to squat on the ball and be super conservative, you’ll be at the losing end of the score more often than not because other teams will strike quickly while a Fox led team will drag their feet in the sand. DAMMIT I’m so pissed off right now! I put 99% of the blame on the coaching staff, and 1% on “The Dream Crusher”. If this coaching staff had any onions, The Dream Crusher is never put in that situation. DAMN YOU JOHN FOX AND MIKE MCCOY!!!! DAMN YOU!!!!

  • Aaron McFarland

    take the best player, that fits our system, we didn’t win 11 in a row and go 13-3 with a lucky team. This team has the components to win a Super Bowl, unfortunately one bad 70 yard play, made this game.

  • Fabio Thailandes

    I totally afree here…. it’s sad, but we have to let it go and think about our next moves.

  • Dave W. Cissell

    Time to blow it all up & start over, this team will NEVER win anything significant built the way it is. Manning should retire, Fox should definitely be fired, Bailey’s retirement is LONG overdue, Rahim Moore should get a career selling insurance. This was a nice experiment, sold some tickets, but the Ravens game exposed glaring flaws with this team

  • TheTroglodyte

    Honestly the loss didn’t surprise me. I expected a close game against a pretty solid Baltimore team with one of the best coaches in the league.

    We went on a big win streak and certainly improved but the fact is we really didn’t beat anyone good on that win streak. Beating Baltimore was our only major win and that was against an injured team that just wasn’t amped up in that game. It happens.

    What did shock me is how badly we were beat. We may have had the lead most of the game but it honestly felt like we were losing after Baltimore’s first score. It just never felt like we were in it to win it.

    Peyton Manning

    Fox and McCoy are getting all the heat for the poor play calling but let’s not forget P. Manning makes a lot of calls himself at the line of scrimmage. He even said in the post game interview about one play in particular that McCoy shouldn’t get heat for it because it was his audible.

    I don’t think the ultra conservative gameplan is Manning’s fault in the slightest but Decker and DT disappearing for long stretches at a time… yeah Manning 100% had something to do with that.

    I watched him do weird stuff like that with the Colts for years under Moore. Manning struggles to make good decisions in the playoffs. He feels too much pressure and wants it too bad.

    Peyton is what’s known as a “try hard”. He is trying so damn hard he screws himself up. You think there is any chance he makes that final int in a regular season game in the exact same circumstances? Hell no!

    Peyton can win us a SB but he needs more structure and better coaching around him to do it.

    John Fox

    Look, I never wanted Fox as our HC. I said when we got him he was the most conservative coach in the game and has player favorites like nobody I have ever seen before.

    That being said I don’t get the “Fire Fox” mentality that is sweeping Broncoland.

    Yes, if we had a great, proven head coach chomping at the bit to come to Denver, we pull that trigger. But we don’t. And we can’t go and fire Fox just to bring in some unproven guy to take over this team.

    What we need is the offensive gameplan being taken out of Fox’s hands.

    Tom Moore

    No! I can’t tell you how frustrating it was being a Colts fan and watching the Colts offense disintegrate year in and year out in the playoffs.

    I don’t care about the positive stats. Trust me when I say I can show you WAY more bad stats then you can show me positive stats.

    I actually watched the games. Every single one of them! I’m telling you what Peyton did with the Colts in the playoffs looked exactly like what he did yesterday or worse 90% of the time. He plays “ok” not “great” and the offense just never quite looks right.

    Denver fans seem to only remember how Peyton ripped through Denver’s secondary. They seem to forget how inexplicably bad he was the very next game, and how bad he has been in most playoff games because they haven’t watched him play them.

    If Tom Moore is in control of the offense, it will be Peyton Manning in control of the offense. And we will have another out of this world regular season and get smoked in the playoffs unless our defense saves the day like it did for the Colts when it overcame a string of some of the most atrocious QB play to be recorded in playoff history.

    Mike McCoy

    Good luck. I’m glad you are getting your opportunity and I hope you make the most of it.

    Rahim Moore

    As god awful as that play was why is everyone wanting to cut the guy over one play? That kid will never screw that up again. He was in tears after the game at his screw up. He’s made huge strides since last year and I bet he will be better next year.

    Champ Bailey

    Maybe it’s time to move him to safety. He played at a pretty elite level this year though so I think it’s premature to come to that conclusion unless next August he is clearly showing signs of slowing down. Two bad plays does not deserve having Bronco Nation ready to throw in the towel on the man.

  • Tyler

    I didn’t even finish reading this article… first time I could say that on Broncotalk in years. Any suggestion of firing John Fox after what he has done for this organization is the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard. He has improved this team dramatically across the board, offence, defense and special teams since we got rid of McDaniels. Should we release Manning because he threw a TERRIBLE interception in overtime to cost us the game as well? Lets drop Bailey and Moore too while we’re at it? This team went 13-3 with John Fox doing a fantastic job as our head coach, while putting his style of coaching into play. We won in week 15 against the Ravens with the same game plan and everyone was pumped. Elway would be stupid to ask him to coach any other way than what he’s proven can be successful and what he’s comfortable with. This is a classic example of when fans overreact to the let down of a season that had high expectations and why we are exactly that, just fans. The people in the Broncos facility, from Pat Bowlen to the coaches are level headed and will make the rational decisions that need to be made (or not made in this case) to move this team forward next year.

  • Aaron McFarland

    Are you drunk? We didn’t win 11 in a row, with a lucky…or a crappy team by the way you make them sound. Also Bailey in the 2nd half shut down Torrey Smith

  • Pete Baron

    Not to mention that in 1996, Shannon Sharpe as well as many, many fans felt the same way that Dave feels. Sharpe said that loss would set the team back a decade. Fans thought things needed to get blown up. Well, as it turns out, they were not only wrong, but shockingly wrong. The next 2 years, the Broncos blew up the NFL and won back to back championships. They would have arguably three-peated had Elway not retired.

    The facts of the matter is that this team is built to last for the next 2-3 years. Do there need to be tweaks? Absolutely, but those tweaks will happen anyways because of the draft and probable loss of McCoy. I think that if anything, this season will hurt the players so deeply that they’ll come out with a chip on their shoulders come next year and hopefully light up the NFL like it was 1998 all over again.

    With how today’s NFL is geared, Peyton Manning can play at an all pro level for the next 4+ years. Champ has been stellar all year, but he may start to need deep help if he’s up against a complete burner like Torrey Smith (and lets face it, not many teams have a guy like Torrey Smith). Moore won’t ever make that mistake again… like, ever. Fox needs to be chastised by Elway though. Fox is too conservative to fit into today’s game. Either Fox needs to grow a pair, or Elway needs to take some of the decision making away from Fox and shift it to the offensive coordinator (who if we get an aggressive coordinator like we should, would NEVER have Manning kneel with 31 seconds left, 2 timeouts, and only realistically needing 35 yards for a 62 yard attempt that Prater *can* make).

    But for anyone to say that this team needs to get blown up, they need to just relax. Nobody outside of the players and coaches themselves are as disappointing, pissed off, and embarrassed as I am, but to even suggest that things need to be blown up is just plain moronic (speaking to Dave, not you Aaron).

  • areferee

    Bronco fans are angry and frustrated.

    They are beyond disappointment from the
    tantalizing promise of a Super Bowl opportunity missed. (Some would say:

    Bronco fans are left feeling empty and
    looking to an uncertain future while, at the same time, they are resentful
    enough of a total team collapse, that they are looking to place blame. There
    are as many places with which to affix culpability in this one game as there
    were poor plays or decisions within it.

    It does no good whatsoever to place
    blame, because that can not affect what has happened. Every individual can make
    a physical mistake or make an error in judgment, whether you are a HOF
    quarterback or a relatively young safety.

    What is more significant, at least to this
    observer, is the overall performance of each individual and their total body of
    work. Considering a season of over-achievement, I would say we should have no

    What seems to matter more, and where we
    can more greatly affect the future and rise above being just a perennial
    Division winner, but become a constant force in the playoffs and a championship
    contender, is how to change from being systemically average. Upgrading manpower
    is always necessary… at every position. That will never change.

    What needs to change is more
    philosophical than physical.

    What must happen is changing from a fear of making
    mistakes and possibly losing, to one of demanding performance and not accepting
    anything other than striving for victory. It’s all about trying!

    Kneeling down, or pulling back and
    protecting your performance thus far is defeatist, and is a philosophy that will
    never lead to championships. If the clock does not read -ZERO- there is ALWAYS
    a chance to make something good happen. Not to act in fear of something bad
    happening is cowardice and prevents

    You don’t have to look far to find an
    example of that and how to change it. John Elway was never guilty of it, and it
    is he that will have to again step in and lead this team away from the
    philosophy of cowardice and toward the honor of winning or losing with
    everything left on the field of battle.

    That didn’t happen Saturday, and everyone
    knows it… especially John Elway.

  • Pete Baron

    Trog, my man, you are 100% on the money.
    Manning looked like he always has with the Colts in the playoffs. Even when they won the superbowl and he was named MVP, he didn’t deserve the MVP. I share all of your points with the exception of the Tom Moore one. Earlier when McCoy was talked about as being a head coaching candidate, I said I didn’t want Moore, but I have slowly changed my mind. I think he’d be great, and I think that unlike in Indy, Moore would realize that there is more to this team than Manning. I think that him knowing that the Colts lived and died at the hands of Manning playing lights out is what caused all those playoff gaffs. With Moore knowing that Manning simply has to be average to win in the playoffs, that we’d see a completely revitalized and rejuvenated Manning & Offense come playoff time.

    I already replied to a different guy where I said almost verbatim what you said about Rahim Moore. That dude will never in his life, ever make a stupid decision like that again. I’ve never heard a football player break down like that about 1 play in an interview before, which speaks to how badly he feels and how ardent he’ll be in making sure he never puts the team in that situation again.

    Champ was stellar this year, so like you, I don’t think he needs to be moved to safety unless like you said, next training camp, he shows considerable age. Not every team has a burner like Smith, so I’m still confident that Champ will be fine, and that the coaching staff will change the defense against teams that have a burner like Smith.

    We’ll have tweaks as all teams will. No team will ever have the exact same 53 man roster from year to year, and we certainly won’t be the exception. This team is built to last for quite a long time. We have fantastic youth and talent to go with our aging stars. I think we’ll be fine IF Fox grows some balls or Elway hires an aggressive play caller and gives the new OC 100% of the offensive playcalling and decision making (including whether to go for it on 4th downs or kneeling at end of games). Fox has shown in Carolina and here in Denver that he is incapable of fitting into todays NFL when it comes to those types of decisions, so however great of a head coach he is, he needs 100% of the offensive philosophy and play calling stripped from him.

  • Pete Baron

    Keep reading it. Nowhere do I say we need to fire Fox. Keep reading my man, cause that whole section is all about Fox keeping his job, but having his conservative philosophy and conservative decision making duties on offense taken away. I 100% think Fox should remain as our head coach, but I 100% believe that he’s too conservative for today’s NFL. The only “meeting in the middle” that I see resulting in a championship is to give 100% of the offensive philosophy, play calling, and decision making (including 4th downs and end of game kneeling) to the offensive coordinator.

  • TheTroglodyte

    Well said Pete!!! What you said about Tom Moore makes sense too. I’ll be a little more optimistic if we go that route now.

  • Gary_in_SD

    I completely agree with all of the points. However, I’m more upset about the 3rd and 7 running play over a pass to salt the game (Elway to Sharpe in 1997 AFC Championship game), than I am about taking it into OT with 30 seconds left. That would have required stretching the field in long bursts, which could have resulted in a pick. Especially as well as the Baltimore secondary was playing. Then plenty (not myself) would have second guessed Fox for throwing the game away.

    One area from here I would also look at would be to consider artificial turf. Peyton is used to it from Indy and it would cost a fraction of what it would cost to lose him to injury. Just a thought.

  • Pete Baron

    Peyton Manning said that that play was an audible, which is why I only grazed over it. That play call very well might have been designed as a slant to Stokley for 8 yards, but Manning saw something that made him think that a run was more capable… Either that, or he’s just shielding his coaching staff. Either way, I agree that running in that situation was a “give up” play. I’m also of the mindset that you put your trust in Peyton Manning to make a play when you need one. Why else do you go after him and sign him if you just want to take a knee and play for overtime? If you’re afraid that Peyton will throw a pick in the final 30 seconds when he has 2 timeouts and needs about 30-35 yards for a Prater FG attempt, then you might as well “fail” him on his physical that guarantees his 2nd year and move on.

  • TheTroglodyte

    I like it!

  • Brandon Kirk

    Everyone talks about running the ball in the 4th quarter and OT…did anyone see the throws Peyton was making? He was clearly having trouble gripping the ball. Everything was under thrown. It’s not PFM’s fault, it’s just the life of a QB 1 year removed from 4 neck surgeries. Give him another year of rehab and the team a year of playing together and we’ll be fine.

  • areferee

    Good job Sir Stalagmite. Firefox is a great browser but a lousy gameplan. A change of philosophy is called for, not a change in head coaches.

  • areferee

    I’m not sure about phony turf, Gary, but I have never seen our field look worse. It was a mess. Reminded me a little of the crap in DC.

  • TheTroglodyte


  • TheTroglodyte

    That unfortunately was just Peyton Manning playoff ball. He’s been throwing fine for the last 6 – 7 weeks all over the field, it didn’t just suddenly act up.

    I don’t care if it was acting up though. I don’t care if Peyton Manning told Fox he was scared and wanted to go home and snuggle in a blankie.

    We didn’t just hand him a 100 million contract so he can hand it off when we need a first PFM down.

    I don’t care if Peyton wins the game or loses the game nearly as much as I care about him not playing aggressively trying to win.

  • mpakt

    What should be fired is the officiating crew. That was horrendous. Also no matter how Fox defends his decision, the kneel down is unexcusable.

  • anthony33

    Great post Trog… nuff said

  • anthony33

    Nice… as always

  • anthony33

    I think it’s time for every remotely cold weather NFL city to put in the new turf. It’s light years from the early stuff. Why not give every team the benefit of playing on a perfect field. Have not heard one complaint over the past 4-5 years.

  • anthony33

    Not sure how you change that in Manning. Mabye an OC that takes some of those decisions out of his hands? But then you don’t have Manning being Manning. Got to be a way to fix it, as I do think you are right.

  • jlivings

    I like the theory of giving someone else 100% responsibility, I just don’t know that an HC can just say carte blanche that the new OC would over rule the HC’s decision.

    What I’m trying to say is that I just don’t think that is ever going to happen, so it’s a moot point…

    I really don’t think Fox is the problem nor will he be the problem. The fact is we put up 35 pts in that game regardless (I guess you could argue 21 only, but who knows). The real problem in that game was our D. The same D that stepped up all year long, just completely CHOKED. Now you can argue whether it was poor scheme (a coaching problem) or bad execution (a player problem) on our D, but it’s still the D that was the bigger problem on saturday IMO…

    Yes, Fox was ultra conservative, and made some bad decisions, but we were 13-3 remember. I’m not worried about him, nor his playcalling. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with everyone who is saying he should be trusting Manning more at the end there, and being more aggressive on 3rd and short, etc., but, like I said, I just don’t think we should be focusing on him as a problem to fix.

  • jlivings

    Couldn’t agree more. We are really close. Really, really close. I still feel 8 out of 10 times we win that game. The pieces are here. Mostly.

  • areferee

    I imagine you’re right on, Ant. They used to tout our P.A.T. as state-of-the-art turf. Evidently, not any more.

  • Santiago Sanchez Urrutia

    I agree completely with Big Pete here. Bring in Tom Moore and unleash Peyton Manning! He won’t be in the active part of the league forever. Unleash him and help him bring in two other Lombardi trophies (ala Elway with Mike Shannahan). Retain the base team as it is. Maybe, if Stokley’s gone, bring in a slot receiver. I would strongly consider bringing in a solid RB, given the enormous help it gave Manning in having both McGahee and Moreno, but I’m not so sure McGahee will ever come back at 100%. He’s great, but his body is already battered enough by age and injury. I would strongly consider taking an overhaul to the secondary. Even though it has great players (I’m the greatest Champ Bailey fan), they cannot fit themselves with younger, faster receivers (i.e., Jacoby Jones). Make the centre of the defense stronger (add up a linebacker). Give the Von Doom duo some help in rushing the passer. If we want Denver to repeat success next season, we must find a way to defeat Manning’s nemesis, Brady. Don’t get me wrong. I think John Fox is a great head coach, but needs a sparkle in offensive planning. Go Broncos! I’ve believed in you since I was 4. I grew up with Craig Morton, John Elway, etc. Manning must feel proud to retire a Bronco, with two (or even three) more championship rings on his hands!

  • Kelly79

    I completely agree with this statement: “What needs to change is more philosophical than physical.”

    As much as I hate to give any credit/even merely acknowledge the existence of Bill Belichick, he provided an exceptionally appropriate sound byte in his weekly press conference before the Pats divisional win against the Texans. When asked what the Pats needed to do to win, he replied, “You don’t win a war by digging a foxhole and sitting in it. … You need to attack,”

    Now I hate watching the Pats offense overwhelm seemingly inept defenses as much as the next Bronco fan, but I really feel this “keep your foot on the gas” mentality is what keeps the Pats consistently sharp.

    I also feel that this change in philosophy or “team personality” if you will, must be a top-down shift. While I certainly feel that J. Fox did the team no favors with the overly conservative offensive game plan, not just during the fourth quarter, but throughout the entire divisional debacle, the comments J. Elway made at the most recent press conference may far more negatively impact the team moving forward.

    Perhaps J. Elway felt the the need to publicly support his now seemingly-embattled head coach in the wake of the die-hard Bronco nation’s outright disgust following Saturday’s nightmare. Truthfully, I hope that’s all it was. If a change in philosophy is to be made, it must start at the top. And that starts with P. Bowlen and J. Elway.

  • Gary_in_SD

    Look how well it works for Brady. I seriously doubt he would have wanted the same crappy sod in Gillette on Sunday.

  • LEMarkley

    The defense did not show up, and I don’t just mean the secondary. One sack, especially when Flacco was having to hold the ball long enough to let the deep route develop, is unacceptable. It is just truly frustrating that the team had such a bad game when it mattered most. I would have gladly taken a regular season meltdown against the browns or chiefs if it’s meant learning from that in the post season. Now we all have to wait a year to see if that lesson was learned.

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