Elway’s Failures

Last week on the podcast, Matt and I debated John Elway’s standing as the GM/President of Football operations.  Matt then proceeded to write an article titled, ‘The Case for John Elway, President of Football’

 Does that sound as objective to you as does to me?  Ok, great.  I’m glad we’re on the same page here.

 To summarize, Matt [an Elway homer] believes that Elway has done a tremendous job and should be lauded for putting together one of the greatest defenses of our generation, making 2 Super Bowl appearances and winning 1 (Super Bowl 50).  He explains how Elway took a 4-12 team and in one season, turned them around to an 8-8 playoff team (lead by Matt’s favorite quarterback, Tim Tebow).  Following that season, Elway (along with every franchise aside from New England, Green Bay & New Orleans) recruited Peyton Manning [successfully] which capped a 4-year run of 2 Super Bowl appearances, 1 championship and a win/loss record of 50-14.  

 Now, given all that information, one would think that I’m off-base with my opinion.  I’m not.  Please, allow me to explain.

 My belief is that while Elway deserves credit for constructing a once-in-a-generation defense, he also deserves blame for wasting that defense by not preparing for the future at the quarterback position.  You know, the position that he had been praised to hills (by the mainstream sports media) for understanding better than anyone and the position that (at the time) was currently occupied by the great but decrepit Manning

 Matt began his article last week by writing that, “…Elway should be promoted to President… of all of Football”.   Enclosed, you will see that Matt’s giant crush on Elway has blinded him from ever being able to have an objective take on this subject.    

 Since Elway has been GM, these have been his first round picks; Von Miller, Sylvester Williams, Bradley Roby, Shane Ray, Paxton Lynch, and Garett Bolles.  Four out of the six are defensive players, Lynch is a quarterback and Bolles is an offensive tackle.  Aside from Miller, none of those players have made a pro-bowl or been selected as an all-pro.  Williams is no longer with the team (currently on the Lions) and Lynch has yet to take the field as a starter.  So for a quick recap, in his seven years as GM, Elway has drafted one pro-bowl caliber player in the first round; but wait, it gets better.  Out of his entire 54 selections, Miller and Tight-End Julius Thomas (no longer on the team) are the only players to be selected to the pro bowl or receive all-pro honors.

 Now, here’s the fun part.  Let’s look at the quarterbacks Elway has drafted since becoming GM; Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, Chad Kelly and Brock Osweiler.  Between the four of them, they have a 22-21 record [as starters] and thrown 49 touchdowns with 44 interceptions.  Here are a few of the quarterbacks Elway could’ve drafted instead of those previously mentioned superstars; Super Bowl Champion Russell Wilson [who beat Elway’s Broncos], Super Bowl Champion/Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, and Kirk Cousins.  Those three quarterbacks have a combined record of 113-77-1 while throwing for 321 touchdowns to 140 interceptions.

I may not be the greatest at math but there seems to be some discrepancy here.  The quarterbacks whom Elway passed on threw for almost triple the amount of touchdowns and less than double the amount of interceptions as those he drafted.  Not to mention the 3 Super Bowl appearances and 2 Super Bowl titles amongst those three compared to the 0 from Elway’s selection(s) (technically, Osweiler & Siemian got Super Bowl ring(s) for being the 2nd & 3rd string quarterbacks during Super Bowl 50). 

 While there’s no guarantee that the overlooked quarterback would’ve captured Super Bowl championships with the Broncos, they would’ve fared much better than the putrid excuses of quarterback the great Elway drafted during his tenure.  Since Manning’s retirement, the Broncos have missed the playoffs every year and wasted arguably the best defense in the league. 

 Matt can list Elway’s winning percentage (64%), win/loss record (72-40), and 2 Super Bowl appearances as a reason to keep Elway but I don’t believe that’s enough.  What Matt keeps overlooking and/or ignoring is two-fold.  The first is Elway’s failure as a quarterback evaluator, and the second, is his overall evaluation of talent.

 The Broncos had a team that went from 12-4 with a Super Bowl victory to 9-7 and missing the playoffs.  The only position that changed from those years was quarterback.  Therefore, had Elway done his job properly and drafted a competent quarterback, it’s safe to say this team would still be a top AFC contender.  Furthermore, had Elway actually drafted players of consequence and not wasted draft picks to trade up and a get a once-in-a-generation bust like Paxton Lynch; the Broncos would be in a much better position heading into next season.

So, to close.  Elway is not the great GM that my co-host would like you to believe nor does he have any right to be the commissioner of the NFL.


*Be sure to check out next week’s podcast [Lavallee Sports Take Podcast] as Matt & I continue this discussion