Chris Hall of DenverBroncos.com sat down with Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway for the latest episode of Elway Access on Wednesday afternoon.
The week of preparation for Sunday’s Week 17 finale against AFC West rival Kansas City was briefly interrupted for a celebration of Wednesday’s news that a handful of Broncos have been named to the Pro Bowl. Quarterback Peyton Manning, cornerback Champ Bailey and linebacker Von Miller were named starters on the AFC all-star team, which will participate in the 2013 Pro Bowl on Jan. 27. In addition to the three starters, tackle Ryan Clady and defensive end Elvis Dumervil also made the team. Wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, guards Zane Beadles and Chris Kuper, punter Britton Colquitt and special-teamer David Bruton were named alternates.
“It’s always great,” Elway said. “I think that as a player, it’s always nice to get that recognition from the coaches as well as the players. My congratulations go out to those five guys as well as (the alternates). You always look at it, we always get biased and think that we should have had more guys on the team, but it’s nice to have those five guys get that recognition and then DT being a first alternate. It’s a great thing for them and they will represent the Denver Broncos very well.”
The appearance marks trip No. 12 for both Manning and Bailey. Including those two, only 10 players in NFL history have ever been named to that many Pro Bowls. They join a list including current Hall-of-Famers Jerry Rice and Reggie White and a pair of current players who are also likely to be enshrined in Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
“Two special guys right there,” Elway said. “When you talk about players and the greatness of players, you look at Champ and you look at Peyton. For them to be elected to another Pro Bowl, I think it just goes to show you how great their careers have been. Obviously they’re on a direct path to Canton.”
With the playoffs around the corner, Elway said he is hopeful that the announcement will be followed by more good news in the weeks to come.
“We’re just thrilled that they’re on our team and hopefully this is just kind of a kickstart for us and we can use this momentum and carry it on into the playoffs and get the ultimate goal,” Elway said.
With just one game remaining before the start of the playoffs, the Broncos still have a chance at the No. 1 seed in the AFC bracket. A Denver win and a loss by Houston would give the Broncos home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. But regardless of how the Texans fare in their season finale against the Colts, Denver needs a victory to secure the No. 2 seed, which would mean a first-round bye.
In the Broncos’ most recent win, one of the highlights was a swarming pass rush down the stretch. Denver finished the afternoon with six sacks thanks to three quarterback takedowns in the final 15 minutes.
“(Defensive Coordinator) Jack (Del Rio) stayed after them late and really turned up the gas,” Elway said. “The defense has just continued to get better week in and week out as we get a lead on the offensive side. We were able to turn those pass rushers loose and do a lot of different things with blitz packages, plus turning Von loose and letting him go after it. It’s really fun to watch.”
To listen to the full episode of Elway Access, complete with Elway’s thoughts on the 34-12 win over the Cleveland Browns and Miller’s 17.5th sack, which set a new Broncos single-season record for sacks in a season, click here.