It is amazing to think how much ground the Broncos have covered since the beginning of the 2011 season. In seemingly no time at all, they have gone from nostalgic champion to reborn contender.
Soak it up and savor every moment. Times like these only seem like they will last forever.
And it seems like forever since the Broncos have enjoyed this kind of success.
There is little doubt that signing Peyton Manning was the key move in catapulting the Broncos back into the ranks of NFL elite. Yes, in case you’re doubting, the Broncos are proving to be very much an elite team with each passing week.
Bringing Manning on board, however, has hardly been the only important move the Broncos have made since the end of last season.
How critical was the decision to sign veteran center Dan Koppen when he was available on September 11th? At the time, starter J.D. Walton was perfectly healthy. That changed dramatically when Walton suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the Raiders only 19 days later.
Broncos’ Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway had seized the opportunity to bring in the talented veteran, Koppen, and the move has paid huge dividends. Koppen had history with Broncos’ offensive line coach Dave Magazu going back to when Koppen played at Boston College and Magazu was on the Eagles’ coaching staff.
A little foresight saved quarterback Peyton Manning some anxious moments about who would play center when Walton went down.
“I think we all know John’s a competitive guy,” Manning said. “I don’t think he’s a guy that is going to sit on his hands and not make a move if he thinks something needs to be done. Whether it’s an injury here or a hole there or something just wasn’t happening. He’s gone out and made some moves. I think sometimes people don’t want to hear anybody else’s thoughts but I know John listened. If John hears a good idea and he agrees, he’s going to move on it and to me, that’s kind of working together as a team, if you will.”
Fast forward to October 11th. The Broncos were assigned 5’ 5” return man Trindon Holliday on waivers from the Texans. After an inauspicious start when he fumbled against the Chargers in his first game as a Bronco, Holliday has found the end zone in each of the last two games. He returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown two weeks ago against the Bengals and then took a punt 76 yards to the house in the win over the Panthers.
Teams try to sneak good players through waivers all the time. The Texans couldn’t get away with it.
“I think that’s what they were trying to do,” Holliday said. “They were trying to slide me through waivers and bring me back on the practice squad.”
The Broncos were lurking, scouring the wire in an effort to fill a need at kick/punt returner and improve their roster. They did both of those things in one fell swoop.
These are just two of the key moves the Broncos have made but by no means are they the only ones. Let’s not forget, they brought in other veterans such as linebacker Keith Brooking and safety Jim Leonhard. And that’s to say nothing of the quality drafts they’ve had the last two seasons.
Thanks in large part to consistently making excellent personnel moves, the Broncos’ time in the football wilderness is ending. Now all they have to do is find the Holy Grail in the Promised Land of the playoffs. No doubt they have a lot of work to do to make that happen this year.
But I certainly wouldn’t put it past them.
How far can the Broncos go this year? Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.
Tags: Mike Rice