“I’m not sure about this new scheme. It’s pretty basic, nothing but man-to-man coverage on every play. I hate playing in it and so does everyone else on the roster. If we don’t change something, we’re going to get smoked.”
Remember that gem from training camp 2017, when the Broncos defensive players were questioning the system being implemented by new defensive coordinator Joe Woods?
“This guy is nothing but a journeyman; there’s a reason he’s bounced around from team to team on a yearly basis. At some point, if we’re serious about being a contender, we need to get an NFL quarterback back in here.”
Who can forget that beauty from last year’s OTAs, when Denver’s offense was being turned over to Case Keenum and everyone was questioning whether or not the free-agent acquisition was capable of being an every-week starter?
“To be honest, we’re in disarray. Mixed messages. Coaches undermining each other. Players going rogue and doing whatever they want. I haven’t seen a mess like this at any point during my pro career. Heck, I haven’t seen anything like this in high school or college.”
Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that veteran players, especially those who had been a part of the Super Bowl 50 roster, were sounding the alarms about the Vance Joseph regime, trying to tell anyone who would listen that he was going to be a disastrous head coach?
Those quotes don’t ring a bell? They aren’t haunting every waking moment, serving as a reminder of wasted seasons?
Well, that makes two of us. That’s because they were never uttered. In fact, the exact opposite was said during past Broncos OTAs and training camps.
Two years ago, we heard how Joseph was a “leader of men” and was just what the doctor ordered after Gary Kubiak was forced into early retirement by health problems. At the same time, we were told that it was a bummer to lose defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, but the Broncos couldn’t afford to risk losing a “rising star” like Woods to another team so they had to promote him and let the architect of a championship defense move on to greener pastures.
Both were nothing more that sheer poppycock. Absolute balderdash in its finest form.
And then last season, after two years of being told that Trevor Siemian was a competent NFL quarterback, everyone was suddenly fed the narrative that Keenum was the cure for all that ailed the Broncos. He was the $30 million man, ready to provide a steadying influence to Denver’s offense that had been missing since Peyton Manning walked out the doors at Dove Valley.
Poppycock and balderdash are too kind of words to describe that bunch of nonsense. Watch “The Wolf of Wall Street” for language that is more appropriate.
That’s why the superlatives being uttered the past few weeks at Dove Valley should be taken with a giant grain of salt. Glowing reviews are the norm this time of year.
Everyone loves Vic Fangio’s defense, thankful to finally be unleashed in an aggressive defense.
“I’ve fallen in love with this defense,” Derek Wolfe beamed after a recent practice. “Last time I felt this way was when I was introduced to Wade’s defense. It was almost like I was born to play this defense.”
Of course, everyone is still waiting for a defensive player to describe a new defensive coach’s philosophy as “passive” when implementing a new scheme.
Everyone loves Rich Scangarello’s offense, happy to play in a system where plays build upon plays and there’s a method to the madness.
“It’s amazing, every play has a reason,” wide receiver Courtland Sutton said last week. “Every play has something that goes with it. That’s the thing I’m really excited about. Being able to be in (this) offense, I’m really excited because not only our receivers, but our tight ends and our running backs are going to see some success.”
It’s hard to remember a team that didn’t go into a season thinking their X’s and O’s were a work of art.
And everyone loves Joe Flacco, thrilled to be playing with a guy who can make every throw, has the swagger of a big-time quarterback and knows what it’s like to play in big games.
“He’s such a cool guy,” said running back Devontae Booker last week after OTAs. “He talks to everybody in the locker room. Previous QBs didn’t do that; they’d just be on the field and get the job done; we’d see each other walking through the halls and (they) wouldn’t even acknowledge us. Flacco is a pretty cool guy.”
That being said, there haven’t been a lot of examples in recent memory when the new signal caller wasn’t a breath of fresh air.
Does this sound a bit cynical? Sure. But not everything being said by the Broncos is totally false; there are some truths within their statements.
Without a doubt, Fangio should be a better head coach than Joseph; that’s a low bar. It’ll be difficult for Scangarello’s offense to be worse than the one fielded by Mike McCoy or Bill Musgrave; those could induce insomnia on a weekly basis. And it’ll be shocking if Flacco isn’t better than Siemian, Keenum, Brock Osweiler or Paxton Lynch; it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where the proven NFL veteran couldn’t outplay that quartet of misfits.
However, it’s still important to pump the brakes a bit at this point in the process. It’s June. There’s a lot that still needs to be determined, when the action is live during the regular season as opposed to scripted during OTAs and minicamps.
Fangio has never been a head coach. Scangarello has never been an offensive coordinator. And Flacco got beat out by Lamar Jackson.
In the past two years, Broncos Country has been told that Vance Joseph, Mike McCoy / Bill Musgrave and Trevor Siemian / Case Keenum were the perfect men for the jobs that faced them. And given that they were all a colossal failure, it’s fair to take a wait-and-see attitude with the latest crops of saviors to roll into the Mile High City.
Ignore the praise-filled quotes coming out of Dove Valley. Instead, pay attention to the results on the field.
If the past three years have taught Broncos fans anything, it’s that talk is cheap. That’s why Fangio, Scangarello and Flacco have to prove it on the field in order to earn the superlatives being thrown their way in recent weeks.
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