DENVER — As a player, John Elway knew how to pick opposing defenses apart. On Friday night, as an executive, Elway showed he knows how to pick apart his own team.
At the Denver Broncos 2017 Ring of Fame Pillar Unveiling, when asked what he attributes his team’s recent struggles to, the Broncos’ general manager held nothing back, saying, “I think we got a little bit soft.”
“To be dead honest with you, we got a little bit soft,” he added. “We went 4-0 in preseason. We started out 3-1, we get a bye week—if you exhale in this league, you’re in trouble. To be dead honest with you, I think we exhaled. It’s hard to recover from that. It will be a lesson that hopefully we all learn and prevent from happening in the future.”
The eye-opening comments from the franchise’s figurehead come as the 3-6 Broncos currently ride a five-game losing streak. As the losses have piled up, criticism of the team has grown throughout the country, but in recent weeks it has also surfaced in the Broncos’ own building with multiple players sharing sentiment to the likes of, “we’re just not very good.”
Not only have the Broncos dropped their last five, they’ve lost six of their past seven. This, however, isn’t what bothers Elway the most about this season.
“The way that we’ve lost these games has been the most disappointing thing,” he said, continuing to be “dead honest” with the media. “You’re going to lose football games in this league, but the way that it’s gone about and not being competitive is probably what concerns me the most.”
As for the man leading Elway’s “soft” team, head coach Vance Joseph, Elway has not lost confidence in him, attributing the struggles across the board to “growing pains” and adding that the rookie head coach “has done a nice job.”
“There are going to be growing pains as a head coach, especially as a first-time head coach as well as the youth on the staff when it comes to coordinators, too,” Elway said, backing the staff he orchestrated less than a year ago. “There is growing pains there just like with players. You’ve got to give them a chance to grow and get better and learn from certain situations. Obviously, it’s been a little bit of a tougher situation, but sometimes you learn a lot more in tougher situations than when things are going good. Vance, in my mind, is doing just fine and continues to get the guys to play hard. The energy is still there. We’ll work our way through it.”
The Broncos will hope to get that work started when the welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to Mile High on Sunday.