I can’t speak for all of Broncos Country, but, when it comes to the current team, reality is setting in slowly.
They really are the top seed in the AFC. The road to the Super Bowl really does run through Mile High. Peyton Manning really is here and he really is playing incredibly well. Our assistants are hot head coaching candidates. Denver’s a top team in every phase of the game, offense defense and special teams.
This all happened rather quickly. It’s been dizzying, really. March 2012, when SUVs were chasing Peyton Manning down the highway and the local media was on a 24-hour a day signing watch, was not that very long ago. Eleven months ago we had no indication that the Hall-of-Fame QB was coming here. Ten months ago we had no idea whether or not he could throw. Five months ago we didn’t know if he could take a hit. Four major neck surgeries meant that, for all his legend, Manning might have been a major mistake.
The Broncos opened the season 2-3. There was talk in the media, both nationally and locally, of PFM’s wobbly passes and lack of confidence. Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports proclaimed that Manning was “toast”. Real doubts emerged as the Falcons, Texans and Patriots each handled Denver with relative ease.
Three months ago, the Broncos overcame a 24-0 first-half deficit versus the Chargers to score a 35-24 road win and improve to .500 on the season. They’ve not lost since. Eleven straight victories flew past like a blur. What was believed in the pre-season to be the NFL’s most harrowing regular-season schedule melded into what some folks now call a cake walk.
Is it any wonder that it has taken some time to reach the “acceptance” stage when it comes to the Denver Broncos?
The most optimistic of prognosticators would have been hard pressed to predict that they would finish the year 13-3 and holding all the cards entering the post-season? A Super Bowl appearance, once a wild dream, is now an expectation. Seeing Peyton Manning hoist his second Lombardi Trophy, his first in blue and orange, doesn’t seem the least bit unlikely. Moreover, the current season is only the first of five that Manning has signed on for. He’s not likely to play for more than four of those, but it’s not unreasonable to see the Broncos creating a dynasty in that time.
Once Manning finally does retire, Brock Osweiler will be ready to emerge. With the foundation that “the Johns”, Elway and Fox, have put in place, the success could easily continue. The Broncos are stacked with young talent on both sides of the ball and, under their current management, that will remain the case for many years to come. The future is so bright.
Three years ago, Eric Studesville had just finished limping through the last few games of the regular season as the interim head coach of a failing Broncos team. Josh McDaniels, who had been the least liked figure in the history of the franchise, had been relieved of his duties. The Denver Broncos were practically without a direction and the fans were defeated. As difficult as it was to come to terms with those dark days, some Broncos fans have had trouble accepting their current success. But reality is setting in … slowly.