Why Can’t Hall-of-Fame QB John Elway Find One for the Broncos?

Elway took over as executive vice president of football operations in Denver in 2011

Why Can't Former QB John Elway Find One for the Broncos?
Broncos GM John Elway on the sidelines. (Justin Casterline/Getty)
Getty Images

John Elway, who quarterbacked the Broncos to two Super Bowl wins and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004, took over as general manager and executive vice president of football operations in Denver in January of 2011.

With Elway running the show, the Broncos made the playoff for five straight seasons, going to the Super Bowl twice and winning it once (Super Bowl 50 over the Panthers). Since then, the Broncos failed to qualify for the postseason in three straight seasons and appear headed for their fourth consecutive playoff-less campaign as the team sits at 3-6 in the competitive AFC West.

The biggest reason the Broncos had success in the first five seasons with Elway at the helm was that Peyton Manning, who he convinced to come to Denver after being released by the Colts, was their quarterback for four of them.

Since then, the starting QB job for Denver has been a revolving carousel of mediocre to below-average players: Brock Osweiler (11 starts), Trevor Siemian (24 starts), Paxton Lynch (4 starts), Case Keenum (16 starts), Joe Flacco (8 starts) and Brandon Allen (1 start).

Elway’s quarterback pick in the second round of the 2019 draft, Drew Lock, has yet to take the field this season. That may be a good thing as he has all the makings of a bust-in-the-making such as other Elway picks Siemian and Lynch. 

So why has Elway struggled so much to replace Manning? The Guardian’s Oliver Connolly poses a theory:

“Elway’s reputation has taken a battering among self-proclaimed smart thinkers. He’s become the guy who loves tall, white, big-armed plodders who struggle to throw passes to teammates, but do so with a pretty spiral. An inaccurate quarterback is like a one-legged man: he will always be that way. Elway has taken on all the negative clichés of the old-school scout who prioritizes jawlines and hand size over advanced metrics.”

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