“Better now than later, I say. Better for the fans. Better for the team. Not only do the Broncos now have a better perspective on how they might be beaten when the chips are down, Broncos Country now knows to adjust expectations.”
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If you’re like me you made mad preparations for the Super Bowl last year. I thought about that game for two full weeks and made sure that I was beyond prepared to enjoy it. My big chair was positioned just to in front of my good HD set, I had a cooler at an arms reach and a dining room table stocked with every kind of football goodie I could possibly require. I didn’t host a party nor did I attend one. I didn’t head for the bar. But I had plans to go out and raise hell after the game was over to celebrate a championship with all of Broncos Country.
We all know how that worked out.
Denver had lost three games in the 2013 regular season, each by a touchdown or less. Nobody had any reason to suspect that they would not be competitive in the Super Bowl. Certainly the Broncos themselves could not have imagined the 43-8 drubbing they wound up taking at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. Nothing had happened to them through the course of the regular season to alert them to the possibility that they could, if they weren’t careful, get positively manhandled by another NFL team.
The 2013 Broncos smashed every offensive record imaginable en route to a 13-3 record then cruised through the playoffs on their way to an AFC Championship. While they faced losses, they never faced real adversity like that that they faced on Sunday in St Louis. Not until the Super Bowl, anyway. At no point did the Broncos look themselves in the mirror and say “You know what? We’re beatable.”
The 2014 are certainly very beatable. And we saw plenty of evidence of that not just this week against the Rams, but in the early stages of last week’s game in Oakland. They’re getting off to slow starts, struggling to run the ball, looking lost and showing weakness along the offensive line. Peyton Manning for all his greatness is beginning to show his age. He’s immobile and cantankerous and he’s panicky when plays break down. Number eighteen has been failing to spot open receivers and forcing balls into coverage. He has been intercepted four times in two games.
It’s not just Manning’s play that has been questionable. The whole damn team seems fat and happy. It lacks toughness, drive and devotion. That starts with the coaching staff. Everybody associated with the Denver Broncos has a ton of work to do if Denver is going to advance in the playoffs, much less return to the Super Bowl. After eleven weeks the Broncos have lost as many games as they did all of last season. They’re no longer in control of the AFC. The Patriots are. And even the Chiefs seem in better position to win the West than the Broncos are.
This is adversity.
Better now than later, I say. Better for the fans. Better for the team. Not only do the Broncos now have a better perspective on how they might be beaten when the chips are down, Broncos Country now knows to adjust expectations. We won’t have the rug pulled out from under us the way we did last year. No surprises. Whether the Broncos lose on the road in the Wild Card game or win it all or find their fate somewhere in between nobody will be shocked now. We can’t expect them to win anymore. We have to accept that the window may have closed for them and that the Manning era may not end in glory the way we hoped.
Having had a chance to take a deep breath after Sunday’s loss to the Rams Broncos fans should embrace feeling like normal people again. Normal people don’t take it for granted that their team is going all the way. Normal people live week to week. One game at a time, as coaches like to say. The loss to the Rams stunk – but it came at a perfect time – both for the Broncos and for us. The team can now reevaluate before it’s too late and we can all reset for the rest of the season realizing that the dream may be over.