War of the Mile-High Roses: Who Is Really To Blame for Denver's Downfall?
For anyone who didn't see this coming, you should start paying more attention. This downward spiral and clusterf*ck of a train wreck known as The Denver Broncos started long before Jay Cutler was out of diapers and popping his finger back in at Vandy. But everyone will find a way to blame this all on Cutler.
Unfortunately, that is not the case this time around. This has been going on for quite sometime. Where the Broncos fail, the quarterback is to blame. But in this case, it is not just Jay Cutler's fault for the Misery of Mile High...there are several people involved.
With that said, I ask the question: Is it all Cutler...or were there other parties involved?
Let's take an in-depth look at the usual suspects that could be blamed for Cutler's departure from Broncos Country. From ownership to the players, everyone has had a hand in the outcome of this soap opera simply known as "War of the Mile High Roses."
Suspect #1) Pat Bowlen, Broncos Owner
In every situation that a bad quarterback is the center of a team's failure, people always wonder if management has a bigger hand in his future than they advertise. In Atlanta, Arthur Blank had this issue when Bobby Petrino and Michael Vick brought shame and disgrace to his beloved Falcons organization.
In the Broncos case, it starts with Pat Bowlen.
Since the Broncos won their two Super Bowl Championships after going 0-4 in the big game, people have seen less and less of Denver in the postseason. But the carousel of quarterbacks that have been in Denver is unmistakable.
Bowlen has tried his hardest to stand by his leading man, but it's hard to do that when every single one has a chip on his shoulder before they take their first snap. The pressure is obvious the moment they walk into Invesco Field at Mile High or the Broncos Practice Facility in Dove Valley.
But you have to keep with the pace, and in this case the next to blame is the coaching staff.
Suspect #2) Mike Shanahan, Former Broncos Coach
Wade Phillips. Dan Reeves. Mike Shanahan. What do these three men have in common? They all had to deal with the anarchy known as Pat Bowlen's ego.
As for Super Bowl victories? Well...
Wade Phillips couldn't do it here. Neither could Dan Reeves. But Mike Shanahan did it...twice. Mike Shanahan brought Denver an army of dangerous running backs. He managed to help Shannon Sharpe move one step closer to immortality. He also gave Rod Smith a reason to keep believing.
What did he get for his troubles? The Boot!
Despite having an impressive winning record as head coach, a plethora of division championships and several of his former players in the Hall of Fame, Mike Shanahan was given his walking papers last season after a season ending loss to division rivals San Diego. Since then, Mike Shanahan has gone under the radar.
But I'm sure that even Mike will have something to say about this situation with Jay Cutler.
But it's not just his fault...
Suspect #3) Josh McDaniels, New Broncos Coach
I don't know whether to call this guy a genius or an idiot. Instead of manning up and trying to make things work, he pulled an Andy Reid and sent one of his best players packing.
There are those close to the Broncos who feel that this was the best decision for both parties involved (both meaning Denver and Cutler). For dealing with the situation without getting choked out by Sprewell, he found him the best deal possible. For that, he is a genius.
So why is he an idiot? He could have gotten more.
McDaniels is a rookie coach. He has no head coaching experience. In the offseason, he wanted Matt Cassel because he molded both Brady and Cassel into the franchise quarterbacks that they are. But did he do Denver's QB wrong?
Absolutely...and absolutely not.
McDaniels isn't looking to rebuild...he was looking to reload. I am not sure how the Broncos Faithful will respond to Kyle Orton because we have seen this before. The Broncos embrace a new QB, the fans try to accept him, he chokes, they hate him and he's gone.
That's the life of an NFL player...but Denver has the curve in the discussion.
But is McDaniels the next big thing for Denver? Or is he just a stepping stone for what Pat Bowlen really wants?
Suspects #4 & #5) Brian Griese and Jake Plummer
After the Era of Elway ended, the Broncos were looking for an identity. To prove this, they parted ways with phenomenal backup Bubby Brister and placed their faith in Brian Griese.
In his first season as starter, Griese had some so-so numbers, but improved them the following season. He went on to play in the Pro Bowl in 2000, but thanks to constant injuries, "mediocre" arm strength and a failure to launch attitude, Griese was sent packing afterward and replaced by Arizona State standout and Arizona Cardinals gunslinger, Jake Plummer.
Since leaving Denver, Griese has gone on to become a little better than he was. He has gone on to play for Miami and Chicago before finding a permanent home in Tampa Bay with the Buccaneers. At this point, his record as a starter with the Bucs is 8-2.
Following Griese's tenure with the Broncos, Denver turned to the Desert to bring in high-profile quarterback Jake Plummer. Plummer had already proven himself as a winning quarterback when he earned his nickname "The Snake" during his time with Arizona State.
After finishing five seasons with the Cardinals, which included a playoff berth, Plummer was brought in by Denver to take the reigns of a dysfunctional team that was looking to regain that dominance they once had.
The result of Plummer's arrival? The Broncos clinched a playoff berth in his first three seasons, but were knocked out before they could reach their ultimate goal: The Super Bowl. But when Plummer started turning into Grizzly Adams, Mike Shanahan decided that it was time for another change.
With that, the Jay Cutler era had officially begun.
Since then, Plummer has tried to find himself. He refused to go to Tampa Bay, which costs him $3.5 Million in signing bonuses. He has also retired from the NFL and plays handball in Idaho. But was Plummer the only casualty of Denver?
Don't bank on it.
Suspect #5) Jay Cutler, Quarterback for Denver Broncos/Chicago Bears
Anyone remember this guy? This was Denver's pro bowl quarterback last season. This was the guy who had almost the same numbers as Kurt Warner and Drew Brees. It's ironic that the past (Warner), present (Brees) and future (Cutler) had almost the same numbers in one season.
But then there was the offseason.
When the Broncos fired Mike Shanahan and hired Josh McDaniels, everyone chimed in and said that this was not what they expected. They were expecting someone with a little more head coaching experience to take the reigns of the three-wheeled wagon known as the Denver Broncos.
So McDaniels' first official move as head coach was to pursue Patriots' QB, Matt Cassel. In the process, he threw Cutler's name out there as a possible X-Factor of the trade. When Cutler caught wind of this, he went from Pro Bowl QB to the NFL's biggest crybaby since Terrell Owens.
But the saga could have ended with just a simple, "My Bad, Jay." And Jay could have just let it roll off his back and supported what was in the best interest of the team. Instead he decided what was in the best interest of Jay Cutler.
That sounds like a Denver quarterback, right?
So instead of resolving this situation, his agent did his best Drew Rosenhaus impression and tried to get his quarterback to a possible AFC rival. The result? Cutler was sent to the Windy City where the city itself is dying to quench their thirst for a World Championship.
Now not since the bad karaoke of the Chicago White Sox has the sports world in Chicago been turned upset down. But Jay Cutler is a team player, right?
What will he say when he is introduced as the new field general for Chicago?
On the Broncos side, everyone is disappointed at how this ended. Brandon Marshall said on Sportscenter this morning that "it is time to look to a new era for the Broncos...and I am excited move look forward with Kyle Orton as our new quarterback."
I will say this now: Jay Cutler, you are a whiny little bitch. You had this coming to you because you turned yourself into a complete hypocrite when you thought of yourself instead of the team. The fans will most likely boo you in August when you visit Denver. I respect you as a tough as nails quarterback, but personally, I think the way you acted makes you big piece of trash.
So now we're waiting on your take...so do yourself a favor: Don't F*ck This Up!
But Cutler is not the main reason of why everyone is up in arms about Denver. There is one man who is at the center of all this controversy.
And why am I not surprised that it's...
Final Suspect (for now): John Elway, NFL Hall of Famer
John Albert Elway II has been at the center of the Denver Broncos controversy since his retirement. Elway made it clear when he was drafted that he didn't want to play for the Baltimore Colts. So what that he is the only Broncos QB to play in multiple Super Bowls, as well as win back to back Super Bowls.
But is John Elway officially the cancer of the Denver Broncos?
Elway has ownership in both of Denver's football teams, the Crush and the Broncos. There is a giant statue in Broncos HQ of him. He has been the learning curve that every single Broncos quarterback after him has had to compete with.
But most of all, he is the one that is possibly responsible for the downfall of the Broncos.
Bubby Brister, Brian Griese, Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler all have had to live up to the hype of ol' #7. And it's because of that, they've all had to suffer the consequences of not living up to the legend that is John Elway.
But is living up to Elway really worth it?
The guy lost three Super Bowls before getting it right in 1998. His numbers were truly Hall of Fame-worthy. Since then, he's been inducted into Canton, got divorced from his wife Janet and has ensured that there will be some sort of family feud with his oldest daughter Jessica playing basketball at Stanford and his only son Jack playing football at Arizona State.
But the story gets even more bizarre. Elway is even planning a wedding to Paige Green, who is a former cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders, the heated rivals of the Broncos.
But Elway has continued to be a huge part of the Broncos organization. In all honesty, it's clear to see that Bowlen would like Elway to become the head coach of the Broncos. Why else would the guy continue to be as close to Elway as possible? It's obvious that the coaching carousel in Denver has to end somewhere.
And considering Elway did coach his son at Cherry Creek High School last year, it's obvious what the future holds for Denver.
Since Elway retired from the Broncos in 1999, Denver has not seen the Super Bowl since. They got close three years ago, but Ben Roethlisberger (who wears #7 in honor of Elway) silenced that one at the 2006 AFC Championship Game in Denver.
So is Elway the cancer that is killing the Legacy of the Denver Broncos?
Considering that every quarterback has to live up to his name, the statue that graces Broncos HQ is a constant reminder to every quarterback that comes to play for Denver that this is who you have to truly impress, what do you think? Today, Elway has said publicly that "I am disappointed that this situation had to end this way."
Is he really disappointed? And why the hell would they ask him and not Plummer, the guy who lost his job to Cutler? Is Elway slated to replace J-Mac as head coach in two seasons?
Because if the Broncos aren't in the postseason after that, he's gone.
Who got the better end of the deal?
The Nation has spoken, and they say that the Broncos got the better end of the deal than the Bears. So let's weigh in and find out who really did.
The Denver Broncos
A) Get a proven leader in Kyle Orton (with an impressive record as a starter)
B) Part ways with an unsatisfied quarterback
C) Snag a pair of first round draft picks (which "experts" say they'll use on USC QB Mark Sanchez)
D) Are able to officially focus on the new season
The Chicago Bears
A) Acquire a solid quarterback in Jay Cutler (attitude and all)
B) Have Solidified the long term quarterback position (via Jerry Angelo's request)
C) Bring in a gunslinger who is not afraid to take a few shots
With Jay Cutler's "Rugrats" like attitude out the window, the Broncos can officially focus on the 2009-10 season. After bringing in Brian Dawkins, the Broncos can officially finish the task at hand for the offseason. With Orton coming to town, the Broncos definitely got the better end of the deal.
As for the Bears, they can't make the postseason with just Devin Hester running kicks back alone. They will need some serious backfield and wideout additions before they can become a serious threat to the NFC North. They have a proven winner in Jay Cutler, whereas Green Bay and Minnesota are trying to rekindle that fire they once had.
Is Orton enough for Denver to return to the promise land? Is Cutler the missing piece of the puzzle for Chicago? Which city will be celebrating at the end of the season?