Denver Broncos: Pat Bowlen Should Now Focus on the Future of the Franchise

Chaz MattsonAnalyst INovember 1, 2010

Pat Bowlen is still one of the most respected owners in football but needs to immediately focus the franchise on the future.
Pat Bowlen is still one of the most respected owners in football but needs to immediately focus the franchise on the future.Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

It’s time to face the facts.

The Denver Broncos are at the crossroads to what kind of franchise they are going to be for the foreseeable future.

Much in the way he did a little over a decade ago by implementing changes to the Denver Broncos' jerseys, logo, and apparel line through "focus groups", it's time again for Mr. Bowlen to re-focus the football franchise. 

Credit Pat Bowlen for doing what he believed was the right move in cutting ties with a friend and fan favorite coach in Mike Shanahan. It seemed to be the right time in his mind to start anew, given the recent years of drama and turmoil no sports franchise should ever have to go through. 

So Mr. Bowlen gambled on Josh McDaniels to become the next best thing in football since Mike Shanahan took over the Broncos in 1995. The only problem was, and has been, Josh McDaniels never entirely established credibility in the NFL on a broad scale, and it something he still wrestles with to this day.

The most essential reality about the way Mr. Bowlen has handled the franchise is that he has robbed Peter to pay Paul--he has raked the fans and Denver community to survive financially and deliver a low-rent product on the field.


Evaluating the Current Track Record under Josh McDaniels

Without a doubt the game against the rival Oakland Raiders has had Broncos fans thinking about the future of the franchise. It was a Mickey Mouse affair that saw the Broncos dominated by the Oakland Raiders like they never have before, to the tune of 59-14. 

It was more than just unacceptable to Broncos fans; it was a game that has a majority of Broncos fans clamoring for a change at the head coach position. If nothing else, it was obvious that the players gave up on McDaniel's as their head coach during the game.

In England the Broncos put forth a much better effort against the San Francisco 49ers and still saw the reliable kicking game go in the tank. The Broncos also saw two touchdowns called back due to penalties and the now usual breakdowns in key situations that saw stalled drives and turnovers seal their fate.

The most important statistical breakout on the Denver Broncos are that they are 0-4 in their last four games, 2-6 on the season, and have now lost 14 out of 18 dating back to last season.

So what does all this mean?


Mr. Bowlen Needs a New Focus Group

It’s time to evaluate the entire franchise. The reality is, at this juncture, McDaniels has not earned the right to be the coach in the third season of his deal. The reasoning is simple, the Broncos are not competitive enough under his watch and that much is obvious. 

McDaniels' offensive scheme has failed. Brandon Lloyd was quoted after the game in London against the 49ers adamantly defending the coach and the scheme, saying it’s not the scheme but rather citing a lack of team execution. 

The reality is he’s only partially right. The Broncos do have execution issues. A great deal of the execution faltering is due to the extra pressure placed on the offense unnecessarily through a lack luster run scheme and an excessive amount of third and long situations which result in failed drives.

This is not meant to call Lloyd out as much as it is to show that his comments are not entirely accurate about the current offensive scheme. If you don’t believe it, read every article about the scheme written by yours truly outlining its short falls. 

It’s all been documented clearly. In fact, as the writer who has been the most critical of the Broncos offensive scheme, I even gave the readers' year end breakouts last year, a quarterly breakout to start this season and there will be more to follow later this week to drive the point home.

At the end of the day, the only thing that should be trusted is this: the Broncos offensive scheme has flaws.

Now fans could look at the New England Patriots and say the scheme works under them, right?  That is a very fair and very legitimate question to which the Broncos have not any viable answers. Much of the excuse making starts by looking at the Broncos offensive line woes and how the team has failed to produce a decent running attack.

Statistically speaking, Tom Brady and Kyle Orton had very similar stat sheets entering Sunday’s games, but the Broncos have experienced far more breakdowns in their offensive attack.

The nutshell answer is it all boils down to how the Broncos set themselves up to fail on third down. That fact alone is an indictment on the offensive scheme if nothing else is.


A Wind of Change That Makes Some Sense

Much of the fan base is ready for McDaniels to go. The likelihood of that happening by the end of this season is quite slim, especially considering Bowlen’s recent track record in supporting McDaniels. The fact is McDaniels' hiring was always a cost cutting move on behalf of Bowlen in hopes of pulling a rabbit out of the hat.

This just in…the rabbit has left the building!

So there are no magic tricks, no cost cutting maneuvers, no pipe dreams and no scheme adjustments by Josh McDaniels that are going to save this franchise anytime soon. Not even Tim Tebow can save the current direction of the Broncos franchise.

One thing is clear however, Mr. Bowlen should be ready to shake things up in Dove Valley for the good of righting the franchise.

At the very least, Mr. Bowlen should be asking Josh to replace a coach or two.

Another move that would show how bold Mr. Bowlen can be as a competitor is to officially bring John Elway back to the franchise, and not as a consultant.  At this juncture Elway should become the new General Manager with the ultimate say on the Denver Broncos' direction. 

This would both represent and force a balance the franchise has needed and sorely lacked for some time now. Another real reason for this suggestion is this: Elway is probably ready to be a full-time GM despite all of his other business dealings. 

It’s an outside-looking-in perception, but having Elway heavily involved in re-shaping the Denver Broncos would probably serve as a good thing for Elway and the Denver Broncos franchise; it would energize the fan base and help Mr. Bowlen to save face in the community that still appreciates him. 

The right move would be to replace McDaniels immediately. Now is the time for the Denver Broncos to make a move on a head coach (logically) because they could get Jon Gruden. Now is the time to make a move on landing a coach prior to other teams like Dallas and San Francisco entering into a bidding war, both of which are positions Gruden would likely value higher than Denver.

The reason Gruden makes a lot of sense is because he understands football on a number of levels. He understands it as a GM, as a head coach, as an offensive coordinator and probably most importantly, as a motivator when it comes to where the Broncos are right now.

There are other viable coaches out there, but the one that makes the most sense of bringing back some fire to the Broncos fan base is Gruden.


A Final Suggestion from the Fans

This final suggestion should be taken to heart by Bowlen and the Broncos franchise moving forward.

It’s time to change the jerseys on the field, they have run their course.

The Broncos should get back to the 1977 Orange Crush look. It’s still OK to keep some form of a blue jersey as well, but the Broncos franchise boomed as the Orange Crush and had the most distinct orange color in all of sports, why they abandoned it has never made any sense to the die-hard fans. It’s time to bring it back!

When Bill Parcells wanted to re-vamp the New York Jets, what did he do? 

He brought back the Jets original look of their glory days and it is still vibrant with that franchise since his departure.

The same would be true with the Broncos franchise.



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