I've written a few articles about the Broncos' woes, trying to figure out what was going on. At first, I blamed the coach. His treatment of our star players and his attitude in general rubbed me the wrong way.
Then I saw a serious lack of execution from the players and realized that the blame needs to be shared. The players were simply not doing the job they were getting paid to do.
Then I heard John Elway speak about the problems as he saw it. After all, he would know better than I. His take was that the Broncos as a whole seem to be unable to turn the game around once things start going bad. They had nobody that could steer them back in the right direction once things went sour. A great and extremely accurate point. But why couldn't they turn it around?
Orton is a veteran QB; Dawkins and Champ are leaders of the highest degree. Yet when they stumbled, they fell. Was it the players or was it the coach? Then it struck me.... It’s the coach. And the players.
Here's what I mean. I've played the game for a number of years and for a number of coaches. I've watched the game since I could walk. One thing every team I played on and every team I've watched had in common? The team reflects their coach, it's inevitable. These are McDaniels' guys and they are reflecting their head coach.
Young, cocky and brash. In other words, they are new school.
Yes, I know that there are a lot of veterans on the team, but the team is new school. Trash talking, fist pumping and arrogant to no end, when things are going good.
Lost, confused and unable to turn a bad situation around, when things go sour.
If any of you have younger brothers, cousins or friends that tried to be as good as the older guys, then you'll understand what I'm about to say.
The younger guys were always faster than you, could jump higher than you but could never beat you. You would win 90% of the games and they could never figure out why they couldn't beat you. They would attribute the loss to bad luck or they had a bad day or whatever excuse they could find. They never gave the credit to the guy they were facing; they always turned inward for an explanation. New school.
The truth was, you knew how to win and they had not quite figured it out yet. Old school. You had a great many losses at the hands of those older than you and after time, you learned what it took to be better. You learned how to compete at a level that it takes to win, every time you competed. Not every once in a while, but every game, every play.
Then it hits them. The new school figures it out. They play with the intensity that you have; they match you step for step.
Then the cockiness leaves them, the confidence replaces the arrogance and they blow by you like you were standing still.
Josh McDaniels has had some brilliant games and the Broncos have won decisively under his reign. These days aren't mirages. He knows what he's doing. But he hasn't figured out how to win as a head coach in the NFL. He knows how to win games, how to be fiery and no doubt he knows how to be cocky. Conversely, the Broncos know how to be the same thing. Brash, brilliant at times, but unable to win.
There's no lack of talent on a team when you beat KC the way they did. Again, that was no mirage. It was a team with great potential that can't put it together every week. They don't match their opponent’s fire every game and every play.
Michael Jordan said often that no matter how much better he was than his friends, he didn't believe in himself until he beat his big brother. I'm not saying that McDaniels has to beat his big brother or Bellichek (he's already done that). I'm saying that he, and in turn the Broncos, need to learn how to bring the lumber every week, but not swing until as hard as possible right from the opening whistle.
Just as you did with your little brother, cousin or whoever, the NFL is beating the Broncos up right now, teaching them a lesson that was taught to them. You never know when someone gets it; there's not a glow around them like Bruce Leroy had. But when they do finally get it, it's a great thing to see.
Just like it was when your brother finally beat the brakes off you. Your job was done; he was now the man. When (not if) McDaniels gets it and his flashes of brilliance and arrogance are replaced with the confidence of a winner, his team will reflect those same qualities and they will be a contender year in and year out. Who knows if he'll still be wearing Orange and Blue but as far as I'm concerned, I want to see just that.