DENVER — To ring in 2018, the Broncos should make the same resolution they made in 2017: tell the truth.
Only next year they should follow through.
The Broncos' Vance Joseph brought T-shirts into this head coaching job. The first one had a single word that screamed, in big, fat letters, across the front: “TRUTH.” Players wore it. Coaches wore it. Cafeteria workers wore it.
Then they didn’t stick to their word. Then we were told Paxton Lynch “played pretty well” with 41 passing yards and a trail of tears against the Raiders. And how the Broncos “played hard” coming off a bye week in a loss to the winless Giants. And that Isaiah McKenzie had earned the punt return job in training camp, when, truthfully, it was just handed to him due to his draft status.
“That’s an unusual occurrence for him,” special teams coordinator Brock Olivo said after McKenzie muffed a punt in late July. “He’s usually spot on.”
The Denver Pinocchios close the 2017 season Sunday against the Chiefs.
Here's hoping honesty matters in 2018.
The losing? Losing happens, even here, a region that’s seen more Super Bowls than losing records in the Bowlen era. The untruths? They're not fooling anyone. Broncos Country knows what it’s watching. Anyone smart enough to live here is smart enough to know good football from bad. 2017 was the latter.
“They’re smart and they know the game,” quarterback Trevor Siemian said of Broncos fans in early December.
Broncos Country saw right through it. That’s just the truth.
The Broncos proclaimed before the season their offensive identity would be a powerful running game. They won the first three games (beating the Chargers, Cowboys, Raiders) in which they called more running plays than passing plays. After that, they called more passing plays than running plays in eight straight games. They lost all eight. Don't say it if you don't mean it.
Truth is, the Broncos can’t afford to skimp on the next quarterback. This process — the one that, please, must end Sunday when Lynch starts a virtual bowl game against the Chiefs — was worth a shot. Going cheap at quarterback allowed them to pay big bucks on defense. It didn’t work. Time to move on.
Of the 12 teams currently in the playoffs, eight began the season with a quarterback on a veteran contract. They paid their starting quarterback an average salary of $20.6 million. Truth is, you get what you pay for.
"My profession is all about the truth," Von Miller said. "What you put on the football field is what it is. You can't sugarcoat that."
Why did the Broncos?
Executive vice president of football operations John Elway and cohort Matt Russell are on the road again. They watched Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen in the Potato Bowl, and that should be the last time Allen is considered as a potential Broncos quarterback. Allen’s is a great story, one that I wrote before he blew up and into a first-round draft pick. But the Broncos don’t need another quarterback project, one whose potential outshines his actual production. Elway scouting college quarterbacks reminds of 2011, when he attended a Stanford practice for Andrew Luck, while another first-rounder already was on his roster. Tim Tebow soon was replaced by Peyton Manning.
The starter on Sunday, Lynch, should be replaced by a veteran quarterback.
But one new QB isn't enough. Denver also should draft Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy winner, Baker Mayfield. This quarterback room needs an overhaul.
None of the quarterbacks have “played pretty well,” as Lynch said about himself, or “did fine,” as Joseph said about Siemian. That’s just the truth. The Broncos this season were more concerned with saying nice things than saying truthful things. Before winning does, truth must return to Dove Valley.