DENVER — Forgive me, Colorado, for I have sinned.
Soon, after one more excruciating down payment, yours truly will be a Las Vegas Raiders season-ticket holder. I know, I know. But I thought you guys should be in the loop, since we're always honest with each other. Let's get through this together.
And as a future Raiders season-ticket holder — boy, that's not getting any easier to type — it is within my PSL rights to complain about the quarterback. Raider Nation (ugh, I feel sick) is over Derek Carr. Time for some new/old blood.
Dear Tom Brady: Come west, young man. Hang with the other snowbirds. Play year-round golf. Eat a tomato. Live a little. The desert would be a lovely place to spend your remaining years of football.
Because it's past time to spice up the AFC West. The mild, mild West is starting to look too much like the AFC East that served as New England’s secret weapon for 20 years. The Chiefs are the Patriots in this scenario. Over the past four years, Kansas City is 22-2 against its rivals. The Broncos are 10-14, the Chargers and Raiders 9-15. "Tomato cans,” as Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy calls them. I love that line.
The Broncos — one of three teams from the division to finish this season with a losing record — must do their part, too. This offseason should be dedicated to empowering Drew Lock and Rich Scangarello with more offensive toys to play with. Toys come in big (linemen) and small (wide receivers, running backs) packages, and the Broncos need both. Their rebirth begins with a more balanced checkbook. Follow the money to see why Denver's defense remains formidable while the offense eclipsed 25 points just twice: only three teams spent less money on their offense, according to handy-dandy Spotrac.com.
John Elway already told us his plans for the Broncos' offseason. Didn't hear it? That’s OK, as the general manager showing his hand was lost among the big news that the Broncos will go up for sale if the Bowlen kids can’t all get along. But Elway praised the Chiefs more than I’ve heard him praise an opponent, much less a division rival. Shoot, I once asked Elway, prior to the 2013 AFC Championship Game, if the steady, reliable Patriots were a blueprint for the Broncos — in any way, shape or form.
“No,” he said bluntly. And that was that.
Not this time around. Elway spoke of the Chiefs like, I want one of those and one of those and one of those ...
“One of the disappointing things about this year was how we played against the Chiefs. We didn’t score a touchdown against the Chiefs,” Elway said. "They’re the team we’re going to have to beat."
But Elway wasn’t done sounding like a man on a mission, lauding the Chiefs. There was more.
"The first goal is to win the West. Now we’ve got to figure out how we're going to get through Kansas City to do that," Elway said.
To beat the Chiefs, you must keep pace with the Chiefs. And with their offense now, the Broncos have zero margin for error. Garett Bolles’ holds, Vic Fangio’s field-goal decisions, DaeSean Hamilton’s drops — mistakes are magnified when points are endangered species. Did you know the 2013 Broncos averaged more penalties than the 2019 Broncos? We don’t remember the 2013 Broncos for their mistakes. We remember these guys for theirs.
The Broncos drafted defense first in each of Elway’s first four years as GM. It’s a good guess, and only that, this year they go offensive line. Then there’s the matter of free agency, where the Broncos need another home-run wide receiver like they scored in 2014 with Emmanuel Sanders. Can you believe they got a stud like Sanders for $15 million over three years? What a steal that was. Now do it again.
Elway's tipped his hand before. It was in 2014 after the Seahawks mugged the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. And in came DeMarcus Ware, TJ Ward and Aqib Talib. Last week's season-ending news conference with Elway and Fangio sounded like that — on offense.
“We think there are some quality football players out there that can help us,” Elway said.
Oh, right. You’re wondering about the Raiders season-ticket holder part. My friends made me do it. Blame Bone, Gary and Moco, who claim they needed a fourth seat for the investment to make sense. Keeping with the times, I am a victim here. Even the silver-and-black letterhead has tested my nerve and brought into question my Colorado-hood. But like Steve Atwater closing his career with the Jets, it was a business decision.
And tell me you're not rooting for Handsome Tom to the Raiders. Be honest. Las Vegas has the second-best odds to land him, after the Cleveland Browns, according to the Vegas books. Just in case this impacts his decision: the Raiders don't retire jersey numbers, so the late Kenny Stabler's No. 12 is available. Everyone must have a hand in spicing up the AFC West.