The Hall of Fame quarterback was selected by the team in the 1983 NFL Draft, and the kid from the state of Washington found a second home for the remainder of his adult life.
He’s one of the best to ever play the game, and his accomplishments with the Broncos as a player from 1983-1998 are amongst the most impressive in NFL history.
After his rookie season, Elway never had another losing year as a starter, which goes to show how great he was over a long period of time.
As an executive in Denver, Elway has also delivered some clutch moments that have helped his legacy in the city.
He brought Peyton Manning to the team after a year away from the game, when many wondered if he could ever play another full season.
Manning went on to play four years with the Broncos, and reached two Super Bowls in that time.
However, it hasn’t always been all sunshine and roses while Elway has been in the front office.
Outside of the Manning era, he’s struggled to put winning teams together.
Fans are hopeful that the team can bounce back in 2021, but we’ll take a look at the three largest mistakes Elway has made in football operations.
Congrats, Peyton, on your first-ballot HOF selection!!
Your legacy will never leave this game.
I appreciate all you did for the Broncos, the way you worked and the way you competed.
We could not have done it without you!! pic.twitter.com/yXT2GUqrhE
— John Elway (@johnelway) February 7, 2021
3. Not Beefing Up The Running Game
During the twilight of Elway’s career in the late 1990s, and even for several years into the next decade, the Broncos were always known for having a superior running game.
From 1995-2010, Denver’s leading rusher averaged 1,183 yards each year.
From 2011-2020, the Broncos’ leading rusher posted 933 yards on the ground, on average.
The NFL is certainly more of a passing league than it ever has been, and for some of the most recent nine-year stretch, Manning was orchestrating a prolific passing offense.
Elway played under Gary Kubiak and Mike Shanahan, who seemingly could conjure up production from journeyman backs.
It would have been a helpful formula to deploy during Elway’s time as an executive, but that has not happened.
2. Hiring Vance Joseph As Head Coach
Elway hired old friend Kubiak as the head coach of the team for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, which ended with respectable winning records.
Unfortunately, health concerns surrounded Kubiak, which made him step down, leaving Elway to find a replacement sooner than he might have wanted.
He decided to go with former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph as the next leader in Denver.
That move did not work out, to say the least.
Joseph went 5-11 and 6-10, respectively, in two seasons at the helm, and it was apparent that he was not quite ready to assume a leading role in the NFL.
It was a questionable hire from the get-go, as Joseph had only spent one year coordinating a defense in his career, and that season, the Dolphins were only slightly above average on that side of the ball.
Congrats to Darian on a tremendous career!!
He was a big part of our team and an integral member of the No Fly Zone that helped us win Super Bowl 50. Always was a positive influence in our community and is a great person!
Wishing Darian all the best in the next chapter!!!! https://t.co/zVY342hZ5B
— John Elway (@johnelway) December 11, 2020
1. Drafting Paxton Lynch
With Manning riding off into the sunset after the team’s Super Bowl victory in the 2015 season, Elway understandably knew that he needed to address the quarterback position in a significant way.
To that end, the team spent a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch.
He didn’t play against the most stout of competition in college, but Lynch put up impressive statistics in 2014 and 2015 for the Tigers.
However, none of that production ever translated to the professional level.
He only lasted two seasons with the Broncos, and only appeared in five NFL games.
It’s disappointing that the team didn’t even feel confident enough to run him out there for significant stretches, although he was hampered by a shoulder injury in 2017.