Lackluster finishes rankled Elway

ByJeff Legwold ESPN logo
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

After another season ended in disappointing fashion for the Denver Broncos, executive vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway said Tuesday it was time for a change.

"I sat down here last year in front of you and told the fans how we're just as disappointed this year as we were last year and the fact that we didn't play better at the end of the year," Elway said. "I think if there is one thing that you would like to have and you want to feel, at least in the last game you want to feel like you go out kicking and screaming. When you're right there, and I think two years in a row it didn't feel like we went out kicking and screaming because of the fact the way we played the last game."

Elway added that he was "disappointed we didn't have more fire" against the Colts.

That lack of fire led to the parting of ways between coach John Fox and the Broncos. Fox led the franchise to four straight AFC West titles but has come up short with home losses in the divisional round of the playoffs in 2012 and 2014 and a 35-point blowout loss in last season's Super Bowl XLVIII.

Elway said Tuesday the Broncos have not formally contacted any other teams for permission to interview assistant coaches. Elway did say both offensive coordinator Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio were candidates for the job, but he wouldn't say if the Broncos would interview one or both of them.

Gase was meeting with San Francisco 49ers officials Tuesday in the Denver area while Del Rio was meeting with the Oakland Raiders in the Bay Area. Both were meeting with those teams for the second time.

Del Rio is closing in on a deal to become the Raiders' head coach, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen on Wednesday.

Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn are expected to be contacted. Kubiak is a former longtime Broncos assistant and teammate of Elway.

Former Broncos assistant Rick Dennison, who aced his interview with team officials when Denver replaced Mike Shanahan following the 2008 season, may also draw some consideration from the team.

"I feel real good about our roster," Elway said. "I think, contrary to what everybody thinks, we've got a good roster here. We've got a relatively young roster. ... So I feel great about our football team.

"And so the next guy, what do I look for? I look for a guy that's very smart, that's competitive, that is aching to win world championships like I am. And I think there are a lot of things. You want to get like-minded people. I think that helps a lot, or even to have a great conversation, agree to disagree, but come out with the right decision for what's best for the Denver Broncos, which is our main goal. I know there are a lot of quality candidates out there."

Despite Elway's strong belief in his roster, the team's biggest question mark in terms of personnel may be whether quarterback Peyton Manning will return.

Elway said he believes from a football perspective that Manning can still play at a high level. Elway said he spoke with Manning on Monday and told the 17-year veteran to take a few weeks to make his decision and "just know how much we want you back, but you need to take the time and get away from this."

"I told him in four or five weeks -- I'm going to stay in touch with him -- we'll get back together and see where he is because the career that he's had, what he's done not only in the NFL but in the short time he's been here with the Denver Broncos, what he's meant to us is tremendous," Elway said. "So we'll continue to monitor that. But the bottom line is we want him back, and it's going to come down to what Peyton wants to do."

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