I think it’s safe to assume that Vance Joseph is on the hot seat. I’d guess that Bill Musgrave is, too. Here are two reasons why John Elway could see this season as a test and not want to go all in on the draft, but save some juice for next year. It begins and ends with coaching.
Reason one is, if Vance fails, a new Head Coach, a good one anyway, will insist on his own staff. That means for any rookie quarterback, he’ll be stuck in the same hell as Paxton Lynch. Another HC, OC, playbook and scheme to learn and another HC who didn’t chose him, isn’t invested in him. Kubiak hand picked Siemian (and Case Keenum), so there was pride in doing best for his guy.
When Elway drafted Lynch, it’s clear there wasn’t a good and cohesive plan with Gary Kubiak in place. Otherwise, Mark Sanchez wouldn’t have been let go. Having Trevor Siemian be the mentor to Lynch needs to go up there with one of the worst decisions ever made to a rookie QB. The SB of bad.
Does Elway bank on Joseph and Musgrave being in Denver for the next three years?
That’s how long a QB needs to get in his groove. He needs two to see if there’s growth and three to put all the pieces together. To be the seasoned guy who can carry a team through the playoffs.
What Elway could do is build some draft capital for next year. If Denver finishes mid pack, I can see another new coach. Let that new staff pick their QB and use the draft picks amassed this season, to move up to the top spot.
Do what the Eagles and Rams did. Go all in. Keep Case around so his 36 million isn’t wasted and let him continue as the mentor. The odds are better at finding the guy at number one, than five. Not to mention, this season he could use the 5 on a stud (or trades back) to build the team stronger for next year.
If Elway drafts a QB at 5, bucks history, then he better have 100% faith in his coaching staff, too. The worst thing Elway could do is throw away another first round QB. Bog him down in a coaching and scheme change carousel. Stick him with a coach who doesn’t look at him as his guy. Good general managers learn from their mistakes.
Reason number two, history hasn’t been kind to QBs taken in the top ten when it comes to getting Super Bowl rings. Well, not since 2000. Three QBs have rings. Trent Dilfer and the Mannings. 3 in 17 years. Two since the league went to 32 teams. And Eli is the only one still playing. With that said, QBs taken 1 and 2 have done well in keeping their teams relevant. Carried them through tough seasons. Between the top two and under ten there are more current success stories like Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, then those above 11.
Quarterbacks taken at five in the Super Bowl era are journeymen Mark Sanchez (4-2 POs), Kerry Collins (3-4 POs), Jim McMahon (1 SB, 3-3 in POs) and Greg Cook. 52 years, one ring. Besides Cook, who was injured and retired, the other three played on eighteen teams. Sanchez on 5, Collins on 6 and McMahon on 7.
Then you have the Russell Wilsons and Nick Foles. The diamonds in the rough guys, or who hit the right team, at the right time, with the right coaching. Players taken in round three or even Tom Brady in six.
Here’s my theory, although I’m sure it’s a not an original thought. The Steelers and Packers have been franchises who often lurk around the top of their divisions every year. As do the Patriots, Broncos, Chiefs, Cowboys, Redskins and Vikings. Yes, they have bad seasons here or there, but for the most part, they rarely have consecutive dumpster years. Yes, I have the Redskins in here because up until recently, their ownership did a good job.
These teams, if they pick a QB not in the top two, can still do well because their teams are usually assembled fairly well. Their first round talent, although not top ten, enhanced their teams. In years when their coaching failed, their seasoned QBs could carry the load. Teams like the Colts who were and are completely reliant on a QB at #1, keep missing on multiply rings because their teams weren’t/aren’t balanced. Their front office stinks at assembling good teams.
Where Denver failed in 2016 which lead to 2017, was not having a seasoned veteran. One that allowed their rookie to grow into the role, like other teams have done. Then because of that poor coaching choice (along with others), another crew was brought in and still an absence of a vet which continued the downward spiral.
Elway may look at his two coaches and wonder how wise it is to draft another first round QB, and one in the dreaded fifth spot, when he’s not sure about the coaching. He may decide to hedge his bets, bank some draft capital and ride on next season to find his guy. Have a clean slate across the board–new HC, OC and #1 QB in which they all grow together.