Denver had an excitingly difficult season in 2012, going 13-3, owning home-field playoff advantage and then losing in overtime in the first round, giving up a late long touchdown pass in regulation.
The Broncos watched Baltimore move on to win Super Bowl XLVII, and General Manager John Elway remembers the feeling. He wants his team to do so, too.
“I don’t want to forget last year. I don’t want our team to forget it,” said Elway. “I want them to realize it was a great year, but also forget the feeling of what happened in the playoff game. Be able to learn from it. Hopefully, we can build on it and get better as we did in ’96. 1997 and 1998 were (Super Bowl-winning) years. I hope we can learn like we did (back then).”
Elway is earning his spurs as a league executive. He is competing in a division with two new head coaches, including Andy Reid in Kansas City.
Elway feels better at this combine than at past combines with the state of his roster, but now is no time to feel safe.
“We have to get better because everybody is. 13-3 is not good enough,” said Elway. “It was nice we won the division and had home-field advantage but when you lose in the first round of the playoffs, you have to get better.
“We have to learn to play in the post-season. You can be good in the regular season and I said it last year, ‘We make our money in the regular season. You make your legacy in the post-season as a player.’
“That’s why what we experienced in the first round was important. You have to be tough. The expectations rise. You don’t have next week. You have to learn to play with sudden death, which is, ‘There is no next week.’ That’s why great teams flourish in the playoffs.”
Elway won titles in his final two seasons. His quarterback, Peyton Manning, has one title in an illustrious career.
Elway watched Manning star in the same city where he shaped his own legacy.
“He had a tremendous year. Talking to other guys who have been through what he’s been through with that neck, there was a lot more to it than I knew,” said Elway. “I think he exceeded expectations now that I know what he had to go through, not so much physically but mentally.
“He did a tremendous job. I’m looking forward to next year, too. I think he’s going to get better. … Peyton had a lot to do with where we (were.)”
Elway feels quarterbacks now entering the league are better prepared than before. His school turned one out in Andrew Luck, and Elway is among many who anticipate next year’s Colts-Broncos clash in Indianapolis.
“It will be special. I’m sure it will be special for Peyton,” said Elway. “Any time you spend as long as Peyton did in Indianapolis and the relationship he has, to go somewhere else and play had to be tough.
“Those are two guys (Luck and Manning) I have a great amount of respect for. Andrew coming out was as good as there’s been in a long time. You saw that last year in the year he had. He was tremendous. They go from 2-14 to 11-5, not only with Ryan Grigson doing a great job but with what Andrew did.”
Tags: Denver Broncos, indianapolis colts, John Elway, Peyton Manning, ryan grigson
Posted in Colts Blog