20

January

Ted Thompson Could Learn Some Things From John Elway

John Elway showed the Packers how it was done in Super Bowl XXXII. 16 years later, he might be showing them again.

Approximately 16 years ago, John Elway broke the hearts of the Green Bay Packers and their fans when his Denver Broncos upset them in a 31-24 victory in Super Bowl XXXII.

That loss has gone down as one of the bitterest defeats in the history of the Packers and the failure to win that game hastened the departure of head coach Mike Holmgren from Green Bay. Holmgren coached only one more season before leaving to become both the head coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.

Elway meanwhile won his second straight ring the following year before retiring from pro football.  In 2011, not soon after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, the Hall of Fame quarterback was hired by Denver to run their football operations.  It was a move that was criticized by many as Elway didn’t have much front office experience, aside from owning Colorado’s arena football team.

Much like in his playing days, Elway silenced his critics.  In his first year at the helm, he picked up the pieces from the disastrous tenure of Josh McDaniels as head coach and the Broncos won the AFC West title with Tim Tebow (TIM TEBOW!) at quarterback.  Denver even upset the then-defending AFC champion Steelers in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the Patriots.

Elway then of course signed Peyton Manning the following offseason and the rest is history.  With the Broncos on their way to Super Bowl XLVIII, many teams around the NFL will be looking at how Elway built his roster. Despite a recent run of success, the Green Bay Packers should be one of those teams.

While a full roster rebuild is not necessary in Green Bay, Packers general manager Ted Thompson would be wise to look at exactly how Elway has built the Broncos and how that could serve as a blueprint to get the Packers back in contention for a Super Bowl.

The common excuse for Elway’s detractors is “Oh, he has Peyton Manning.”  That’s true, but remember this team won the AFC West in 2011 with a quarterback whose throwing style resembles loose Jell-O. There is plenty of talent on the team even if you don’t count Manning.

30

September

2011 NFL Season Week 4: Green Bay Packers vs. Denver Broncos Preview: Not Quite Super Bowl XXXII Redux

It doesn’t have the luster of Super Bowl XXXII but the game this Sunday between the Green Bay Packers and the Denver Broncos does have some meaning for the defending world champions.

For example, the last time the Packers were the defending champs the Broncos were the ones who stripped them of their title.  While Kyle Orton is no John Elway, the Broncos are a significant underdog like they were in Super Bowl XXXII when they upset the Brett Favre-led Packers.

At the same time, the Packers need to win this game to keep pace with the Detroit Lions in the NFC North (you have no clue how strange it is to type that).  While some have gone so far as to say the Packers are in control of the division despite being tied with another team, the Packers know firsthand the Lions are not to be taken lightly.

Last week in review

The Packers beat their archrival Chicago Bears 27-17 at Soldier Field.  Jermichael Finley made his presence known by catching three touchdown passes and the defense, though sluggish at times, shut down the Bears offense and the Packers moved to 3-0.

The Broncos meanwhile lost a close game to the Tennessee Titans in Tennessee 17-14.  Orton struggled again throwing two interceptions and for only 173 yards to only increase the cry from Bronco fans for Orton to be benched and let second year quarterback Tim Tebow into the lineup.  The Broncos are 1-2 on the season, but have been competitive in both their losses.

Breaking down the Broncos

Despite this being his first season as coach, John Fox truly has built the Broncos the same way he built his teams in Carolina.

Fox expects a strong rushing attack from his offense.  While Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee are definitely not DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, there is enough potential there.  McGahee has clearly been the stronger back this season as Moreno can’t seem to stay healthy and is a question mark for the game vs the Packers.

Orton is no stranger to the Packers from his years in Chicago before being sent to Denver that brought the self-giving gift known as Jay Cutler to Chicago.  Orton won’t beat you deep nor will he beat you with his athleticism.  He truly is a game manager quarterback.  He doesn’t strike fear in the heart of a defense late in a game, and that’s why Broncos fans are screaming for Tebow.