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Old 11-15-2012, 06:24 AM   #1
Bronco Rob
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Default USA Today: Elway still on a Rocky Mountain high

Some highlights:

In the 22 months since he was hired as executive vice president of football operations, Elway has taken the Broncos from the franchise's lowest point following their 4-12 season under Josh McDaniels and re-crafted the Broncos' roster to fit his vision . Of the 31 players who have started for the Broncos this season, 23 were drafted, signed or re-signed by Elway.

Elway pulled off the biggest coup of the offseason when he convinced superstar quarterback Peyton Manning to sign with the Broncos. He then traded away popular quarterback Tim Tebow to the Jets for a pair of late-round draft picks.

Eight months later, Dove Valley largely drama-free for the first time in years, and the Broncos, at 6-3, seem destined for the playoffs. A win Sunday against San Diego would give Denver a three-game lead in the AFC West before Thanksgiving.

Those two moves only reinforced that Elway's return to the Broncos was far more than a public relations move for a franchise that had seemingly lost its way. So why would Elway be more like Ozzie Newsome, with the Baltimore Ravens, or Jerry West with the Los Angeles Lakers, than Millen ?

Ernie Accorsi was the general manager of the Cleveland Browns for part of Newsome's Hall of Fame playing career, and hired him as a scout in 1991. Ellis asked Accorsi to talk to Elway after Elway accepted the Broncos' job, and Accorsi said it was apparent to him that Elway and Newsome had plenty in common .

Elway's first move was to hire a head coach to replace McDaniels. In Fox, Elway chose a man who appeared to be the opposite of the young and notoriously prickly McDaniels : Fox had nine years of head coaching experience, and a reputation of being a coach players loved to play for. They clicked immediately, and the partnership appears to be flourishing. Fox gives his input on personnel matters; Elway offers opinions on what he called "conceptual" football ideas, but they largely let each other run their areas of the organization without interference.

Manning is the headliner on Elway's crop of players, but plenty of other under-the-radar signings have made important contributions, from re-signing linebacker Wesley Woodyard in March (he now leads the team in tackling); signing free agent center Dan Koppen in mid-September (he now starts after J.D. Walton suffered a broken ankle); signing Brooking, 36, during training camp (he unseated starter Joe Mays in October); and claiming kick returner Trindon Holliday off waivers from Houston in October (he scored in each of the previous two games).

His first draft of 2011 appears to be a success, with No. 2 pick Von Miller emerging as one of the league's best defensive players, and three others from that class currently starting. He was criticized for moving out of the first round in 2012 to select defensive lineman Derek Wolfe and quarterback Brock Osweiler in the second round. Wolfe has started every game, but Osweiler (at least the Broncos are hoping) won't contribute for years.

For the rest -

Last edited by Bronco Rob; 11-15-2012 at 06:34 AM..
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