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Old 11-05-2010, 04:21 AM   #1
Bronco Rob
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Default Broncos official Joe Ellis feels fans' pain, continues support for McDaniels

Broncos official Joe Ellis feels fans' pain, continues support for McDaniels



By Mike Klis
The Denver Post
Posted: 11/05/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT



Last in the AFC West and among the five worst teams in the NFL, the Broncos were followed into their bye week by an enraged fan base.

"Don't think we don't know that," said Joe Ellis, the Broncos' chief operating officer and top lieutenant to owner Pat Bowlen. "Their anger and disappointment is justified."

Most of the vitriol is directed at one of two people: Coach Josh McDaniels, or Bowlen for hiring McDaniels, whose team has lost 14 of its past 18 games.

If it helps, the rancor has not fallen on deaf ears at Dove Valley. Though they occupy the most important offices, Bowlen and Ellis are not insulated.

Asked specifically about McDaniels' job security, Ellis expressed confidence his coach will turn the team around this season, but stopped short of guaranteeing McDaniels' return for a third season.

"Right now we have eight games left to play," Ellis said. "And we start with one game, and that's against the Kansas City Chiefs. We need to work hard and prepare and play well in that game. Having said that, Pat Bowlen believes Josh McDaniels can bring this team around. He believes in how he's approaching his job to get this team to be a contender every year. We think the players believe in him. They believe in the staff, and we think it's important for everyone inside our building to stick together and work hard."

In an interview Thursday with The Denver Post, Ellis, speaking for the team's top management, addressed the state of the Broncos at the season's halfway mark; their humiliating 59-14 home defeat to Oakland; Bowlen's state of mind; how the team's current four-game losing streak has affected business; the organizational role of quarterback legend John Elway; and McDaniels, whom he helped Bowlen hire away from the New England Patriots to succeed Mike Shanahan prior to the 2009 season.

At 2-6, the Broncos have their worst halfway-mark record since 1999, when the team followed back-to-back Super Bowl titles with a 6-10 record.

It's been 20 years since the Broncos finished as woeful as 5-11. They've never finished 4-12 or worse since the NFL expanded to a 16-game season in 1978. To a Broncos fan base that has experienced just four losing full seasons since 1975, frustration has turned to anger.

"We've had a culture of winning here under Pat Bowlen for 27 years," Ellis said. "When that started to slide (under Shanahan), there were expectations that when we brought in the new head coach that would change immediately. When that didn't happen as fast as our fans wanted it to we all wanted it to happen quickly there was a lot of angst among our fans."

Other topics addressed by Ellis:

The 59-14 debacle to Oakland on Oct. 24: "The type of loss we had at home, the fans' emotions and feelings are understandably raw in terms of their anger and disappointment. Pat understands that. Josh understands that.

"Because of the way that game went, we made our apologies, we told everybody how embarrassed we were through our head coach and players. But those words right now ring hollow. The only way you can win back the fans' trust is to earn it on the field by coaching better, playing better and performing better and winning."

Bowlen's health: The Broncos' owner has said in the past year he struggles with short-term memory loss. He rarely gives interviews anymore. But, Ellis said, Bowlen is active in the day-to-day operations of the team and continues to serve on significant NFL committees, including those that oversee labor and broadcasting rights.

"Pat's doing well," Ellis said. "He's elected at this point in his life to step back and not be in the spotlight as much as he was. That was his plan when he brought in Josh. But he's in (the office) every day. He speaks to the coach every day. He's engaged completely on where we are.

"I will tell you this: No one is more competitive inside our building than Pat Bowlen. No one wants to win more than Pat Bowlen. Josh knows that. I know that. I hope our players know that. I hope our coaches know that."

The mood of BroncosNation: Does he expect dips in attendance, merchandise sales and luxury-suite occupancy with a third four-game losing streak in a span of 18 games?

"No, our fans continue to support us," Ellis said.

Counting playoffs, the Broncos have enjoyed 328 consecutive sellouts. The crowds were exuberant during the Broncos' first two home games, against Seattle and Indianapolis.

"And the Jets game was one of the best crowds I've seen in 10 years at our stadium," Ellis said. "They may be angry and upset with us right now and that's understandable. But they've been great this year. Obviously the way the Oakland game went, they expressed their anger. Who wouldn't have?"

John Elway's role with the team: In an interview with Denver Post columnist Woody Paige in June, Elway said he would like to become involved with the Broncos as an "untitled adviser." That has happened.

"John's around," Ellis said. "He's been very helpful on our corporate business side. He's stopped by practice. He's stopped by to see Mr. Bowlen on occasions. He loves and cares about the Broncos as much as anybody. And his input on things is taken to heart."

McDaniels' future: McDaniels' coaching tenure began with a six-game win streak. But a historic fade in 2009 was followed by a horrendous start this season, leading to a 4-14 record over the past calendar year.

The list is long of NFL coaches who had successful careers despite slow starts, and includes names such as Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson, Tom Coughlin and Shanahan. Ellis believes McDaniels will right the ship.

"The guy that's probably closest to Pat in that race of competitiveness is the head coach himself," Ellis said. "Josh's total mission is to win.

"We're going through the bumps along the road that franchises go through from time to time, but we're not making excuses. Everybody has to put one foot in front of the other and work hard and play better. And win. Ultimately it's about results. And we all know that."




http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_16528413
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