Freud on the NFL: When does Elway start his latest comeback? | VailDaily.com

Freud on the NFL: When does Elway start his latest comeback?

It's hard to say if this is rock bottom.

Remember that New England is coming to town this weekend.

Rock bottom or not, it ain't good for the Denver Broncos, who got pasted by the Eagles, 51-23, on Sunday, Nov. 5.

Brock Osweiler apparently wasn't the answer, and Denver's defense gave out — at least, for one week — after keeping the team in it for most of this season.

We're past what can be done to fix things this year. Of course, Denver isn't Tom Brady's favorite place to play, but the Patriots won here last year.

There's talk of Paxton Lynch getting his shot, but is a guy who's lost the preseason twice to Trevor Siemian an immediate fix? Nope.

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The problem runs deeper, people.

Diving in

• The offensive line's been a mess for the last year and a half. This is not a mystery to anyone following the Broncos or the Broncos themselves.

General manager John Elway brought in Donald Stephenson and Russell Okung for 2016. This year, he rolled the dice with draft-pick Garrett Bolles and free-agent Menelik Watson.

We can't and shouldn't call Bolles a draft bust yet. But the offensive-line acquisitions have not been a rousing success.

• It is ironic that a team run by a great quarterback has no quarterback. We could all see that Peyton Manning was nearing the end of the road during 2015. Osweiler was meant to the heir. He took the money and ran to Houston temporarily, coming back via Cleveland.

In theory, the great hope is now Lynch, for whom the Broncos traded up in the 2016 draft, ahead of Dak Prescott (whoops), among others.

• What's going on with head coach Vance Johnson? I'm more of a blame-the-players guy. We aren't in the locker room, so we don't know if the coach is in control.

A safe bet is that the Broncos have a serious defense-offense divide in the locker room. That's probably been brewing for a while, so we're not putting this on Joseph.

On the other hand, is he a little bit out of his league?

• All three of the above factors have one thing in common — Elway. He's been in charge of the personnel, the quarterbacking situation and the coach. In a lot of organizations, going from Super Bowl champions to 6-10 during a two-year stretch might get the GM the gate.

This is Elway, though. More importantly than leading the Broncos to Super Bowl title two seasons ago, he is the all-time greatest Bronco. No. 7 in our programs and No. 1 in our hearts, if the guy ran for governor next year, he'd win with 90 percent of the vote.

Even if Broncos ownership wanted to make a change, it can't. Denver would have to be in the toilet for several years before we get to that.

Famous for his fourth-quarter comebacks, Elway looks like he'll have to pull off another one. This won't be as quick as the "The Drive" in Cleveland, but he needs to start making some moves.

Notables

• Injuries have just been devastating in the NFL this year. The Houston Texans are completely different team without Deshaun Watson, losing to the Colts. Meanwhile, the Packers, no surprise, are hurting without Aaron Rodgers and laid an egg against Detroit.

• Are the Eagles and the Rams the elite of the NFC? That was strange to type. Equally strange are the Vikings and Saints (both 6-2) leading their divisions.

• Stranger Things?: If the season ended today, the Jaguars and Bills would be the AFC wild cards.

On to Week 10.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.

Freud’s Fives

Top five

1. Patriots (6-2) … Annoying, but true.

2. Eagles (8-1) … Made believers out of the Broncos.

3. Rams (6-2) … Does anyone in L.A. care?

4. Steelers (6-2) … Still lurking.

5. Vikings (6-2) … Teddy Bridgewater might be back.

Bottom five

T1. Giants (1-7) and Niners (0-9) … They meet this week. Scoreless tie?

3. Browns (0-8) … Did not lose during bye week.

4. Bucs (2-6) … Sinking like a stone and Winston is out.

5. Blair Walsh (0-for-3) … Kicking should not be this hard.