True, Elway has been put on blast at other times during the mediocre campaigns that have followed the Broncos' 2016 victory in Super Bowl 50 (and the subsequent retirement of Peyton Manning), as documented in posts from December 2017 and December 2018. But both of these roundups were published after months of soul-crushing defeats. As you'll discover by checking the nearest calendar, it's still September, yet even the most optimistic Broncos prognosticators are already looking at the glass as seven-eighths empty.
In some ways, that's unfair, since the Broncos' offensive performance yesterday was their best of 2019 — good enough, probably, to beat a mediocre opponent, if not one led by a quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) whose Hall of Fame bust is already on order. Quarterback Joe Flacco looked competent and professional when he wasn't on his back (he was sacked six times), running back Phillip Lindsay showed some of the form that led to him becoming the first undrafted rookie to ever make a Pro Bowl, and wide receiver Courtland Sutton is looking like a worthy successor to Demaryius Thomas. But the offensive line, exemplified by mega-bust Garret Bolles, remains a joke of the unfunniest sort, and not one, not two, but three turnovers (plus a missed extra point by Brandon McManus) spelled doom, particularly on the road at one of the toughest places to win in the NFL.
And the defense? Pundits aplenty predicted that the unit would be beastly thanks to new head coach Vic Fangio, an alleged mastermind of D. But three contests in, the Broncos have yet to record a single sack, and Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and the rest of their brethren consistently seemed a step slow owing in large part to a scheme that seems about as innovative as a flip phone.
Elway still has his defenders in the media and the public, as you'll see. But right now, they're being drowned out by a chorus of onetime loyalists for whom memories are no longer good enough. See what we mean by counting down our picks for the most memorable post-game tweets.