Once upon a time, Broncos quarterback legend turned team executive John Elway could do no wrong. But the morning after his squad's 27-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers cemented Denver's first 0-3 start in twenty years, Number 7 has become a prime Twitter target, with the frustration of fans reaching a fever pitch.
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.
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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.
Elway, please swallow your pride and go. You were a great QB. GM...not so much. The Broncos have floundered for too many seasons now. It’s time to do what’s best for the team.— StephShine (@TheStephShine) September 23, 2019
@BarstoolBigCat BC, Broncos fan here. Elway stinks, completely trashing his legacy and there is no owner to keep him in check. Awful drafter, zero innovation (forcing a 1996 offense). Can’t wait for him to learn nothing from past mistakes and draft Herbert next year cuz he’s tall— Alex Q (@DenverBud) September 23, 2019
@PardonMyTake lifelong Broncos fan. I’m at the point where I can’t even wear my prized Elway throwback. At home. Around the people who love me. This needs to stop, John. I’m worried about you.— Adam Astleford (@amastleford) September 23, 2019
@ProFootballTalk @Broncos @MikeKlis @VicLombardi Time to fire Elway! He is responsible for this disaster. How does this team have zero sacks through 3 games. Elway era as Denver’s savior is over https://t.co/gjhlf3zgiz— Jerry Sloth (@FritzkeRichard) September 22, 2019
I’m actually praying the broncos go 5-11 this season so we can finally fire John Elway. #firejohnelway2020 let’s get these hashtags going people.— pain wade - the skrrp god (@whiteboystultsy) September 22, 2019
Elway should have embraced a full rebuild after Manning retired. This shit is hard to watch. Fangio’s defense is a lame duck after having one of the best last year. It’s just mind boggling. #broncos— Brett Lines (@BrettIstheboss) September 23, 2019
This is too easy #Broncos— Kent T McDonaldsson (@NFLMcDonalder) September 23, 2019
Bring in #Peyton Manning as VP GM
it would be a very short learning curve and you know #Peyton Manning would recognize a top QB
Shuffle #Elway off somewhere else to drink scotch
Peyton is rich but this is the one job he might take with FULL CONTROL pic.twitter.com/3ua8AS57kN
I love the Broncos and John Elway as much as anything but it’s time to act. Pat never accepted failure and was quick to make the franchise better. The trust is failing and these men are responsible. Let’s make the Broncos elite again. #BroncosCountry pic.twitter.com/UQOq3U07R3— BWEB87 (@bweb87) September 23, 2019
Broncos are trash. They’ve got to demote or fire Elway.— cockyhawkfan (@cockyhawkfan) September 22, 2019
Look, I get it..John Elway got a us a couple SBs and brought us Peyton Manning..but for the love of Christ how does this man still have a job with the Denver Broncos?! I’m sick of this cockamamie bullshit week in and week out.— Mike Crespin (@MikeCrespin3) September 23, 2019
How did the Broncos think it would be good to make Flacco the starter after an already 2 crappy seasons in a row. This all by Elway of all people. So bad. #NFL— JUNKKIAN (@JUNKKIAN) September 23, 2019
I’ve abandoned the Broncos (until they fire Elway, that is). I’m a Browns fan now. https://t.co/Gln2kIkDvy— emily (@driskillray) September 18, 2019
If you have a historically bad offensive line like the @Broncos have, you have to have an athletic QB that can move around and make something happen. Flacco and our line is the absolute worst possible combination. Elway’s choice in QBs is absolutely horrible for the line we have.— DJ Martinez (@DJMartinez06) September 23, 2019
I hope my Broncos go 0-16 so we can fire Elway and finally get a real QB— KingCozy (@KangCozy) September 22, 2019
The two QBs that are destroying the Broncos: Pat Mahomes and John Elway— Brett Wilson (@BrettWilson09) September 23, 2019
Broncos fans: “FiRe ElWay we are going 0-16!!”— Eshan Bhatt (@KingNugg_) September 18, 2019
7-9 is WORSE than 0-16. This team has no shot. The coaches are clueless. Elway hasn’t picked a half decent QB before or since manning. Ugggh. Sad— Yup, social media still sucks. (@Lapo13) September 23, 2019
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Broncos fans: “hey at least it can’t get any worse than last year.” Elway and The Broncos “hold my beer.”— H A D L E Y (@Haddllleyyy) September 23, 2019
I LOVE Elway as Broncos GM— D@rnell (@Mr_Darnell92) September 23, 2019