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John Elway
David Zalubowski, The Associated Press
Broncos general manager John Elway said the team had become “a little bit soft.”
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Will John Elway‘s criticism of the Broncos being “soft” unify or fracture the Broncos’ locker room?

Kiz: John Elway stuck a dagger in his team’s soul. And look what happened. The Broncos got embarrassed, losing 20-17 at home to a terrible Cincinnati team on Sunday. And running back C.J. Anderson cried in the locker room after the defeat. Were those tears “soft,” in Elway’s book? Anderson isn’t soft. Just about the worst thing you can call a football team is soft. How will the Broncos react to the boss’ criticism?

Jhabvala: I don’t think it will make a difference. Of the players who weighed in on Elway’s comments Sunday, many admitted they were taken aback but also agreed with his comments. They’re 3-7, after all. Others took it personally and disputed their GM’s assessment. For athletes that make a living on their grit and toughness, few words hurt more than “soft.” But Elway’s been in this long enough as both a player and executive to know the power of his words. My guess is that it was calculated, to both give coach Vance Joseph a vote of confidence and light a fire under his team. The fact of the matter is he runs the show. If the players fail to stick together, ultimately it will reflect in their play and put them on the hot seat.

Kiz: How old school can a quarterback be? When the Broncos got unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs by Indianapolis at the conclusion of the 2014 NFL season, Elway parted ways with coach John Fox and declared he wanted more “kicking and screaming” from his team. Physicality and mental toughness are great attributes in players. So is talent. Maybe, just maybe, Denver’s real problem in 2017 isn’t a poor attitude, but a lack of talent on the roster Elway has assembled.

Jhabvala: On defense? Nope. You’re telling me Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, Bradley Roby, Von Miller, Shane Ray, Domata Peko and Derek Wolfe comprise a group that lacks talent? Nah. Now on offense, I would agree they need more talent. The offensive line is still better than what it was in recent years, thanks primarily to the addition of Ron Leary. Their running backs have speed and power. But they need a franchise quarterback. Consider: Eleven of the Broncos’ 15 AFC West titles and seven of their eight Super Bowl appearances were achieved with either Elway or Peyton Manning.

Kiz: Here’s my guess. Elway reluctantly but angrily gave up on this group of Broncos after those humiliating back-to-back losses against Philadelphia and New England. His “soft” comment was a prelude to taking a heavy wrecking ball to the roster when this miserable season is done. Aqib Talib? Gone. Anderson? Adios. Elway wasn’t trying to rally the troops by challenging their manhood, he was issuing notice that the break-up of the Broncos has only just begun.

Jhabvala: The losses to the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals at home were much worse. Sure they were blown out by the Eagles and Patriots, but those are two of the NFL’s top offenses. The Giants and Bengals though? Unacceptable. Elway was honest and probably wanted to give his team a kick in the butt. But if the players and coaches didn’t think a break-up was looming after six consecutive losses — really bad losses — well, then they’re not paying attention. They know what’s at stake.

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