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It Was a Rough Decade for the Broncos

February 12, 2010

It’s a new off-season for the Broncos, and there is plenty of hope, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a look back on the last decade of Broncos football. Last decade the Broncos went 93-67. On paper the Broncos didn’t do all too bad. But the team has only 1 playoff win in that span, and only one AFC West crown. In the past 10 seasons, Denver has missed out on the playoffs 6 times, and has 4 playoff losses.

Like I said, there is plenty of hope, a brand new off-season but if we really want to move forward, we need to understand what has been going wrong. Here is a quick overview of the decade:

Broncos 2000 Season: 11-5, second place in the AFC West. The Broncos made the playoffs, but lost in the Wild Card round. Just 2 years after their Super Bowl wins, the Broncos were on the verge of a collapse.

Broncos 2001 Season: 8-8 and third in the AFC West. The Broncos didn’t make the playoffs for the fist time since John Elway retired. Ed McCaffrey broke his legs in the Broncos season opener against the Giants, and Terrell Davis had arthroscopic surgery on both knees. The Broncos had officially fallen apart, from their Super Bowl greatness.

Broncos 2002 Season: 9-7, second in the AFC West. Denver missed the playoffs, but was on the right track. Terrell Davis retired in pre-season, but Rookie Clinton Portis was a perfect fill-in. The Broncos organization had much optimism going into 2003.

Broncos 2003 Season: 10-6, second in the AFC West. Denver would make it back to the playoffs with new quarterback Jake Plummer, but would fall again after a crushing Wild Card loss.
Broncos 2004 Season: 10-6, Wild Card again, lost again. The Broncos hadn’t won a playoff game since John Elway, and the Broncos were brushed off as just another team in the mix, even after two good seasons.

Broncos 2005 Season: 13-3, won the AFC West. Denver finally won the AFC West, and even won a playoff game! But a loss in the Championship game was the beginning of hard times to come for the Broncos.

Broncos 2006 Season: 9-7, Second in the AFC West. The Broncos missed the playoffs in ‘07, and it was a hard year for the team and the fans. Quarterback Jake Plummer was benched mid season, as Mike Shanahan named Rookie kid quarterback Jay Cutler starter. The new quarterback brought hope back to Denver. He would also bring much stress for fans in the future.

Broncos 2007 Season: 7-9, Didn’t make the playoffs again. In 2007 Darrent Williams died on New Years Day. That set the tone for a sad year for the Broncos. Jay Cutler’s wild style of play excited fans, while scaring the coaches with what he would do next. Cutler had mad skill, but still hadn’t proved he was a winner.
Broncos 2008 Season: 8-8, Second in the AFC West. After the Broncos missed the playoffs for a third straight year, Owner Pat Bowlen decided it was time for a change. The Broncos fired Mike Shanahan after 14 years of Coaching for the Broncos. Then they brought in Josh McDaniels. “MCD” was quick to get on the fans bad side by trading Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler to the Bears. Without Cutler, and with a new defense, the Broncos were predicted to have one of their worst seasons ever in 2009.

Broncos 2009 Season: 8-8, Second in the AFC West. The Broncos “shocked” the football world after starting 6-0 in 2009. But Denver would crash back to reality quickly, losing 5 straight, then finishing .500 and missing the playoffs for the 4th straight year. The Broncos have many questions entering 2010.

So there’s some food for thought on what went wrong. We ended up finishing second in the AFC West, and crashing in the Post Season almost the entire season. This off-season the Broncos will have to make some serious changes if they want to avoid another such decade. But I’m looking toward 2010 with optimism, and hope. As always, Go Broncos!!!

Jon Krause is a contributer to Bronco Madness. View more on the 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 Broncos’ seasons at his blog BroncosZone.

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