|Eric Bakke / Associated Press|
|Broncos executive vice president John Elway is charged with the task of setting the football culture in Denver.|
I'm not sure whether the Broncos' new power structure will work, with John Elway as executive vice president, Brian Xanders as general manager and John Fox as coach. For now, both Elway and Xanders have plenty to prove, and Fox should be intriguing to watch in his second go-around after being fired by the Panthers.
But one thing that's certain is that the group is being well-received.
I spoke with Broncos president Joe Ellis about the set-up a couple months ago, and he was hopeful that Elway would learn on the job, and that they would find the right coach. In Ellis' mind, he now has answers in both those areas, and he thinks the fans are responding.
"There's a renewed sense of spirit in our building, but more importantly in our community, just in the hiring of John Elway and the bringing-on of an experienced coach who's got a lot of respect around the league and a lot of great qualities," Ellis said. "It's been a very good match for our organization. I did say to you a few months ago that (Elway) knew what he didn't know.
"But I think everybody's found out that he knows a lot more than we thought he might know."
What Ellis says he's found is a passionate football guy in Elway, and one who'd done a lot of groundwork to prepare for the position he's been thrust into.
Back in January, Ellis told me that Elway's job would be to set the football culture and make sure that side of the building was always pulling in the same direction. What he may not have known is how smoothly Elway would operate as an NFL executive.
"It's something I think he's planned for," Ellis said. "It probably took a lot longer to get to this point than he wanted it to, but now that it has happened, he has conducted himself like he certainly was ready for it and expected to succeed. And he'll be first to tell you, it comes down to performance on the field. We gotta win, and we all know that. But from what we've seen so far, he's setting the table the right way."
Denver has plenty of ground to cover going forward. The Broncos need to decide who their quarterback is and who it will be going forward (i.e. Is Tim Tebow the answer?), and will remake themselves defensively for the umpteenth time in recent years.
But what Ellis sees is exactly what he was looking for in the organizational facelift, and that's a group working as one.
"I think what he saw as a player when (Elway) was with the Broncos in the 80s and the 90s was a team that really conducted itself and behaved like a family," Ellis said. "I want us to get that feeling back, that unity back, where everybody has each other's back and everybody works together, and there's no hidden agendas and we're all on the same page moving forward. And I really think between he and John Fox and Brian Xanders, we've got that in place."
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