Elway and Shanahan are the biggest gamblers in the NFL | PostIndependent.com

Elway and Shanahan are the biggest gamblers in the NFL

Sports Geek
Jeff Sauer
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Jeff Sauer

John Elway and Mike Shanahan are rolling the dice.

They used to be close friends off the field, and both have admitted that, without each other, they probably wouldn’t have won back-to-back Super Bowls together in the late ’90s.

Now, they’re worlds apart, apparently still feuding over a retirement decision, while one enters his second year as the executive vice president of the Denver Broncos, and the other continues to coach the hapless Washington Redskins.

Both of them know full well about taking the necessary risks needed to win in today’s NFL.

For Elway, it’s in with the old and out with the new, as he dumped the popular, up-and-coming Tim Tebow for the aging superstar, Peyton Manning.

This is not usually a tried and true recipe for success, but in this case, the Broncos are in the right, chasing down the free agent of the decade.

People have short memories and forget just how good Manning is, mainly because he sat out last year, but we’re talking about one of the top four quarterbacks in the league and a future Hall of Famer, so why not?

The odds of the Broncos winning the Super Bowl jumped from 75-1 to 10-1 in Las Vegas soon after Manning selected Denver as his landing spot.

It didn’t take long for Tebow to find a new home with the New York Jets, where he should get a chance to replace Mark Sanchez (26 turnovers last year) at some point next season. The pressure cooker in New York will again get the best of Sanchez, and the chants for Tebow will come, just as they did in Denver.

The whole player-swapping whirlwind is incredibly taxing for the fans, making player loyalty an iffy proposition. And so it goes, as Vonnegut said.

Shanahan, so enamored with the chance to draft Robert Griffin the third, pulled a “Ditka” by trading away three No. 1 draft picks and a second-rounder, essentially mortgaging a large chunk of the Redskins’ future, just to get their guy now. Big gamble, but well worth the risk.

RG3 has pinpoint accuracy (72.4 completion percentage his senior year), blazing speed (runs a 4.3-second 40) and, much like the only player that will be drafted ahead of him – Andrew Luck – Griffin is on the high end of smart. Think Cam Newton, but much better.

Shanahan’s boldness just made the Redskins relevant again and he bought himself some job security in the process. Smart guy.

Elway will continue to tweak his team to fit Manning.

Adding former Colt teammate Jacob Tamme, along with fellow tight end Joel Dreessen, immediately changes their offensive scheme. The Broncos only completed 30 passes to tight ends last season. Dreessen and Tamme will surpass those numbers before October rolls around.

The only question remaining on the offensive side of the ball for the Broncos is Mike Wallace.

Signing the restricted free agent from Pittsburgh would give Denver the best deep threat receiver in the game, but acquiring him comes with a hefty price tag.

The Steelers can match or better any offer Wallace receives, but they’re tight against the salary cap. Should the Broncos offer him a heavy, front-end loaded contract that the Steelers can’t afford, the Broncos would have to give the Steelers their first-round pick in next month’s draft.

Again, a gamble the Broncos should take.

Jeff Sauer is a longtime western Colorado resident and former Roaring Fork Valley resident. He can be reached at soprisjeff@yahoo.com.

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