Upon Further Review: Colorado’s Most Disappointing Downturns in Sports | Broncos

The day after every Broncos game, digital sports editor Chris Schmaedeke shares his best observations from the game

Many Colorado teams had expectations, but no team has them like the Denver Broncos.

This is a state of the Broncos. A Broncos region. It’s Broncos country.

This team has won three Super Bowls. It has quarterbacks with names like John and Peyton. Trainers with names like Shanny, Red, Kubes and even Foxy. They have two Hall of Fame running backs – one was called “The Franchise” while the other is simply called TD.

This team matters. At least that’s what they use.

Pre-season expectations were once again placed on the Denver Broncos. New exciting young offensive coach. A future Hall of Famer quarterback came to rescue us from the QB chasm. A talented GM had created a roster of stars.

With all that said, the Broncos go 2-5 to London.

But are the Broncos the biggest downturn in Colorado sports history? Are they the most disappointing team that had a lot of hype but fell flat?

Let’s look back.

Nuggets in the mid-1990s: Denver was the talk of the NBA after becoming the first No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the first round. The team was full of young talent including Dikembe Mutombo, LaPhonso Ellis and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. The season after defeating Seattle, the Nuggets made the playoffs again, 41-41, but were swept by the Spurs. Mutombo remained at liberty and Ellis was never healthy. Denver didn’t make the playoffs again until 2004.

Broncos 2006-07: Led by Jake Plummer, the Broncos made it to the 2005 AFC title game and had great chances of reaching the Super Bowl. Everything fell apart in that AFC title game against Pittsburgh and coach Mike Shanahan decided to make some changes. He drafted quarterback Jay Cutler in the first round, which immediately bothered Plummer. Plummer started the first 11 games before Shanny switched to the Cutler. Denver was 7-4 when Cutler became the starter. They finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Shanahan was fired a few seasons later and it wasn’t until 2011 before the Broncso made it through the postseason again.

2008 Rockies: Colorado had a magical run to the 2007 World Series before losing to the Boston Red Sox. The next season there was some hype about a team featuring Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton and some exciting young pitchers. The Rockies went 74-88 and missed the playoffs. Colorado was back in the 2009 postseason but lost in the Divisional Series. The Rockies made it back to the playoffs in 2017.

2009-2010 Nuggets: This is a difficult question. Coach George Karl led the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals the year before, falling to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Denver looked even stronger the next season, battling for the top spot in the Western Conference for most of the season. Then there was Karl diagnosed with treatable neck and throat cancer and was not on the team. Denver fell from second to fourth in the west under assistant coach Adrian Dantley, including a 7-7 record at the stretch. This experienced team had Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin but lost to the Utah Jazz in the first round. Anthony was traded the next season. The Nuggets made the playoffs over the next three years but never made it out of the first round. Denver returned to the playoffs in the 2018–19 season.

Patrick Roy trained Avalanche: The legendary goalie should lead the Avs off the bench and back to glory. It was starting to look so good. In his freshman season, Colorado rocketed to 112 points and the top spot in the Western Conference. A talented young squad, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly were on the team, ready to make some noise in the playoffs. They didn’t when they fell to the Minnesota Wild in the first round. Colorado didn’t make the playoffs for the next two years of Roy’s tenure before abruptly retiring. This, of course, started a chain of events that led to the Avs winning the 2022 cup.

The difference with the 2022 Broncos is that they haven’t really proven anything. All these other teams won a bit and showed promise. These Broncos have been hyped since January and never did anything.

We hyped them too much, but that’s all still disappointing. The Nuggets and Avs took time but recovered from their falls. The Rockies have really taken their time, but have made it to the playoffs since the Broncos won Super Bowl 50.

Will the Broncos’ inflated expectations lead to more success in the future?

Only time can tell.


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