Denver Broncos Open Up Door For Kansas City Chiefs To Take AFC West


Denver has opened up the door for the Chiefs, and now it is time to walk through it.

In a series of remarkable events, the Denver Broncos are in the process of demolishing their team. John Elway essentially fired his entire coaching staff on Monday after his team failed to advance in the playoffs this weekend with a crushing loss to the Indianapolis Colts, 24-13.

Head coach John Fox, offensive coordinator Adam Gase, and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio are all gone. Fox is expected to interview with the Chicago Bears, Gase is thought to be near landing a job with the San Francisco 49ers, and Del Rio is on his way to for a second interview with the Oakland Raiders. The rest of the assistants were told they are free to look for jobs elsewhere, if not encouraged to do so.

Meanwhile, the future of Peyton Manning is highly in doubt. Aside from Manning’s drop off in performance and increasing age, the complete dismissal of the coaching staff has led some to think Manning may retire instead of trying to figure out a completely new coaching staff. Manning has never been a guy who favors change and instability, which leads many to believe retirement is a likely outcome for him come late February, early March.

Should Manning stay, an overhaul of the roster is likely coming, too. Denver has 12 pending free agents and not enough cap room to both re-sign all of them plus fix their roster holes. Those free agents include Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, Terrance Knighton, Orlando Franklin, Rahim Moore, Nate Irving, Jacob Tamme, and Will Montgomery.

A Manning retirement would mean the Broncos would pick up an extra $19 million in salary cap space but they would be left with Brock Osweiler as their starting quarterback. One wonders how inclined some of the Broncos offensive free agents would be to stay with the prospect of Osweiler being their starting quarterback.

Reality seems to be clear: The Manning Era in Denver is essentially done, even if Manning returns for one more season. And with the end of the Manning Era, the Chiefs have an incredible opportunity to take a stranglehold of the AFC West with a strong offseason.

Kansas City now has the head coaching advantage with Andy Reid, at least the second best quarterback in the division*, and the stability and infrastructure in the front office to build a quality roster. Add in the Chiefs’ stellar defense, 11 draft picks, and some flexibility with the salary cap, and the Chiefs have an incredible opportunity this offense to take over the AFC West.

The AFC West is there for the taking this offseason. The Chiefs have the people in place and the roster base to take the leap and take ahold of the division if they can have a strong offseason and fix the gaping holes at wide receiver, offensive line, and fix some depth issues.

Pressure is on, Reid and Dorsey. Don’t screw up.

*After Philip Rivers’ crazy start in the season’s first six games (117.6 passer rating), he finished the final 10 with a 81 passer rating and an even 16-to-16 touchdown/interception ratio. In December Rivers threw more picks than touchdowns, completed less than 60% of his passes, and had a 71.2 passer rating. From week three to week 16, Alex Smith had  17-to-3 touchdown/interception ratio and a 99.3 passer rating. 

Smith doesn’t have the upside of Rivers, but he doesn’t hit the lows you can get from Rivers.