NFL

Grading the Week: Think your 2020 was awful? John Elway would like a word. – The Denver Post

At this point, it’s been well established that 2020 was the worst year ever.

No need to list off all the reasons why. Frankly, there isn’t enough space on the internet to fit it all.

We’ll just make the assumption that your 2020 was bad… as was the Grading the Week staff’s … as was just about everyone else’s.

John Elway — D+

That said, there’s a distinct possibility yours didn’t go nearly as poorly as John Elway’s.

Nevermind the fact that his Broncos finished dead last in the AFC West at 5-11, with his hand-picked quarterback (Drew Lock) regressing and his first-round pick (Jerry Jeudy) submitting a few regrettable stink bombs.

Throw out that he and team president/CEO Joe Ellis both got the ‘Rona, and that the season ended with Elway getting kicked upstairs to another role that took away his day-to-day handling of the Broncos roster

Instead, focus on what Mr. Elway accomplished between the months of January and March 2020, with a series of trades, signings and hires that can only charitably be described as duds. The hit list…

  • Hired Pat Shurmur as off. coordinator — Offense 23rd in yards per game (335.6) and 28th in points per game (20.2).
  • Traded 4th round pick for CB A.J. Bouye — Played seven games, was suspended for PED violation, cut in February.
  • Traded 7th round pick for DE Jurrell Casey — Appeared in three games, suffered season-ending injury, cut in February.
  • Signed G Graham Glasgow to four-year, $44M deal — Missed three games to COVID, played fourth-most snaps on OL (764), had second-most “bad” run blocks, but was fine in pass protection.
  • Signed QB Jeff Driskel to two-year, $5M deal — Backup started one game, was pulled for Brett Rypien before it ended and appears to be on borrowed time on Denver’s roster.
  • Signed P Sam Martin to three-year, $7.05M deal — The 10th highest-paid punter in NFL was 14th in average net yards.
  • Signed TE Nick Vannett to two-year, $5.7M deal — Appeared in 15 games, caught 14 balls for 95 yards, cut Tuesday.

That’s right, the biggest “win” from the first three months of 2020 was either signing a right guard who was just OK, or bringing in a punter who was slightly above average … and is a punter.

Vannett’s release this week put a nice little bow on the train wreck that was Elway’s 2020. That it came and went without much fanfare is an indication most Broncos fans have moved on from the Elway Era.

But we here at Grading the Week felt it deserved one last bit of recognition — if only to make us feel a little better about our own 2020.

Tim Connelly — A

This is what managerial competence looks like, folks.

Nuggets executive Tim Connelly saw an opening with Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis shelved by injuries, then made trades to maximize an MVP-caliber season from veteran center Nikola Jokic.

Will recent acquisitions Aaron Gordon or JaVale McGee put Denver over the top in the rugged Western Conference? Maybe. Maybe not.

But bringing in a pair of upgrades and finding a team to take oft-injured Gary Harris’ contract is impressive enough. That it was made possible by another master stroke pulled off during last year’s NBA draft — nabbing R.J. Hampton, the real carrot of the Gordon trade with Orlando — is only further evidence that this is a front office that knows what it’s doing.

Pac-12 — A

They called Bill Walton crazy.

Well, who’s making the acid flashback jokes now? (OK, we’re still making those jokes.)

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Pac-12 ran roughshod over anyone and everyone it encountered in the first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. If not for CU losing to Florida State in the Round of 32, the Conference of Champions would have kept alive Walton’s dream of having five Pac-12 teams in the Final Four (sort of).

As it was, the Pac-12 went 9-1 over the first two rounds. Not too shabby, especially in light of the showing put together by the Truck Stop League (aka Big Ten) — nine tournament bids and just one Sweet 16 team among them.

If only we had known, maybe our NCAA Tournament brackets wouldn’t currently be smoldering in the backyard burn pile.

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