ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos have wandered the we-didn't-make-the-playoffs wilderness for three seasons now, and it has turned one of the league's throw-deep executives into a one-day-at-a-time guy.
"I'm really at the point that we're going to take this thing one day at a time," Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said. "Obviously, it's been disappointing the last couple years, and I'm excited about the new staff and the new players we do have, but it's one step at a time. I'm just kind of -- I don't want to get too far ahead, but I'm excited with the guys that we have. But again, as I said, this thing is one step at a time, so we'll keep it that way."
That's a long way from his "there's no Plan B" statement after he signed Peyton Manning, but that's what 5-11 and 6-10 the past two seasons will do to you.
Elway's solution to the losing? Fix the offense this offseason. While he has said that the team needed more "continuity" in its offense to be better, the Broncos also simply faced a talent deficit. For the first time in his tenure, Elway has combined the most money spent in free agency with the team's premium draft picks on offense.
They traded for quarterback Joe Flacco, made Ja'Wuan James the highest-paid right tackle in the league and used the first three picks of their draft on offense, taking tight end Noah Fant, guard/center Dalton Risner and quarterback Drew Lock.
Fant and Risner figure to be starters by September. Elway has promised patience with Lock, but he called him the Broncos' "quarterback of the future" after the team traded up in the second round to select him.
"I think that, first of all, we improved in the offseason with the addition of Joe Flacco and bringing him in, and Ja'Wuan James at the right tackle," Elway said after the draft. "... Then going with Noah and Dalton with the first two picks, we feel like they can come in and help us also. ... Obviously, Noah can stretch the field. Joe's going to -- to me, we still believe he has tremendous upside in his career -- so we feel a lot better about that. ... We feel much better sitting here now today than we did coming out of last season with where we are and the additions that we've made."
Elway added coach Vic Fangio's staff to those changes, including offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello and offensive line coach Mike Munchak. The Broncos have hitched their hopes to an updated version of the West Coast offense that Scangarello brings with him after being on Kyle Shanahan's staff in San Francisco and to Flacco having some miles left on his career odometer.
But the Broncos have approached the past few months with a focus on a talent upgrade on offense. In three consecutive playoff misses, they haven't finished higher than 22nd in points scored or higher than 17th in yards per game, and they finished 28th and 31st on third down the past two seasons.
Fant, in particular, will be expected to give the Broncos a matchup they haven't had on offense in recent seasons with his 4.50 speed in the 40-yard dash.
"He was one of the first guys I watched, and obviously, he can run," Fangio said. "That was the first thing that jumps out at you."
Certainly, questions about Flacco, about the patience the Broncos will have with Lock and about two veteran starters -- wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and guard Ron Leary -- will remain unanswered until the 2019 season gets rolling. But the Broncos dove into the offseason trying to fix a quarterback problem and made it clear that they believed the talent around the list of departed quarterbacks (Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and Case Keenum) wasn't helping them much.
In a few months, we'll find out if they succeeded.