ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – ** There is no plan B, according to John Elway.
Plan A is to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Denver. Elway will do whatever it takes to make that happen.
"To be able to be successful in this league, as hard as it is, and to be able to compete for more championships, it's hard," said the team's Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager during his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday. "And to be able to accomplish that, it's something that lasts for a lifetime. So I look at my job and that's why I get excited about my job because obviously it's a disappointing end but I get excited about my job now because now I know we've got a chance to figure out a way to get better."
In Elway's four years with the team, he has spearheaded a turnaround, as he inherited a 4-12 team. He and John Fox joined forces after that 2010 season and, since then, the Broncos have tied for second-most regular-season wins in the league.
That's not enough for the Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion.
In his press conference, Elway noted that he feels very good about the team's roster and that it's "relatively young."
"We're going to have eight or nine picks in the draft next year," he said. "We've got a good base of guys for the most part, with the exception of a couple Thomases (WR Demaryius Thomas and TE Julius Thomas) and a couple other guys we'll work on once we get through the coaching search to be able to tie them down [and] hopefully have them back. So I feel great about our football team."
The 2014 Broncos were the only team in the NFL to finish the regular season in both the top five in total offense and total defense. They went undefeated at home, won their fourth-consecutive division title and were the AFC's No. 2 seed.
But he noted that this team peaked too early this season.
After winning two of his five Super Bowl appearances as a player, Elway knows very well the difference between a team that can get to the Super Bowl versus a team that can win it. He calls it "a huge jump."
"I was fortunate to be able to see the difference and how that worked and how good you had to be as a football team and how well you had to be playing at that time to be a World Champion," Elway said. "Because the team you're going to play is going to be a great, great football team, no matter what league or Super Bowl."
He continued, raising his hand incrementally higher, "I've always said, to win the division it's here, to win the conference it's here, to get to the Super Bowl it's here and then to win a Super Bowl it's here. I believe that because I've been there and I've seen the difference.
"So I do believe that there is a huge jump from just getting there and having the ability to win it."
Elway will look for a coach that is "aching to win world championships like I am."
While the Broncos' roster is littered with players whose contracts are up, their coordinators are interviewing for head coaching positions elsewhere and they are searching for a head coach, Elway is confident in the direction of the team.
The team came close two years in a row and believes the team didn't get knocked out "kicking and screaming" on Sunday. He aims to turn that around.
"We have a bunch of people upstairs on the personnel side that are looking forward to working their tails off and we are going to have a tremendous draft, we are going to get busy on free agency and to continue to try to sift through all the players that are out there in free agency hoping to be able to add some people that will make us a better football team," Elway said. "So looking forward, it's exciting. As I said, [there are] a lot of exciting candidates out there that are going to give us an opportunity to make us a better football team."
He spoke to several players as they left the facility following Sunday's loss and he had a message for them.
"I said, 'I've sat in your chair before and I've played before,' and I said, 'The way that I look at it, having sat in your chair and the chair I'm in now, my job is to give you the best opportunity to win a World Championship. And that's what I want to do.' So to give these players that chance, a couple times that I've talked to the team, I've emphasized the work that they have to put in to be World Champions, it's all worth it," Elway said.