ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** The Broncos have not had many years where they haven't deliver on expectations, and President and CEO Joe Ellis remembers them well.
"Every time you have a season like this, you should never forget [it]," Ellis said. "… I've never forgotten 2010, and I won't forget this. I remember 7-9 in 2007. I remember 6-10 in 1999, my second year here, after we had gone 14-2 and breezed through the playoffs and won the Super Bowl."
Seasons like these, Ellis said, are reminders. They remind him to work harder or have more intense scrutiny, and they remind him what could happen more often if the organization doesn't maintain the standard to which it has held itself over the years.
"It just creates a greater sense of urgency, and then you have to maintain it," Ellis said. "You can't just say, 'OK, we've gotten to 2018, and this happened or that happened.' There are no guarantees what happens in 2018. I can assure you we will do everything we can in the next six months [or] seven months to get things back on track."
As part of that initiative, Joe Ellis walked through the parking lots at Sports Authority Field at Mile High three weeks ago, talking with fans and listening to the concerns and criticism they had for the team.
The feedback largely centered on the team's roster or the status of the stadium's naming rights, but it certainly wasn't limited to those topics.
Ellis had been a little apprehensive about the reaction he'd receive, as the team wouldn't break its eight-game losing streak until after that game, but the fans were cordial and honest, and he walked back to the stadium with a greater understanding of what worried them.
"It was appreciative criticism," Ellis said. "They were glad to be able to express it. It was wide-ranging, as I would have expected. But a lot of the fans recognize the history of the team, especially under Mr. [Pat] Bowlen and his terrific ownership, and the success that we've had. But there are expectations. They haven't changed, and they shouldn't. Our fans should always expect greatness out of this organization.
"And if we don't deliver it, then we better figure out each and every year how to."
As part of addressing that, Ellis has noticed a sense of complacency in light of recent achievements. Ending that mindset has become a focus for him as he helps steer the Broncos back to reaching its standard.
"Expectations are fine. We should always have them, but we shouldn't make assumptions," Ellis said. "I feel like there are times where I just get a sense that as an organization maybe we're looking at a slogan on the wall, three [Lombardi] trophies in the locker room or Super Bowl banners at a stadium facing our audience. We kind of assume that is the way it's going to be. If I let that creep into the organization, then I am the one that has to stop that mindset. I talked to [President of Football Operations/General Manager] John [Elway] about it. I talked to [Head Coach] Vance [Joseph] about it. They understand. We had good discussions. I'm going to talk to a lot of people in the organization about it in the next month. I feel responsible that I allow that. I'm not saying it's wide-spread, but if it is in there, and my sense is that at times it became that way, that needs to stop."