Part four of a six(?) part series. Part I Part II Part III
16. Denver Broncos: Surely the Broncos are better than this, right? At the time, the Broncos were a year removed from making three Super Bowls in four years; yes, they got their asses kicked all three times, but that’s still three more Super Bowls than you or I have been to. It’s also three more Super Bowls than Oilers, Eagles, Raiders, Chiefs, Dolphins, Vikings, Bears, or Bengals (note that I could go on, here) went to during that stretch. They would also get one game away from a fourth in the 1991 season, ultimately jobbing out to the Bills’ Sisyphean destiny. They must’ve been doing something right.
And yet, here sit the lowly Broncos – ranked 16 out of a possible 28 despite being one of the most successful teams of the era. What gives?
Seeing as it is universally acknowledged that QB John Elway was the key to the Broncos’ success in this era, let’s start with him. An examination of Elway’s stats shows a QB who…kind of sucks? He has a real cannon for an arm, but that Pass Control rating is, shall we say, less than ideal. His Accuracy of Passing rating is pretty good, but most of the people who mess around with ROM hacking TSB swear that stat is meaningless, and that’s good enough for me. When you pick up the game and play as Elway, you’ll immediately notice that he has a bizarre tendency to miss open guys and throw some truly baffling and bizarre incompletions, some of which end in picks. Why must the legendary John Elway suck so many donkey balls in such a legendary football video game?
I’m here today to tell you that despite all appearances and evidence to the contrary, John Elway does not suck in Tecmo Super Bowl. John Elway, in fact, kind of kicks ass. However, getting the most out of him requires mastering the art of what I like to call “Elway Things”.
What are Elway Things? Alas, I cannot provide a precise definition of Elway Things, and must fall back on that old saw about porn: I can’t define Elway Things, but I know them when I see them. Dropping straight back and immediately throwing to the open man is not Elway Things. Dropping back, rolling right, and throwing all the way across the field to a WR streaking down the left sideline? Now that’s Elway Things! Throwing on the run just before getting smacked from behind to a WR who has a guy on him, but also has separation? Also Elway Things. Getting flushed out of the pocket and chucking a dumpoff all the way across the width of the field? Buddy, you best believe that’s most certainly Elway Things. Master Elway Things, and you will make stupefying play after stupefying play after stupefying play. The likes of Bubby Brister can’t even sniff this kind of shit.
Elway Things are not an exact science, but in order to maximize Elway Things, try your best to throw either on the run or across the majority of the width of the field. It won’t always work, but then again, neither will dropping pack and passing out of the pocket with a ‘good’ QB. No risk it, no biscuit.
But alas, there’s the rest of the team. Goddamn these guys suck. RB Bobby Humphrey is fantastic, and you should be sure to run with him exclusively; Washington’s run plays are good for this. RB2 Steve Sewell is slower than mud but can catch, so keep him in the lineup and change the first couple of pass plays to match Houston’s. Be warned, however, that the offensive line blows, especially on the interior. I haven’t mentioned lines yet in this series because I haven’t had to, but this is one of the few teams where the line is a liability. When dropping back, be ready to roll out as soon as possible, lest you get sacked immediately.
And then there’s the defense, the true weakness of this team. There’s lots of barely average guys, and the rest are worse. Steve Atwater, however, is an incredible tackler, and his relatively high Interceptions rating makes him one of the finest ILBs in the game. So man, it sure fucking sucks that Atwater is the fucking free safety. His Interceptions rating is crap for a safety, but he can still hit, and since he’s the only person on this crew with anything approaching a uniquely gifted skill set you’re basically stuck with him. Focus on covering TEs and other underneath guys, when possible, and call pass plays on defense; again, Atwater can tackle, so rely on him to stop the run.
This team frustrates me to no end. I have a soft spot for the Broncos in real life, and I have a soft spot for the Broncos in Tecmo Super Bowl, but man, it’s so hard to love this team. There are teams a good deal further down the list that I’ve won the Super Bowl with, but Denver…still haven’t done it. Hell, I haven’t even made it to the Super Bowl. The defense always fails me in the playoffs, and then Elway and Humphrey inevitably do, too. At this point, I’m pretty sure I’m never gonna win with these guys, and it’s a shame. I’m working on a season with the Broncos as a write this, so all is not lost. Just almost all is lost.
Next time, I look at even more successful teams of the early 90’s who suck. Enjoy the Cowboys sucking while you can, kids – it’s all downhill from here.
3 thoughts on “Tecmo Super Bowl Teams, Explained: Special Denver Broncos Edition”
Elway things happen because the two interior linemen are soooo bad that every play is a scramble for Elway. I suspect other QBs would fit this description too if their line play was the same.