The Broncos had lost their 11th game Sunday, officially closing out the frustrating trek through the 2017 season that started with such high hopes and finished so far below expectations. But Elway thanked the team's fans on social media, offering, in part, "this wasn't the season anyone expected, but we'll learn from it and be better because of it."
He added, "Our 2018 season starts today."
The first major move of what figures to be a long list of offseason transactions was to announce Vance Joseph would be retained as the team's coach. Joseph was hired less than a calendar year ago, but the 5-11 finish meant Joseph and Elway had a lot to talk about at a Monday morning meeting.
It was a similar meeting after a disappointing home playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts to close out the 2014 season that spelled the end of John Fox's time with the Broncos. Though many with the Broncos said Sunday night that they felt Joseph would be back if he could convey to Elway what his plan would be moving forward, Elway and Joseph still had to sit down face-to-face, shake hands and come out fixing.
That is done, Joseph is off the rumor mill, and now he and the Broncos can get down to the business of repairing their team. The latest edition of the Broncos didn't always play disciplined, didn't always look prepared and didn't always respond to adversity -- they had an eight-game losing streak and lost eight games by at least 10 points, four by at least 20.
Joseph and his coaches are in that stew of disappointment, but the players almost universally supported him after Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Chiefs and have also been particularly honest much of the time about what happened.
"Coming with a veteran locker room, with talent, I think it's on us as players, we didn't hold up our end of the bargain to help V.J. and all the coaches," running back C.J. Anderson said Monday. "I can promise you sitting right here, you can put it on record, [when] he gets a second chance our record won't be 5-11, we won't have a losing season."
Or as Chris Harris Jr. put it: "We just didn't play good ... simple as that. We all have to fix it, us and the coaches."
If you're looking for two big-ticket items on the to-do list, go with offense and edge.
Offense as in find a quarterback, of course, but the Broncos simply have to decide what they want to be on offense and stick with it, draft for it, build around it. This team's offensive line has been an offseason question for five years, including this one.
Again, just four of the nine offensive linemen on the roster for Sunday's finale were Denver draft picks, and they did not finish the season with a homegrown prospect at the position on their practice squad.
Until the Broncos can protect their quarterbacks and play an offense that suits their personnel wire-to-wire for a season, they won't develop any of those quarterbacks. They might like some of what Paxton Lynch did Sunday, but he's been sacked 18 times in five games over two seasons.
Sure, some of that is the fault of the quarterbacks, but some of it isn't. It will go together for the Broncos moving forward.
Then the Broncos need to regain their edge. All season the team's older, more established players were suddenly in parental mode, lamenting the younger generation.
Whether it's leadership of those veteran players or the kind of young players the Broncos find, that, too, needs attention. There needs to be a little more tough love in the building -- the players say this privately -- and that can come from Joseph.
Players love Joseph's honesty and his willingness to tell it to them straight. But the Broncos need to address problems more quickly before small ones get to be big ones.
But that's all for the weeks to come. A team that has had way too much change for a playoff hopeful got a hint of stability Monday as Joseph got the second chance his players said he deserved.