The Broncos success since their winning of Super Bowl 50 has been poor to mediocre at best. They have rotated through several quarterbacks with none standing out as a future talent. Their defense has still been one of the best in the league throughout the years but they can only do so much to help score points. The Broncos ranked 28th this past season in total offense and were ranked 28th in total offense during the 2019 season.
This stagnant disappointing offense has led to major changes in the front office and on the field. John Elway, the former general manager, left his role and the team announced the hiring of George Patton to that role this past offseason. The expectations are still high for Patton after being relatively successful within the Vikings front office. The standards in Denver are always playoffs or bust and time will tell if he can fill Elway’s shoes as GM.
First and foremost the season relies on Drew Lock and his improvement as a starting quarterback. The team brought in veteran Teddy Bridgewater to give him competition. They hoping that this can help Lock step his game up slightly and finally have a successful season in Denver. Bridgewater is a very reliable quarterback and if need could start and possibly lead this team to the playoffs. The front office, I believe, and the fans truly want Lock to win this starting job and become the face of the franchise. He was off to a solid start in preseason week one as he went 5/5 with 152 yards and 2 TDs in his limited playing time. This included an 80-yard bomb over the defense and directly into the hands of K.J. Hamler.
Von Miller is another player who could have a large impact on this season and the Broncos’ future. He is returning this season after an ACL tear. He has looked great in training camp and wants to win as much as he ever has. There have not been many games where Miller and Chubb have been lined up on defense together. Injuries have hurt the Broncos lately the past few seasons and fans have yet to see the full potential of this team. A full-strength Broncos pass-rush is something no team wants to see.
The secondary of the Broncos is by far their biggest strength this season. The signing of Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, the drafting of Patrick Surtain II, along with the extensions to Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons arguably create the best secondary in the league. Bryce Callahan will also be back after missing most of last season due to various injuries. This group of players has the potential to be as good if not better than the group Denver had during its Super Bowl-winning season. Simmons is possibly the best safety in the NFL and Jackson fits in flawlessly with what the team wants to do.
The acquisitions of multiple starting-caliber corners is a fantastic start to Patton’s reign as GM. Surtain has looked unbelievable at camp and even had a pick-six during the first preseason game. The depth that has been put together in the secondary gives the Broncos a chance in any game. Consistent growth and improvement within Coach Fangio’s system will be something to watch out for with the new players
Key players/personel Continued
The wide receiver group for the Broncos is absolutely stacked as well for this season. The return of Sutton will help Lock greatly. Jeudy, Hamler, and Patrick will all get large amounts of playing time and can all make plays. Noah Fant has been a star in training camp and looks like he could be worth the first-round pick that Denver used on him. The health of all these players will be a huge factor in the improvement of the offense.
Next, the offensive line will be critical to the improvement of Drew Lock and the offense itself. Garret Bolles has become an absolute stud after struggling his first few seasons in the league. He is an anchor on the left side of the line and should continue his great play. Risner and Glasgow are both super solid at both guards spots and the chemistry will continue to build.
The third-round pick from the 2020 draft, Lloyd Cushenberry, was decent his first season as a starter and will continue to build on that. The struggle for this group will be at the right tackle position. Ja’Wuan James was supposed to be the starter but hurt himself in a private workout. This lead to a saga of events resulting in his release from the team, James filing a lawsuit, and then signing a new deal with the Ravens. The starting RT will probably be Bobby Massie who has bounced around the league and can bring a veteran presence to a younger offensive line.
This season will determine the future of the coaching staff as well. Fangio is entering his third year as head coach and has not truly lived up to expectations. Pat Shurmur’s hiring as OC is still questionable as he was pretty poor in his play-calling in 2020. I would not be surprised if Patton cleans house if this season ends in more mediocrity just like the last few. The highlight of the coaching staff is Mike Munchak. He has led to the development of Bolles and could be part of the future for this team. Eric Bienemy is a person I would personally love to see take over as the Broncos coach. He brings a lot to the table that I don’t personally think the staff has now.
Ultimately, I believe this season rests on the shoulders of Drew Lock. He has shown flashes of fantastic potential and just needs to be more consistent with his decision-making throwing the ball. Consistent scoring and maintaining the health of players are the two big keys that the team needs to succeed in to have a great season. The defense should once again rank within the top 5 defenses in the league. The offense will just need to put up enough points to maintain leads and close out games which have been a struggle the past few seasons.
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