The Denver Broncos can’t seem to find a good quarterback. Peyton Manning was the last good playmaker and that was actually more the name than he performed well in Denver. Since Manning retired in 2015, quarterback position has become an ongoing problem. That’s a shame, because otherwise Denver has a good team.
The Broncos hoped to trade for a new quarterback this offseason. Aaron Rodgers was displeased and last season’s MVP had Denver high on his wish list. However, as expected, the Packers refused to sell their star player. Last week, Rodgers signed a new contract in Wisconsin and the Broncos can definitely put Rodgers’ arrival out of their minds; for this season then.
Plan B was Deshaun Watson. He also thought it was a good idea to come to Colorado. Only his private problems ensure that no club dares to burn itself on the quarterback of the Texans. That’s how the Broncos ended up with Plan C: Teddy Bridgewater. The quarterback for whom the Panthers were not required to have more than a sixth-round draft pick in return. They then brought Sam Darnold over Bridgewater as an upgrade. Bridgewater has shown in Carolina that it is not the solution and that will also be the case in Denver.
Outside of quarterback, the Broncos had a good off-season. With defensive backs Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, the team was able to strengthen the defense even further. The only setback was the loss of Ja’Wuan James. The right tackle trained in his own environment due to the corona measures and tore his Achilles tendon. An injury that also gets a legal tail. Because it didn’t happen at the club, the Broncos were allowed to tear up the $10 million contract. This to James’ understandable anger.
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The Broncos had the ideal opportunity to solve the quarterback problem in the draft. At the time Denver was allowed to choose ninth, Justin Fields and Mac Jones were still available. Two talented quarterbacks who are both a clear upgrade on paper compared to Drew Lock. However, the Broncos chose Patrick Surtain II. As well as Surtain will do, if the Broncos don’t get a good quarterback soon, this draft will always be judged for them by the success of Fields and Jones.
In the second round of the draft, the Broncos selected North Carolina’s Javonte Williams. The running back is to replace Phillip Lindsay, who left voluntarily for the Texans. Some analysts saw Williams as the best running back in the draft. If he lives up to that potential, he is definitely a steal. If this does not work, the choice will certainly be questioned; especially since the Broncos have traded up to pick Williams. This means that considerable investments have been made in a position where this is not really common.
Also in the later rounds, Denver seems to have found talent who can quickly improve the team. Quinn Meinerz is an off-the-radar offensive lineman who certainly has the potential to be a great starter in the National Football League (NFL). In the later laps Seth Williams (WR) and Jamar Johnson (S) were picked up. Players who certainly won’t start this season, but who will provide a wide roster and give the Broncos multiple options in their positions.
The Broncos have a full-blown attack. Especially now that the team has Courtland Sutton back. The Pro Bowl receiver was injured after just one game last year. With him back on the field, there should be more room for the other receivers. Jerry Jeudy in particular should benefit from this, as last season he was the receiver with the most yards, but also many missed catches due to the absence of Sutton. With good receivers there is also much more room for Noah Fant. The tight end is one of the most interesting players in the league, but his potential has not yet been realized.
The running game wasn’t really a weapon of the Broncos last year. That’s really annoying, because it could make the quarterback’s life a lot easier. Melvin Gordon III is confident of turning things around as the running back had a strong second half of the season and has already announced his intention to lead the league in rushing yards. With Lindsay’s departure, there’s room for rookie Williams to lighten Gordon’s workload and play some downs.
To achieve this, a good offensive line is important for Gordon and the rest of the attack. The offensive line has not been the strongest point of the attack in recent years; although there was some improvement in last season. This is mainly due to the strong season of Garett Bolles. The tackle was clearly motivated, as the Broncos had failed to activate the fifth year of his contract. Bolles became reserve All-Pro and received a four-year contract. The situation around James remains a disappointment, as he had the potential to play an important role before his Achilles tendon injury.
So the Broncos seem to have everything in order, except at quarterback, which is the most important position on offense. The battle in training camp is between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. Given the potential, it seems logical that Lock will get the chance to start, but the question is how much confidence he has after all the rumors that the Broncos would like to bring Rodgers or Watson to Denver.
There is hope with the Broncos that a full off-season and good preparation will help the squad move forward. Nearly all the key players have stayed and perhaps a training camp with no coronavirus restrictions will help coordinator Pat Shurmur properly train his attack and get the best out of Lock.
When you think of the defense, you immediately think of the Broncos defense that brought them to the Super Bowl. Those days are long gone, though Super Bowl MVP Von Miller is still a major force in defense. Miller signed a new contract with Denver and will be the center of the new defense.
A defense that had a lesser year last year, partly due to Miller’s injury. The team conceded nearly 28 points per game, more than a touchdown more than in 2019. There were also only 16 turnovers. That is partly why the team gave up more than thirty points for the first time since 1968 in four games in a row.
On paper, the defense looks good again this year. It is important that the players stay fit. Miller and Bradley Chubb were good for 26.5 sacks together in 2018, but have hardly been on the field together in the years since. Miller is now 32, so there are questions about the fitness of the natural leader of the squad.
The Broncos have also strengthened themselves considerably in other positions in the defense. Rookie Surtain owes it to his stand to be there immediately and Fuller and Darby are also direct additions to the defense. With the presence of safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, the Broncos secondary is seen as one of the strongest in the league.
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With Watson or Rodgers as quarterback, the Broncos would be an instant title contender in the AFC, but Drew Lock is still the quarterback and Teddy Bridgewater otherwise. Although Lock has shown his potential in some matches, he has not been able to live up to expectations. Meanwhile, the pressure has only increased, while the quarterback’s self-confidence must also have taken a dent. He must have heard and read the rumours.
In the end, the Broncos have strengthened and they should do better this year than last year. It’s not going to be enough for the playoffs, though, and Broncos fans will spend all season wondering what happened with Justin Fields as quarterback.