Bronco’s Country is in quite an uncomfortable and unusual position right now. It wasn’t long ago at all that Peyton Manning, D-Ware and Miller lead the Denver Broncos to that magical SB50. A win that feels like yesterday in some regards but it also feels like 50 years ago at times.
There is no need to go through the misery of 2016 and 2017 seasons. We all know what happened. We should be looking towards OTAs, training camp and the pre-season asking ‘What should we expect from this Franchise in 2018?’
What should we expect from the Denver Broncos franchise in 2018?
I expect most Bronco fans will be split down the middle in how to answer this.
I think we’d all agree you’d struggle to call Denver a serious contender at this very moment. The results are the key and last year we lost 11 games in an amateurish fashion. We were making mistakes that high school football teams don’t make versus the very best in the world.
“For lack of a better phrase, it’s simply been embarrassing.”
We were destroyed by the worst team in the NFC (NY Giants), Lost again in humiliating fashion to the Bengals and Dolphins. This team not only went 5-11; they were not even a particularly good 5 win team.
Alternatively, The 2016 and 2017 seasons were an embarrassment because of pathetic quarterback play – Our best QB in 2017 was a man who the Denver Broncos made throw the first ever fumble in the 2016 season for the Houston Texans – Former Cleveland Brown, Brock Osweiler.
That has now been addressed by John Elway and Co but it remains to be seen whether Case Keenum is the player to really fill that role, especially when you consider most fans wanted Kirk Cousins or Baker Mayfield to take the reigns.
Jared Veldheer addresses a major hole at right tackle, although many fans, including myself, wonder if it is enough to improve on the turnstiles we’ve had playing the last couple of years.
That said, many are forgetting we still hold the keys to mid-season pick-up J.J. Dielman. A player coveted heavily by the Broncos backroom.
Many will tell you that the Broncos WR corps is awful. I would argue that the bad QB-play set us back quite a bit but on the surface, we do have some of the best wideouts in the NFL.
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanual Sanders are both incredible players who have dominated the league for the past few years (minus 2017). Along with that, we’ve added Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton (Who I expect to be a candidate for offensive ROTY) who will offer some real threat in depth for us.
Not to mention we still have Carlos Henderson. If any of those 3 young guns break out for the Broncos it’ll relieve the pressure and double teams on both the two veterans (Sanders and Thomas), hopefully increasing the offensive output.
I think it’s fair to say that the Denver Broncos have legitimate concerns at RB and TE moving forward in terms of proven experience. However, I’m of the opinion that we make up for that in young, exciting talent. Booker, Freeman, Henderson & Lindsay all have potential to be real stars in this league whilst Jake Butt is going to rip this league up like Travis Kelce.
Tight-End Depth Could be a Real Problem
I’m a little concerned about TE depth but I hold some faith in the fact that Bill Musgrave doesn’t exactly over-use his tight end sets. Hopefully keeping our young stable relatively fresh throughout the season.
I don’t think there’s a person on this planet that would have argued against the Bradley Chubb selection. It’s a solid pick that barring injury I expect to be as much of a sure thing as Quenton Nelson.
Chubb gives Von Miller a pathway to be more successful with opposing teams now needing to gameplan for the most dominant pass rush in the NFL (on paper). The Denver Broncos also still have Shane Ray, Shaq Barrett and Demarcus Walker under contract – all 3 guys who can make some serious noise this upcoming season.
Although losing Aqib Talib is going to seriously harm this secondary in the short-term, I expect the Denver Broncos defence to still be riding every category in the top 5.
The signing of Cravens, moving Stewart back to his natural position & Simmons incredible development should be able to cope without Talib as I imagine Simmons moving to the slot and Harris moving outside in Nickel sets whilst Cravens then covers in at safety for Simmons.
Biggest Area of Concern for the Denver Broncos
We’re now left with the infamous special teams and the lacklustre coaching so-far of Vance Joseph. We were all frustrated with the number of turnovers the team made in 2017 and we were also further disappointed by the lack of quality displayed from Isaiah McKenzie to keep hold of the ball and the coaching staff’s inability to remove him from the game.
The Denver Broncos so far this offseason have spoken heavily of ‘accountability’. It’s something the team struggled with in 2017. Everything was always someone else’s fault.
Needless to say, hopefully, the coaching staff is as aware of this as we are by now and those days are in the past (I hope). Bill Musgrave now carries incredible pressure as he looks to put together a playbook that the team can understand and that plays to the strengths of Keenum, Butt, Booker, Royce, Sanders, Thomas, Hamilton & Sutton.
Musgrave’s task is to create an offence that hasn’t sucked since mid-2014.
If the defence can continue its known-for domination, a very average offence should be enough to keep the team in contention. The plan should be to use our defence for field position and minimise turnovers. Given the recent past, that seems like a tall order.
If you take a look at the Vegas under/over odds many predict the Broncos to be between 7 and 8 wins next season. I don’t think that’s a particularly unfair prediction. Our schedule is favourable, and our team is now more befitting of our 2015 defensive dominance.
So is it really that far of a statement to claim the Broncos have a team on the cusp of the playoffs?
I imagine we’ll be somewhere in the middle. Keenum will be fine but perhaps not spectacular (Bortles 2017 form would be the standard). I’m expecting the O-line to continue it’s solidity through the middle but once again I expect us to struggle against the outside rush and I believe our defence will continue to improve to the point where 2 or 3 more wins is the bare minimum expectation heading into 2018 season.
Key Predictions for 2018:
- Case Keenum will produce good numbers but slightly less than 2017
- Bradley Chubb will walk his way to Defensive Rookie of The Year
- Von Miller will break 20 sacks
- DaeSean Hamilton will come close to topping 1,000 yards
- Royce Freeman cements himself as the team’s cowbell back
- Devontae Booker’s production improves
- The Denver Broncos Secondary gets outclassed on a couple of occasions
- Chad Kelly earns himself the role of backup QB
- Jake Butt will prove himself to be the brightest spark of the Broncos offence with 10TDs
If I’m setting the bar for this team then it will be set at a minimum of 10 wins and a playoff win for Vance Joseph to keep his job. We’re a franchise built on winning tradition, a 3rd successive season without a standout record will begin to change that winning mentality mindset.
At times it won’t be satisfying, but sometimes you must crawl before you can walk. Prove me wrong, Denver.