On February 7, 2016 the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers to win Super Bowl 50. It was the third time that the Broncos hoisted the Lombardi trophy in their history. But since that third Super Bowl victory, the Broncos haven’t been able to make it back to the playoffs; in 2016 the Broncos posted a record of 9-7, in 2017 5-11, in 2018 6-10, and currently in 2019 they sit at 3-6 at week 11. There are many reasons as to why the Broncos have fallen out of the playoff picture. Denver has become a team that has fallen short of the playoffs, so what can they can do in order to get back to a championship contending team?
After Denver won Super Bowl 50, they lost many key members to their championship winning team. The biggest loss to the team was future hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning to retirement. Even though Manning had one of the worst seasons of his career in his final year, he still brought much needed leadership to this team that helped them win Super Bowl 50. After Manning’s departure it has been a revolving door of quarterbacks for the Broncos. President of Football Operations and General Manager of the Broncos, John Elway, has struggled be able to bring in quarterback talent. Which is ironic because Elway is considered to be one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Since Manning the Broncos have used Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, and now Brandon Allen. All have under performed while under center, and Allen made his first career start in week 9 and won by throwing for 193 yards and two touchdowns in a victory against the Cleveland Browns. While he played well, we can’t expect this trend will continue after just one performance. We will have to seen him perform at this level for the rest of the season, and if he does then the Broncos should look for him to be the starter for next season. If he does not meet expectations then the Broncos could look to see if Drew Lock is healthy enough to play next season. Lock suffered a sprained thumb in a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers and has been on injured reserve since. If he is not healthy enough, the Broncos should trade him and look to draft a quarterback with their first round pick in the 2020 draft. In the upcoming draft there will be many good quarterbacks to choose from, including Joe Burrow from LSU, Justin Herbert from Oregon, Jake Fromm from Georgia, and Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama. Getting consistent quarterback play will help this offense get back to what it was just a few seasons ago, and help this team take a good step in the right direction.
Another big concern for this team is their offensive line. Up front the offensive linemen for Denver have been awful, with poor blocking and an insane amount of penalties. Ronald Leary was acquired by Denver in 2017 and has been a disappointment by committing too many holding penalties. Before coming to Denver, Leary was apart of one of the best Offensive lines in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. But since coming to Denver he has been a huge letdown. He will be a free agent next season, and it would be wise to let the 31 year old veteran walk in free agency. Garett Bolles, who Denver drafted in the first round of 2017 out of Utah, has been a waste of draft pick with constant penalties, poor blocking, and a bad attitude overall. Denver believed they had solved some of their struggle on the O-line last off season by trading for Ja’wuan James to help lock down the right tackle position for the foreseeable future, but James has been injured almost the whole season. the one bright spot on this Offensive line for the Broncos is Dalton Risner, who Denver drafted in the second round of last years draft out of Kansas State. he has done a good job of protecting against threats on opponents interior defensive lines at the left guard spot, but everywhere else on the O-line needs some improvement. Denver should look to draft some O-line talent in the mid to later rounds of next years draft, or perhaps try to lure some one over in free agency. A good player to try and recruit would be Trent Williams, who is currently the seven-time pro bowl left tackle for the Washington Redskins, who just recently ended his holdout with the team. Williams has openly expressed that he no longer wants to be in Washington, and ended his holdout because he wanted to play football and he wanted to be paid for this season, not because he wanted to be apart of the Redskins organization.
Another position Denver isn’t very deep at is at wide receiver, as over the past two seasons Denver has traded Demaryious Thomas to the Houston Texans and just recently Emmanuel Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers. These moves have left Denver very limited when it comes to wide receivers. Second year player Courtland Sutton has blossomed as the teams best wide receiver, but other than that the receivers for Denver aren’t very productive. The entire pass game for Denver is limited as Sutton, rookie tight end Noah Fant, and the two running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, are about the only players targeted in the pass game. Denver needs to bring in more weapons to be used in the passing game, preferably a veteran receiver who can help make this offensive more productive and to mentor the younger receivers and help them hone their craft. A good name to consider would be AJ Green, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Adding a guy like Green to this offense will help make it more productive and open the offense up more for the younger receivers to get involved. The last area that the Broncos need to address in their secondary, as many of them will be free agents after this season, including staring corner Chris Harris Jr. and starting safety Justin Simmons. Harris Jr. is unlikely to sign another contract with the Broncos and is expected to be go of before next season. Simmons has been a very productive young player for this team, and should be resigned after this season. Denver did bring over Kareem Jackson from the Texans and Bryce Callahan from the Bears this past off season, but at 31 Jackson might not have many good years of football left, and Callahan has not played in game with the Broncos yet, after a foot injury in July. Denver needs to address it’s secondary this off season through free agency or the draft, in order to help this defense become lethal the stopping the pass.
In conclusion Denver has a lot of work to do if they want to return to dominant team they were only a few seasons ago. This process can’t be expected to be completed in just one season, it could be done over the course of the next few seasons if Denver makes good decisions with it’s free agents and draft picks. Denver has some solid players on both sides of the ball, such as Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton on offense, and Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, who should resume play next season after suffering a torn ACL in week four against the Jaguars, on defense. Now they just have to fill the holes they have, and they should once again be a forced to be reckoned with in the NFL.