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A few years removed from their victory in Super Bowl 50, the Denver Broncos are playing at a level that is a far cry from the success to which they have become accustomed. Now with one complete season under his belt, Vance Joseph is looking forward to his second year on the sidelines for the Broncos to clean up several aspects of the game for his team. Chief among their issues is their play at quarterback.
While Peyton Manning was at the helm for the last Super Bowl win, the Broncos have moved on since his retirement. However, they have lacked consistency at the QB position. Manning’s heir apparent, Brock Osweiler, was shipped out as the Broncos chose to go with rookie Trevor Siemian under center. After struggling through this season, he was replaced by another high draft pick in Paxton Lynch. Lynch started one game for Denver before an injury forced Siemian back onto the field. Osweiler, meanwhile, pinballed around the league only to end up back in Denver as the third string quarterback. When Lynch and Siemian were both out with injuries, Osweiler started for the Broncos. Needless to say, the QB position was a total mess in 2017 and the end result was a miserable 5-11 finish to the year.
Fans expected for General Manager John Elway to set this aspect of the depth chart as a high priority in the offseason. Most were somewhat disappointed when the season opened up with Case Keenum as the starter. While he shined on occasion in other cities, Keenum is a journeyman quarterback that has never been looked at as having the potential to be a superstar. The general feeling is that the Broncos may have yet another player under center next season.
While the starting QB spot may not be fully cemented at the moment, there is no question that the Broncos made moves to solidify the offensive line in free agency. However, that plan did not exactly work out as both Center Matt Paradis and Left Guard Ronald Leary (who came over from the Cowboys) both ended up on the IR. Drafting OT Garrett Bolles in the first round out of Utah last season turned out to be a great move, as he became a starter for this team. The Broncos receiving corps is also depleted with Emmanuel Sanders on IR and Demaryius Thomas traded away to Houston for 4th and 7th round picks in the 2019 draft.
The defensive side of the ball has also experienced some regression following the Super Bowl win as they lost several key starters in free agency. The Broncos defensive leader, linebacker and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller dedicated himself to the idea of keeping the defense playing as dominantly as they have in the past few seasons. The result was a resurgence that saw the Broncos climb the defensive ranks to give up the third fewest yards in the league. Field position, however, was a problem for this team as they were 22nd in the points allowed. Aqib Talib, the force to be reckoned with in the Denver secondary, was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. Undoubtedly a major loss, the Broncos have tried to regroup. They have given up more yards, but less points this season. The organization decided to address the defensive struggles via the draft by selecting Bradley Chubb out of North Carolina State. A powerful defensive end that can get to the quarterback in a hurry, Chubb lines up opposite Von Miller to give the opposition more than they can handle at the line.
John Elway wears a suit and sits in the luxury suites these days for Broncos games, but for 16 years he was the leader of this team on the field, taking snaps under center in his retired number 7. Leading the team to back to back Super Bowl victories following the 1997 and 1998 seasons, Elway is a legend not only in the Denver area, but in football history as he is enshrined in Canton as a Hall of Famer.
Other notable players to have worn the Broncos orange include shutdown cornerback Champ Bailey, explosive wide receiver Rod Smith, prolific tight end Shannon Sharpe, and elite running back Terrell Davis. For more information about the Denver Broncos click here.