The past few months have been less than memorable, but it won’t distract what’s expected to be an unforgettable season.
Matt Russell and Tom Heckert’s arrests for driving under the influence, and their subsequent suspensions, coupled with Von Miller’s possible four-game suspension won’t derail a possible trip to New York in February. Not consulting with nearly every real estate agent in the country who electronically signs all contracts could hurt with the loss of Elvis Dumervil, but this franchise has a strong enough roster and locker room to overcome.
As the Broncos embark on another training camp, go back one year to reflect on the conversation at the annual media barbeque; it featured a line of questioning about Elvis and guns. The team got through that, even though the charges were dropped. And it won’t be a problem again.
Russell and Heckert’s actions and consequences are far more serious, while Miller could miss a quarter of the season. But Miller’s mistakes will affect him a lot more than the team.
If Miller gets the full four games, most would realistically expect this team to win half its games with three of them at home. And for a team that finished with a 13-3 record, does anyone believe, barring injury, they’ll do any worse than 8-4 once Miller comes back?
That worse-case 10-6 record would be more than good enough to make the playoffs. And let’s call it like it is, the regular season is nothing more than an appetizer to the main course – the playoffs. Making the postseason is almost a foregone conclusion and that’s when the Broncos will have Miller with only 12 games under his belt instead of the wear and tear of 16.
Some would argue that it’ll make it more difficult to get AFC’s top seed without a full season with Miller, but does it really matter? It didn’t matter last season.
The Broncos will be fine, but if you look beyond the horizon line, this situation could have a huge effect on Miller’s next contract in a few years, whether with the Broncos or another team.
His reported failed drug test in 2011, to go along with a possible suspension, would almost certainly affect his leverage moving forward. Oh, he’ll get a hefty pay raise and a generous signing bonus, but you better believe there’ll be a clause spelling out what another suspension would do to his pocketbook. The next step, if suspended, is a possible one-year ban by the league.
Miller is the guy with a bunch of speeding tickets that if he even rolls a stop sign could lose his license for a year. And his recent brazen behavior could cost him a big chunk of his signing bonus. This will affect THAT team years from now, not this one.
The Broncos offense could be one of the most potent in franchise history. Defensively, they might not be great, but they’ll be good enough.
The road to the Super Bowl is wide open with the champion Ravens offseason defections and New England’s off-the-field issues, as they may have lost one tight end to prison while the other one is recovering from back surgery. The Broncos chances are as good as any despite the possible loss of Miller to start the season.
Heckert will be back in a month, so that’s a moot point. Russell, if out a while, could affect next year’s draft, but not this year’s team.
Many Broncos fans are standing on the ledge, but there’s no reason to jump. Take a step back and relax. Everything is going to be fine.
Eric Goodman hosts Afternoon Drive with Mac and Goodman 3p-6p Monday through Friday on Mile High Sports Radio (AM1510 | FM 93.7). You can also follow Eric Goodman on Twitter @ericgoodman
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