This Denver Broncos team George Paton has constructed is ready to contend. For real.
He kept the best pieces of the puzzle — Von Miller, Kareem Jackson, Justin Simmons, Shelby Harris — and added to it with a phenomenal free agents Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby.
Defensively, this is one of the most talented teams in the entire NFL. In fact, they’re so talent-packed, the defense is even helping to buoy the offense a bit. That’s not to slight the offensive group of playmakers, either, though.
Courtland Sutton returns as a legitimate No. 1 receiver to lead a great group of young pass catchers like Noah Fant, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. The offensive line is likely the best in the AFC West while running backs Melvin Gordon and rookie Javonte Williams are nothing to scoff at, either.
In fact, the Broncos roster is so talented, the people at Pro Football Focus graded Denver as the 10th most talented roster in the league.
From the piece: “Denver might just have the best secondary in the NFL. Last year, third-round rookie Michael Ojemudia, an injured A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan — who typically plays in the slot — were the team’s top three outside cornerbacks. Denver now has the luxury of deciding which of Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby or top-10 pick Pat Surtain II will start the season on the bench due to Callahan likely moving back inside.”
But, what’s the glaring weakness for the Broncos in this upcoming season?
Quarterback, of course.
For as much talk as there has been about bolstering the quarterback position this offseason, Denver didn’t improve in any meaningful way. Sure, Teddy Bridgewater is a slight upgrade over the 2020 version of Drew Lock. He brings a little less volatility…This is a roster talented enough to contend in the AFC from top to bottom. It’s just hard to see that happening with Lock or Bridgewater at QB.”
Interestingly, PFF makes a solid, objective case here saying the Broncos are in trouble no matter who the quarterback is. Meanwhile, Broncos Country is busy debating the merits of each quarterback and why they should start this year.
That’s not to say the Broncos won’t compete. They still likely will.
But the simplest explanation is usually the correct one and the truth is: Until Denver finds a star quarterback, they’ll be held back.
Considering that is the case, expect another up-and-down, roller coaster affair this year. The Broncos should certainly improve from where they’ve been as of late — under .500 the last four straight years — but unless either Lock or Bridgewater turns it on to play as a Top-10 QB, Denver will likely finish right around .500 yet again.
If Lock beats out Bridgewater and if he turns the corner in a meaningful way and if he’s able to ride some momentum, the team could end up going 10-7 or maybe even 11-6. The same could be said for Bridgewater as both he and Lock must do better in terms of protecting the football this year, no matter who wins the job.
If they can’t, it could end up costing Vic Fangio his head coaching job.