The 2019 season was a massive learning experience for the Denver Broncos. The season was riddled with peaks and valleys, but the Broncos ultimately fell short of expectations and finished with a losing record for the fourth consecutive season.
While the season was a disappointment overall, optimism entered towards the end of the year when Drew Lock took over as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Lock started five games for Denver, winning four of those games while ending the season on a high note with a win versus the Oakland Raiders.
As the team concluded the season, optimism radiated around the future of the club thanks to Lock and the overall maturation of the team down the stretch in 2019.
“We’re done with this losing shit,” Broncos superstar Von Miller said. “I know a couple of weeks ago, I was upset and kind of the tone from that, but I’d never lie to you guys, I’m excited about this squad, what we’ve got and what we’re going to be able to do next year.”
Miller was enthusiastic when talking about the future of the Broncos. This comes after rumors circulated that Miller was unhappy in Denver, and could even be traded. Those rumors have been downplayed, and Denver fully intends to keep Miller locked up for the long haul.
Miller was dejected and clearly frustrated with yet another losing season. The star played fine in 2019, logging 46 tackles and eight sacks, although he was far from his top form.
That said, when Lock took over as the starter, his presence and energy provided the team with a spark, which was very encouraging considering some of the low points the Broncos endured in 2019.
As the Broncos prepare to start a new decade, the relationship between Miller and Lock will be pivotal to the immediate success of the franchise.
Upon reflecting on this season, it was clear there was a major disconnect within the Broncos’ locker room, especially for the veteran players that brought home a Super Bowl in 2015.
Things are not like the used to be in Denver, and some veterans were clearly fed up with the consistent losing after winning nearly every game from 2012-2015.
There has been a toxic energy surrounding the Broncos at times as the team has regressed; however, the veterans appeared to be the ones making the most noise, whereas the young guns were grinding through the tough times in hopes of better days.
As the Broncos prepare for the 2020 season, the team will shed their old identity for a new one led by Miller and Lock. Many of the players that were a part of the Broncos Super Bowl 50 team are no longer in Denver, and come next season, Miller might be the lone cog remaining.
Things are not like they used to be in Denver, and it’s time for Miller to help steer the team in the right direction while Lock helps take them over the top.
Think back to the start of the previous decade. After a dismal 2010 season, Denver selected Miller with the 2nd overall pick in 2011 and paired him with Peyton Manning a year later.
Manning was on the back end of his career at the time, but still had plenty of gas left in the tank, which ultimately led Denver to a Super Bowl championship. Manning paved the way for the Broncos, but Miller sealed the deal with his stellar performance in the big dance.
Years have come and gone since Miller was named Super Bowl MVP, but it seems like the tables have now turned.
Miller, 30, is entering the second half of his career, and Lock just finished up his rookie season. Together, the tandem can develop a new era of Broncos football, one that features success and is the opposite of what Denver has endured the last few years.
Miller is no longer a young, undefendable pass rusher. But, he’s still an elite defensive talent, and while his best days could be behind him, he can still make a significant impact moving forward.
Lock is young, hungry and dangerous, kind of like how Miller was when he first entered the league. He plays with passion and is not afraid to take risks for his team.
Miller needs to take up the role that Manning did when he came to town: A veteran that wants to win at all costs, and works with the tools around him. Lock will need to continue to develop as a quarterback, but he provides the team with extra swagger and camaraderie that will be needed if the Broncos want to return to championship form.
The times are a-changin’ in Broncos Country, but the Miller-Lock duo should have fans fired up for next season and beyond.