The Denver Broncos’ 30-6 throttling at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs put everything into perspective.
The Broncos are just not ready to compete with the big dogs of the league — or even the AFC West — and this year is a season for growth and development. That being said, the season is not over yet. The rest of this season must be devoted to three key questions that will determine the future for the Broncos.
First: What veterans should the team swap for draft assets to aid in their rebuilding efforts?
From the outside looking in, Emmanuel Sanders is as good as gone. He doesn’t want to be in Denver, the Broncos want to develop the young receiving talent under him and there are several Super Bowl competitors that would love to add him to their roster.
Second: Is Drew Lock the quarterback of the future?
Since Peyton Manning‘s retirement, the Broncos have been searching for a quarterback to take the reins, but to no avail. With Joe Flacco the most recent player to be cast aside to John Elway’s pile of quarterback misses, Lock is the next man up.
The Broncos must play him a significant amount of time this season to determine whether or not he is the guy. Unless Lock hits right off the bat and makes it clear that Denver need not waste their time scouting other quarterback prospects in this year’s draft, the Broncos will have to give the 2020 field generals a long, hard look.
Third: Are Vic Fangio and the rest of his coaching staff the right staff to turn things around in Denver, or is it time to start from scratch?
Fangio’s staff is a talented group. Rich Scangarello is a promising, young offensive mind that has shown a lot of promise but has also had plenty of hiccups in his first NFL season calling plays. Ed Donatell is a well-respected defensive mind, and Fangio’s right-hand man. Mike Munchak is viewed as the league’s very best offensive line coach, which makes him the perfect pair for Fangio, the league’s lead defensive maestro.
However, the staff has made several questionable moves this season and the results have been incredibly disappointing. If the Broncos have doubts about both the coaching staff and Lock’s potential as the franchise’s future at quarterback, it’s time to burn it to the ground and rebuild.
Then, this offseason, the Broncos must commit to fixing the offensive line, secondary, potentially quarterback; and to add more weapons in the passing game.
If Harris and Sanders aren’t on the team in 2020, after departing via trade or free agency, the Broncos will be incredibly shallow on the perimeter.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos would have Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, Tim Patrick and Juwann Winfree at wide receiver if Sanders leaves. Unless the Broncos add some talent or Hamilton, Patrick or Winfree take a huge leap forward in the second half of this season, the position group will find itself in dire straights next year.
Both positions would be great targets for the Broncos in the upcoming draft, which is home to an excellent crop of cornerbacks and one of, if not the best group of receivers a draft has seen.
The offensive line and quarterback classes in the 2020 NFL Draft are also strong, but adding more youth there is a risky proposition.
As practice times have decreased throughout college and pro football, the odds of hitting on and developing young offensive linemen through the draft have gotten a lot longer. That means Denver may be better served to bolster the trenches through free agency.
Also, unless Lock completely flames out, to the point the Broncos decide to cut him, would it really be wise to draft another quarterback in this year’s class?
Everyone knew he would need time to develop, and adding another young gunslinger would force Denver into a logjam at quarterback. They would either be without a quarterback or backup that has played in the league, have to carry three quarterbacks on the active roster or give up on a promising quarterback prospect that is fewer than 15 months into their professional career.
If the Broncos can answer those three questions by the end of the season and they’re able to fortify those four key position groups, things may turn out all right after all.