- Nicholas Garcia-Paige
In Enemy Territory- Expectations for the 2018-2019 Denver Broncos: Can they get it right?
Can the Denver Broncos get their quarterback situation right this season? That is the question every Denver Broncos’ fan wants to know. The last time the Broncos had a decent quarterback was in 2015, when they had a future hall of famer in Peyton Manning. In the 2016 NFL Draft, the Broncos traded with the Seattle Seahawks for the 26th pick to grab Paxton Lynch, who was projected to become the franchise quarterback after Brock Osweiler left and signed with the Houston Texans for big money. However, during the 2016 OTAs and training camp, the seventh round quarterback drafted by the Broncos in 2015, Trevor Siemian, beat Lynch to become the Broncos starter for the 2016-2017 season. The dilemma for the Denver Broncos continued. As 2017 came around, the Broncos, headed by Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway began “cleaning house” by getting a new head coach in Vance Joseph and a new defensive coordinator in Joe Woods. Gary Kubiak stepped down as head coach because of health concerns and Wade Philips left the Broncos to be the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. Outside linebacker Demarcus Ware retired, Safety TJ Ward was released to save money, and Russell Okung left to sign with the Los Angeles Chargers. The Broncos did lose some key players and this showed on the field heavily in the 2017-2018 season with Trevor Siemian as the starting quarterback. The Broncos finished with a whopping 5-11 record and ranked last in the AFC West. Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and everybody on that offense didn’t show up except the two veterans, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. The defense played great staying top 10 since 2015, but the offense just couldn’t click. The Broncos were ranked in the bottom 25 in scoring and total offense, which is why they only won five games. The quarterback is their weak spot. Siemian proved to not be the future, and Paxton Lynch just isn’t producing as analysts said he would and he was battling injuries. It was also recently reported that at one time, Elway even offered Collin Kaepernick a chance to compete. That brings us to modern day...can the Broncos get it right in the 2018-2019 season? I think the Denver Broncos are on their way back on track this upcoming season. Here’s why: 1. Denver finally signed a quarterback. Their favorite choice was Kirk Cousins from the Redskins, but instead they signed Case Keenum from the Minnesota Vikings. Case Keenum took the Vikings to a 13-3 record and a NFC Championship birth before falling short to the dominating Philadelphia Eagles. During the 2017 season, Case Keenum threw for 22 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. Denver might actually get it right this season. Chad Kelly, who is having a great preseason, will most likely be the back up along with Paxton Lynch, who got demoted to 3rd string because of his poor play in the preseason. 2. The Broncos had a really good draft. They drafted Bradley Chubb with the 5th pick out of North Carolina State University, who was projected to be the best defensive player in the draft. With Demarcus Ware retiring leaving the outside linebacker position empty, Bradley Chubb will be plugged in, lining up on the opposite side of Von Miller. In the 2nd round they drafted Courtland Sutton out of SMU. In today’s NFL you need at least three quality pass catchers. In 2017, Denver had no other options outside of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The Broncos picked up a big receiver who is able to make difficult catches. Safety Will Parks of the Denver Broncos stated that Sutton is “LeBron James on the field.” Lets not get too carried away but that shows how good Courtland Sutton has been in practice, and he showed it against the Chicago Bears in the 2nd preseason game of the season catching a touchdown pass. With the loss of running backs CJ Anderson and Jamaal Charles, the Broncos drafted running back Royce Freeman in the 3rd round for running back depth. The Broncos have Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson on the depth chart as well. Royce Freeman is having great preseason success scoring a couple touchdowns in the first two games. I expect Booker and Freeman to share carries as the season goes on. With the loss of Aqib Talib, Denver drafted cornerback Isaac Yiadom out of Boston College in the 4th round. Yes, losing Talib is big, but Denver has to get rid of the big contracts and rebuild. Their cornerback depth is still strong with their two stars that are still there in Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby. The core of that defense is still there to still be top 10 for the 4th straight year. 3. The schedule went from being the hardest schedule in 2016 and 2017, to the easiest schedule in 2018. The Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders are also going through some struggles as they enter the 2018 season. • The Chiefs lost Alex Smith and a number of defensive players during free agency. • The Chargers have over 10 players injured this training camp including pro bowl corner Jason Verrett. • The Raiders have had a bottom 20 defense two out of the last three years and there is a possibility that their star outside linebacker Khalil Mack will be traded. I simply just don’t believe in the Raiders because of their defense. The Broncos play their division twice, the NFC West, AFC North, the Texans and the Jets. I truly believe they can win at least 9 or 10 games. If the Broncos can stay in the middle of the pack in offense and top 10 in defense as usual, they have a chance to win their division and make playoffs with a 10-6 record.
Giving Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders a decent quarterback can put Denver in a great position to make the playoffs because the defense will play like they always have. I’m not talking Super Bowl, but I think Keenum can repeat the same season he had with the Minnesota Vikings. I think the Broncos finally got it right.