While the achievements of Peyton Manning ans the boys cannot be understated last year it has lead me to dream up an answer to the below question....
Can they be even better this season?
My initial reaction to that is...how? But when you look at the broad spectrum of the offense I think the answer is a resounding yes...and here is why!
Their personnel losses were minor:
When you look at the players which walked away from the offense you can easily add up a lot of statistical value between Moreno and Decker. Both were key members of the offense and have the numbers to prove their importance, but the argument can just as easily be made that both players were products of the system AKA products of Manning's greatness. Moreno was a headily criticized member of the team for years before he walked away and signed for pennies in Miami. I was a fan of Moreno but just simply based on his contractual value to Miami you can see that he is not regarded as a star (and think that Miami was probably the best deal he was offered anywhere.)
As for Decker, he was undoubtedly productive and added a great outside weapon to the force. Decker was big, tall, strong, and smart. But would anyone take a bet that says he has a better season the rest of his career? A season better than 87-1288-11 (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/D/DeckEr00.htm). Short answer is no. Once again the Manning argument applies, and although Decker turned his Manning years into higher numbers and a bigger deal than Moreno he can still be replaced. Bottom line, Manning cannot be replaced but these guys can be, or even upgraded.
Their personnel replacements are upgrades:
Now selling someone that Monte Ball and Ronnie Hillman as upgrades to Moreno is challenging and perhaps impossible (unless you were part of the anti-Moreno group), but I think it is possible these two young backs can add more. I don't truly know about their impact on the passing game where Moreno was particularly strong but I believe on the group they can be better. They combined last year for near 800 yards while Moreno clocked in at 1,038 with 66 more touches. If you combine their averages and give them 66 more touches the duo finishes with 1,064 yards. It's all relative based on a variety of factors but you cannot deny the point that Ball and Hillman together should out perform Moreno on the ground
As for Decker, well this is what I wanted to write about since I started this post. Saying excited is a strong understatement for how I feel about Emmanuel Sanders in this offense. I think Sanders is an upgrade from Decker for the following reason, his speed. Sanders brings speed to the table that Denver has not had since Manning arrived. Gadget players who are simply fast come and go, but a starter who has tons of speed as well as talent is something Manning has maybe never played with? In Indy he was surrounded with possession receivers like Wanye, Harrison, Clark, etc. In Denver he had big ole Decker, Thomas, and Thomas. The one thing that the passing game COULD afford to lose was size and the missing piece was speed, that swap is the exact result of a Decker for Sanders move (not too mention the money saved from letting Decker walk to New York.)
**This a paragraph place holder for Cody Latimer who I still don't know much about. What we do know is the organization held him in high standards, he is playing with Peyton Manning, and he can do stuff like this....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZXQcakwFAc
Now that I've covered the new guys I can briefly psyche us all up for the returning crew!
Peyton Manning - I don't need to say anything. Best quarterback of all time
Demaryius Thomas - Had a truly remarkable season, now think what he will do in a contract year (unless he get's this over with early - http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24589213/report-broncos-offer-demaryius-thomas-five-year-contract). If Thomas walks he sure won't have the same type of numbers in the future #ManningEffect should be trending worldwide on twitter.
Julius Thomas - From the depths to the podium, who thinks he can't improve with another off-season working with Manning and with the departure of Decker. Again his size becomes MORE valuable without Decker and with Sanders blazing down the sidelines. Safety's be warned.
Wes Welker - The consummate pro had the worst year of his career since 2006 thanks to injuries. Sure his targets were down by 64 despite only missing 3 games but a healthy Welker for 16 games is trouble for anyone especially with the surrounding talent.
My giddy conclusion is this....CAN'T WAIT for this season. Right now I am biding my time for fanduel fantasy football to start and get my hands on every Bronco possible, receptions, yards, and scores shouldn't be in short supply. The real work for this team to capture the next Super Bowl is on the defensive side of the ball...but before I write about that I think I'll take a little more time to enjoy this "all-time" type offense that has been assembled for us to root for!