Good morning, Broncos Country.
It's Election Day, so I thought it would be fun to use Horse Tracks to begin a discussion on how the Denver Broncos can become great again.
After their 30-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday Night Football, the Broncos have fallen to third place in the AFC West and are on the outside looking in regarding not only the ability to win the division, but to make the playoffs as well. Week after week, the same issues seem to keep rearing their ugly heads. The State of the Broncos, which was once strong, seems to be crumbling before our very eyes.
It's unlikely that everything that needs to be fixed will be done this season. There are deficiences all over the roster, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. It's too late to make a big move to acquire any key players since the trade deadline has passed, but the Broncos boast nearly $40 million dollars in cap space and ten draft selections in 2017 that should be used well in order to keep our beloved franchise competitive in the future.
Listed below is my platform on how the Broncos can become the great team they were in 2015 and boost their chances at becoming a Super Bowl contender once more.
- It's up in the air if the Broncos will exercise their option that would keep left tackle Russell Okung in Denver for the 2017 and beyond. This years' NFL Draft class is weak at the position and the price range for some of the top free agents at the left tackle position (Terron Armstead and Cordy Glenn) could become too pricey for the Broncos. That being said, there are two lineman scheduled to hit free agency at guard and right tackle that I think the Broncos should make a move for.
Atlanta's Ryan Schraeder has been one of the league's best right tackle's this year and would be a significant upgrade over Donald Stephenson, who has been disappointing after signing a contract with the Broncos this off-season. He's a quality scheme fit and would bolster the teams' pass protection and run blocking ability for the 2017 season and beyond.
Kevin Zeitler would be huge acquisition if the Broncos could lure him to the Mile High City. He may command some big bucks, but if the Broncos want to improve their offensive line, they can't expect a rookie to come in and play at a high level. However, the signing of Zeitler would be significant upgrade at the guard position and give the Broncos a true blue-chip player in their offensive trenches.
That being said, the Broncos' should pick up Okung's option, whose salary is already figured in to the $40 million dollars the franchise is expected to have this coming off-season. If he doesn't pan out in 2017, the team can cut him and incur little dead money in the process. It's my firm belief that a Broncos line that sees the addition of at least one of the aforementioned players would be much better this year, and bode extremely well for the development of Paxton Lynch (the future in Denver), as well as helping out our running game.
Folks, we must secure our offensive line! We can't allow defensive players to run through our trenches untouched. It's a complete disaster up front, believe me, but we are going to do what it takes to make it great again.
- Lets face it — our situation at the tight end position is an unmitigated disaster. Nobody at the position is playing at a high level and it's absolutely killing our ability to move the ball down the field with any sort of efficiency. If I were John Elway, I'd highly consider going after Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed in free agency, who would give the Broncos a true receiving threat they desperately need at the position.
If that fails, there is no doubt the team will have to use a high selection on a tight end in the draft. Fortunately for Denver, this years' crop of talent is immense at tight end. O.J. Howard, Bucky Hodges, Jake Butt, Evan Engram or Jordan Leggett would be tremendous picks for the Broncos in the early rounds of the draft that could give them a true difference maker at the position. Trust me, those guys are going to be great.
- It's time to get rid of some of the "good ol' boy" mentality that is in the Broncos' ranks. I've been less than impressed with Rick Dennison's early game plans that have put the Broncos in tremendous disadvantages to start off games. Too many of our drives are resulting in three and outs, which gives opponents great field position and is hurting our defense.
On top of that, Kubiak's play-calling after Dennison's early scripted plays leaves a lot to be desired as well. I'd make a big change here and find a capable coach who has a game plan and offensive philosophy that actually works in today's NFL. I think it's quite evident from the past season and a half that what we are doing on offense now simply isn't working. That has to change if we want to be contenders down the road.
- The issues aren't just on the offensive line, they extend to the defensive line as well. We need reinforcements there badly. Calais Campbell might not be the player he once was, but it's hard to believe that he wouldn't be an improvement over Jared Crick at defensive end. Campbell is from Denver, so there might be some appeal for him to come out and finish his career in the Mile High City.
The team will also need a replacement for Sylvester Williams, who is scheduled to hit free agency at the end of the season. Dontari Poe or Johnathan Hankins could be options here in free agency, but I'd like to see the Broncos draft a nose tackle, as well as a defensive end, with some of their early picks in the draft. In the meantime, how about giving Darius Kilgo more snaps over Williams? After Williams' disaster of an effort in the Black Hole, there is certainly no reason not to.
- If the Broncos lose to the Saints next weekend, it may be time to bring in Paxton Lynch and see what he can do. Obviously the team needs a spark at the position and Trevor Siemian's play has declined each week after his best season performance against the Cincinnati Bengals. I don't see any reason not to bring in the rookie if the team is 6-4 entering their bye week. Those are just some miscellaneous thoughts about how we can make the Broncos great again. Feel free to give your thoughts on how the team can improve this year and beyond in the comments section. As always, thank you for reading and here is today's offering of Horse Tracks.
IN THEIR WORDS: The run game is holding Denver back on both sides of the ball
The run game has officially evolved from minor concern to legitimate problem.
Broncos Injury Report: 'Encouraging' news on Derek Wolfe
The Broncos do not believe Wolfe's injury is like those that Ty Sambrailo and Bennie Fowler endured earlier this season.
Broncos' midseason grade: Von Miller powers defense with Super Bowl plans
The Broncos have set the bar high for themselves, and their midseason marks are mostly good thanks to a strong defense led by Von Miller.
Gary Kubiak: Siemian 'making a lot of plays' so no change at quarterback
Broncos coach Gary Kubiak says the team's offense needs to improve but the fault does not completely rest on quarterback Trevor Siemian.
Dean Blandino: Refs made mistakes in Seahawks' win
The Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks played one of the best halves of prime-time football we've seen all season on Monday night for 29 minutes and 57 seconds. Then things got confusing.
Goff unlikely to play until Rams fall from contention
Will Los Angeles fans get their wish for Jared Goff under center? NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport says the Rams are unlikely to bench Case Keenum until they fall out of playoff contention.
Jets benched Wilkerson, Richardson for being late
The Jets benched defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson for the first quarter of Sunday's loss to the Dolphins after the pair was late to several team meetings.
Injuries: Chiefs expect Alex Smith (head, ear) to return
Less than 24 hours after eking out a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Kansas City Chiefs have even more reason for encouragement. Alex Smith will likely return to play in Week 10.
Raiders in control after resounding victory over Broncos
In a highly anticipated showdown for AFC West supremacy, Latavius Murray and the Raiders stuck it to the vaunted Broncos defense. Michael Silver looks at how Oakland pulled it off.