Good morning, Broncos Country.
When fans of the Denver Broncos look back in the history books, they will undoubtedly want to rip out the pages concerning their teams' efforts in 2016.
Few bright moments exist from the 2016 season, one marred by underachievement and a severe lack of efficacy on the offensive side of the ball. For the most part, the teams' defense did its part throughout the course of the season. Entering the final week of the year, the Broncos' D ranks sixth in the league in regard to yards and points allowed. The No Fly Zone has been terrific, but the play from their defensive front seven, especially in regard to the run game has been a major obstacle they failed to overcome all season long.
It shouldn't be hard for the Broncos' brass to upgrade a few missing pieces on defense, in particular at nose tackle, defensive end and linebacker where they could use an infusion of talent for the future. However, fixing and upgrading one of the most atrocious offenses in team history might prove to be much more difficult.
Most of the narratives on upgrading the offense have focused on switch at quarterback for the 2017 season. Many fans have thrown in the towel in regard to second-year signal caller Trevor Siemian, who has failed to impress on the field in the final stretch of the year.
Many are now calling for Paxton Lynch, Denver's prized first-round selection to take lead of the offense next season in hopes for better results. It's an understandable sentiment, but for me, it doesn't matter who the Broncos' quarterback is. If the Broncos aren't able to upgrade their talent in the trenches, as well as at several skill positions on the offensive side of the ball, both young quarterbacks will continue to struggle next year.
It's quite obvious that the main issue on the Broncos is their offensive line. The only player worthy of praise on that unit has been center Matthew Paradis, who is expected to have hip surgery in the offseason. Nobody else played with consistency throughout the duration of the regular season, and by all means, those inadequate performers could all be replaced with upgrades in free agency or the NFL Draft.
Yet lost in the shuffle of the Broncos' offensive calamity is perspective on poor performance at other positions. For example, the Broncos tight end unit. They have accounted for only 63 receptions, a tick over 500 yards receiving and just one touchdown by John Phillips, a player who isn't even on the team anymore.
In addition to lack of production at the tight end position, the Broncos haven't gotten much from their receivers outside Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The next leading receiver for the team at wide out is Jordan Norwood, who has reeled in 21 catches for 232 yards and one touchdown. Neither him, Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor or former second-round selection and certifiable bust Cody Latimer have made a difference for the squad. Chalk up receiver, in particular a weapon in the slot who can also provide a spark in the return game as another need for the Broncos.
The teams' talent at running back is also suspect. C.J. Anderson has missed half the season due to a knee injury that included cartilage issues. Whether or not he will be able to revert back to his former self after sustaining such an injury is still up in the air. Their fourth-round selection Devontae Booker, looked much better as the second fiddle in the Broncos' offense, and struggled mightily when asked to shoulder a bigger load.
Justin Forsett and Kapri Bibbs shouldn't be counted on to make a difference in the long-term for the Broncos' rushing attack, and it would be best for Denver to take advantage of this years' epic draft class at running back to find another young prospect to add to a stable that is in desperate need of an upgrade.
It's quite simple, Broncos Country — the biggest issue for the Broncos isn't who their starting quarterback will be in 2017. It is the lack of talent around them. If the front office fails to upgrade the positions around Siemian or Lynch, neither of them will likely endure success next year.
Thankfully, the Broncos have 10 draft selections and could have well over $40 million dollars in cap space (including cuts and rolling over unused 2016 funds) to improve their deficiencies on that side of the ball. Here is to hoping that John Elway and his staff can work some magic and make one of the most comprehensive overhauls in offensive talent in team history this offseason. It's an absolute must if they want to become contenders in 2017.
As always, thank you for reading and here is today's offering of Horse Tracks.
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