Heading into the 2015 season the Denver Broncos had zero concerns about leadership. Peyton Manning was the guy, not just for the offense, but for the whole team. Of course, as the season moved forward, the leadership shifted. The defense took over, and guys like DeMarcus Ware, Derek Wolfe, and Von Miller became the clear leaders of the team. Now, with the defense staunchly in charge of this Broncos team, who will be the leader on offense?
Even in days of Brock Osweiler as the starting quarterback, the leadership came from Manning and the coaching staff. With the start of OTAs the question has come up, who is the leader of the offense in Denver? Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison was asked about that on Wednesday.
"It's a little early to tell that, too, because it's two days into it. Leaders will come up. They'll rise. They'll rise for it. I think our guys are good. They work hard together. They work hard for this team. We'll find somebody to follow. We'll be in good shape."
One thing is certain, the Broncos have guys who can step up and be the leaders of the offense. Veterans like Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas have been around long enough, and have the respect of other players. Thomas has had his struggles, but he still demands respect from the other players on the team. Even guys like Russell Okung, incoming veterans, could step up and take on that leadership role. Does it have to be Mark Sanchez or Paxton Lynch? Dennison does not think so.
"No. It hasn't [always] been in the past. There have been a couple of years where maybe not that guy. But generally speaking, the quarterback has to direct the show, so it's more likely."
That definitely takes some pressure off the new quarterbacks. What they need is time to learn the offense, adjust to playing in Denver, and, in the case of Lynch, learn what it is to be a NFL quarterback. However, it is hard to win in the NFL if the quarterback is secondary. Look at the history of the league, and teams that win usually have a quarterback leading them in one way or another.
Go back as far as last year. Manning wasn't even on the field, but he was clearly the leader of the team. The quarterback is not always the best player, but the offense runs through them. Teams that can't rally behind their quarterback can't win in this league. Denver may have the best defense in the NFL, but it better figure out who will lead it on offense.