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Despite struggles, Broncos have a solid foundation for the future

The Denver Broncos have struggled mightily this season on offense, but the team has a lot of building blocks and potential that might help turn things around next year.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country.

It’s been a tough year for the Denver Broncos. After falling one game short of the playoffs last season, the franchise had high hopes for a rebound year after adding some key players in free agency and addressing several needs in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Unfortunately, those moves haven’t paid off quite the way they had hoped. The team is sitting at 3-7 and facing a near impossible task of running the table to somehow make the playoffs. Could it happen? Sure — anything can happen, but I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollar on a miracle surfacing. While many across Broncos Country have waived the white flag on the season, there is a reason for optimism for next season and beyond.

What is that reason? A solid foundation of youth on both sides of the ball. Let me explain.

Though the defense has struggled as of late, the progression of second-year players Justin Simmons and Adam Gotsis have been bright spots on the defense and look as if they will be key contributors for the team the rest of the season and beyond. Shaq Barrett has looked good in his role on defense and could be on his way to earning a lucrative contract after being passed up by every team in the draft several years ago. The team also boasts a lot of depth in the defensive backfield with Bradley Roby, Will Parks and friends — who may not be top-tier at their positions, but youthful players who have made some quality plays for the team since their acquisitions. Last but not least, former ACC sack leader and second-round pick DeMarcus Walker will be converting back to the defensive line and should provide a boost to the team’s interior pass rush that has been lacking this year.

On offense, Garett Bolles has played admirably as a rookie left tackle and has the tools, grit, heart and determination to cement himself as one of the better blindside protectors in the league. Matt Paradis has also had a solid season and his play the past two years will merit a contract extension in the near future. We also can’t forget Ronald Leary, who has shined at right guard for the Broncos and is having a Pro-Bowl caliber season on the interior. The play at left guard and right tackle has been ho-hum, but I am confident John Elway and his staff can find significant upgrades at those two spots — even if their past history in free agency or the draft suggest otherwise. Failure again, in respect to those two spots, isn’t an option.

Though they haven’t seen any action at all this year due to injury, we can’t forget fellow rookies Carlos Henderson and Jake Butt, who should provide a much needed boost at wide receiver and tight end next season and help ignite an aerial assault that has failed to launch in 2017. The team also has second-year Devontae Booker at running back, who has flashed as a runner and receiver after recovering from an injury that caused him to miss most of the season. He might not be an every down back in the league, but he certainly can make an impact with the opportunities he is given each Sunday.

I’m sure there are some names I’ve forgotten, but the point is — the Broncos aren’t absent of youth and talent on the roster. They have one of the youngest teams in the league and it will just take a bit of time and yes, better coaching to help foster their development to aid in them making an impact down the road. Not only that, but if they play their cards right, the team is in a great position to land some top-flight talent in the 2018 NFL Draft with a bounty of high selections.

So even though this season has been a dud, don’t forget that the team has a solid group of young players who should continue to grow as they gain more experience. Keep the hope alive and look toward the future, Broncos Country — it gets better.

As always, thank you for reading. May you and yours have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday alongside family and friends. Without further adieu, here is today’s offering of Horse Tracks.

Horse Tracks

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