clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Are the Denver Broncos headed for trouble this year?

Michael Lombardi of The Ringer talks about the Denver Broncos rise and possible fall under John Elway.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Lombardi from The Ringer wrote quite an in depth summary on the Denver Broncos under the reign of John Elway and his assessment is that this franchise lucked into Peyton Manning and that luck has run out.

The story wasn’t as hyperbolic as I just made it out to be, but he summed things up in a way that is kind of spot on and he could actually be right in his assessment. I see the current issues facing this team as one of two things that Lombardi covered rather succinctly in his larger post.

The first is the lack of a middle class on the roster.

Currently, Denver has 10 starting players on its roster with a $5 million per year or more cap charge, and 28 players above $1 million. The Broncos have only four backups making more than a million ...

..Naturally, the Patriots do the opposite. They’re one of the few teams with midlevel depth. New England has seven players on its roster with a cap charge over $5 million this season and 36 players with charge of a million or more. Bill Belichick wants a full team, not a few high-priced veterans and then all draft picks. He understands that most draft picks never affect the team in their first season, however.

The Broncos are able to get away with the lopsided pay scale due to the overwhelming greatness of the talent at the top. If Elway were overpaying for mediocre talent, the Broncos would be a very bad football team. However, they are paying supremely talented players what they are worth and are getting the production out of those dollars.

So far so good, but this isn’t a strategy that will work long-term. Usually...

The second item is the quarterback situation. Lombardi hit the nail on the head as far as I am concerned regarding both of the Broncos quarterback options heading into the 2017 regular season.

First, Trevor Siemian:

Siemian’s performance over the course of the season suggested he’s more likely a solid backup player than a quality starter, in large part due to his body. To become a quality, winning starter in the NFL, quarterbacks must be able to endure punishment play after play, without their physical skills deteriorating. Body types do matter. Smaller-boned quarterbacks like Siemian lose power in their lower body when sustaining hits, which then affects their arm and ability to control the ball. When healthy, Siemian looked good — better than good. When beaten up from hits, he looked below average. In baseball, pitchers run the outfield warning track on off days to strengthen their legs and enhance their ability to maintain their velocity, which is largely generated from their lower body. The same theory applies for quarterbacks. Quarterbacks have to endure the hits and maintain leg strength, which then allows them to drive the ball — it’s all about the torque in their lower body. Siemian can do this for a portion of the season. But it’s doubtful he could play for 16 games and the playoffs and be a consistent thrower.

And then, of course, Paxton Lynch:

Which then places the burden on second-year player Paxton Lynch, who started two games and played like a rookie — a rookie who was uncomfortable under center, unable to make down-the-field throws, and struggled mightily on third down. Lynch averaged under 5 yards per attempt on third down, which was a signal to all defensive coaches; he wanted the ball out of his hand — now. Like most rookies, he wanted to make the checkdown rather than risk a downfield throw. The game is moving entirely too fast for many rookies. Those hot-potato throws help the completion percentage, but kill any significant progress by the offense. It’s obvious but true: Rookie quarterbacks need time. To develop, to throw, to think.

The trouble Lombardi envisions for the 2017 Broncos comes from the quarterbacks failing to take the next step, leading to easy defensive game planning that shuts down the run and dares a below average quarterback to beat them with their arm.

As we found out last season, that is not a winning proposition in the NFL.

I think one of these two quarterbacks will turn out to be much better than they were last season and will do just enough to keep opposing defenses off balance.

Are the Broncos in trouble? Hell no. The defense alone is good enough for eight wins, so all the offense has to do is come up with some plays to win a few more. I believe that is exactly what will happen.

The entire post is insightful and worth the read, even if the conclusion paints a negative outlook on our favorite team.

Horse Tracks

Broncos Minicamp Day 3 takeaways: Vance Joseph's message, and how he'll evaluate the QBs
Having played quarterback through his college years, Joseph will call on his own experience in QB competitions to help guide him during the training-camp battle to come.

Mike McCoy and Terrell Davis relive time as teammates at Long Beach State
The two spent a couple years as teammates in California.

Broncos wrap up offseason, start vacation |
And now sports fans, a break from the NFL.

Siemian believes QB competition is good for the Broncos |
Sure, Trevor Siemian would like to be the Broncos starting quarterback again, but he understands why he has to battle for it once more. He says he doesn't mind the competition.

Healthy Brandon Marshall speaks on goal to sack Tom Brady and more | Broncos Wire
Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall is eager to sack New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the 2017 NFL season.

Jaguars claim Taurean Nixon off waivers
Nixon was let go by Denver on Wednesday.

Projecting the Broncos' 2017 practice squad
A projected breakdown of the Broncos' 10-man 2017 practice squad.

Film Room: Understanding What Isaiah McKenzie Brings To The Denver Broncos Offense
The Broncos selected wideout Isaiah McKenzie in the fifth round. As one of the stars of Broncos OTAs, what does McKenzie bring to the table? Colby Valdez examines the film.

NFL News

Race, Class, Politics, Religion on an NFL Team | The MMQB with Peter King
Just how diverse is a typical NFL locker room? We surveyed 51 members of the Denver Broncos on the subjects of class, race, religion, upbringing, politics and more

Ryan Shazier says ‘the NFL has a Patriots problem’ and the Steelers can solve it -
The Pittsburgh title fever from the Penguins is spreading to the Steelers.

Raiders have a chance to be great, but they’re running out of time in Oakland -
Derek Carr may be the brightest star the Raiders have had since Marcus Allen.

Christian McCaffrey finally got to make his OTA debut on the last day of Panthers minicamp -
Christian McCaffrey wasn’t allowed to practice until after Stanford’s final exams. That left enough time for one OTA.

Rams only have 2 players left on the roster from blockbuster Robert Griffin III trade -
That trade didn’t work out the way the Rams or Washington expected.

Kirk Cousins’ cousin drafted by the Washington Nationals -
Keep the family close!

Do you think Josh Norman's most fun matchup is Odell Beckham Jr. or Dez Bryant? -
If you had to pick one receiver you can’t wait to see Norman face off against next season, who would you choose?

Are the Jets really tanking? -
The Jets are a dumpster fire right now, but they’re just following the standard NFL rebuild playbook.