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Horse Tracks: Finding silver linings in a hapless Broncos’ season

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The Denver Broncos are 3-6 heading into their bye week. It’s obvious the season hasn’t turned out as well as many had hoped, but there are several silver linings that should spark optimism across Broncos Country.

Houston Texans v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country.

After enduring a woeful 5-11 season in 2017, the Denver Broncos were confident that this year would be different.

Unfortunately, what they believed and what has transpired are two entirely different stories. Sporting a 3-6 record entering their bye week, the franchise on the verge of enduring back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in over four and a half decades. It’s amazing to witness how far the Broncos have fallen since they hoisted their third Lombardi Trophy several years ago.

One of the league’s most proud and storied franchises has fallen into a pit that has no certain timetable to be dug out of.

A former player has questioned the leadership at the top of the organization. A current player believes there is ‘something deeper’ going on in Dove Valley that they can’t quite explain. The team has a head coach who is unfit for command and has no issue doubling down on erroneous situational football escapades. In some ways it appears as if John Elway’s free agent magic has faded, with Denver no longer being a well-regarded destination to continue on a football journey.

There aren’t many positives to talk about with respect to the organization over the past few years, but there are certainly a handful of silver linings that should give some modicum of hope when thinking about the future.

After years of questionable drafts, it appears as if the Broncos’ 2018 class is shaping up to be one of the best in team history. After a relatively slow start, first-round draft selection Bradley Chubb has emerged as one of the best young defenders in the National Football League. Courtland Sutton has showcased top-tier ability and a knack for making uncanny big-time catches. Without question, it seems like the first-year player out of Southern Methodist is destined for stardom. There is little to no reason to believe he won’t get better as his career progresses.

While absent from last Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans, rookie running back Royce Freeman has proven to be the hard-nosed interior runner with a penchant for trucking defenders thus far in his rookie campaign. Phillip Lindsay, his undrafted counterpart, has exceeded expectations and cemented himself as the most versatile play-makers in all of football. The Broncos have their running back duo for the foreseeable future and that’s something to be excited about. Fourth-round selection Josey Jewell appears poised to be a long-term starter for the franchise and has improved throughout the course of the season. Moreover, several other rookies have had their moments and give hope that the future foundations of the franchise are strong.

Other young players have made their mark as well. Third-year interior offensive lineman Connor McGovern has shown his versatility and improved this season where he has been a full-time starter. Adam Gotsis and Shelby Harris continue to be an integral part of the defensive line rotation in the Mile High City. While I’m still baffled that DeMarcus Walker hasn’t seen more playing time, he has registered four tackles, a tackle for loss, one sack, multiple hurries and a fumble recovery in the two games he has played. Considering the season has been flushed down the proverbial toilet, there is no question he deserves more time on the field.

All is not lost for the Broncos. Though it is going to take finding a competent head coach, another top-notch draft as well as significant gains via trade or the free agent market to reforge the franchise into a contender in the future. It has happened before and it will happen again, but the only question is how long will it be for them to be relevant again? Hopefully sooner than we think.

As always, thank you for reading and here is today’s offering of Horse Tracks.

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