Good morning, Broncos Country!
There hasn’t been much to get excited about lately when it comes to the Denver Broncos.
The last two seasons haven’t been much fun. While the results haven’t shown up in terms of the record this season, you can (finally) see the path to future success, and it starts with the defense.
When you look at where the unit started this season and where it is now, it’s a testament to the players, Vic Fangio and the defensive coaches. It was going to take time for the players to learn the system and terminology, where they need to be and what they need to do. They needed to learn how to have success in this defense. It’s safe to say the Broncos have figured it out and it’s now one of the best units in football.
Denver is currently fourth in the NFL in total defense and against the pass. It’s eighth in points. Perhaps the stat that best illustrates where the defense is right now is the Broncos are second in red-zone defense.
As Cecil Lammey of 104.3 The Fan put it to Adam Malnati and me on the state of the franchise podcast (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify), you’re seeing buy-in from the players on defense. The Broncos know what they need to do and how to do it. It’s also just the start.
The play of Alexander Johnson, Davontae Harris, Malik Reed and Mike Purcell have crossed off items of need for this defense. John Elway will continue to look for depth at all of those positions, which is always a must, but their play lessens the urgency; especially at middle linebacker. As I said earlier this week, the Broncos haven’t had a dominant middle linebacker like Johnson since Al Wilson. If Harris continues to play as well as he has, the secondary is suddenly a major strength going forward. That’s before the hopeful re-signings of Justin Simmons and Chris Harris Jr. In terms of the defensive line, I’d also like to see Derek Wolfe brought back, given how well he’s played.
That’s where the excitement for the future comes into the fold.
Come the 2020 season, Denver will (hopefully) see the return of Bradley Chubb and Bryce Callahan. Then you add in whatever pieces Elway and the Broncos add via free agency and the NFL Draft to a unit that is already one of the best in the NFL. Suddenly, you see a team that could become a legitimate playoff contender.
The key is the quarterback position and why it’s paramount for Denver find out what it has in rookie Drew Lock. If Brandon Allen is able to go on the road against the Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills and prove he’s the guy, so be it. If not, give Lock the remaining five games so you know what you have and what you need to do in the offseason.
After two-plus seasons with little to get excited about and no relief in sight, the path to success has finally emerged.
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