We are almost to the point where we can report on things that actually happen on the field rather than only speculate on what might. Thank goodness. Though what happens in training camp will lead to yet more speculation, at least it will be based on some facts rather than whatever we can pull out of our wild offseason imaginations.
On the podcast we talk about the three things that we will likely hear coming from camp and what we should think about them plus three “hot takes” that will likely get me some hate in the comment section. I’ll summarize the six points below.
Three things we’ll undoubtedly hear out of Dove Valley:
#1 - Joe Flacco will be great
Flacco is a veteran who will be working in a scheme that he is fairly familiar with and with weapons that many QBs would drool over. At this point in his career he should totally own training camps even if it’s against a Fangio-led defense (more on that later).
That said, even if Flacco is terrible, we will almost assuredly hear only good things about him from his teammates and media. The Broncos really need to sell the new QB to their fans, especially since he was despised before he was traded to Denver - and because he isn’t Peyton Manning. Vegas has the Broncos at seven wins in 2019 and that will be tough to swallow for the proud fans of the orange and blue. The low-risk quarterback makes sense for those who understand rebuilding, contracts and the like, but for the casual fan he needs to be the savior of a team that has been the dregs of the NFL for far too long.
And the Broncos will do their best to make us believe that is the case.
#2 - Emmanuel Sanders is on-pace to be 100% by Week 1
Hold your horses a bit on this one (pun intended). Though the veteran receiver has looked fluid and quick in his offseason social media videos, he is coming off a tough injury that could take a few more months to fully heal. He is in a “prove it” situation and will have to perform if he wants to earn another big contract in the near future. Undoubtedly Sanders will claim that he has never felt better and he’s ready to go on day one but let’s wait and see how his body holds up against the brutal physicality of the NFL regular season.
Here’s to hoping that the dude can ball-out like he has done over his entire time in Denver. Love me some Sanders.
#3 - Dalton Risner is a pain in the ***
I mean this in the best way possible. Apparently during offseason mini-camps, the rookie had to be told to cool it a bit by his teammates. As a fan, that’s exactly what we want to hear about one of our favorites. But as a defender, he’s likely to drive you crazy. That’s a huge plus when you are facing other teams, but it’s likely to cause at least a few fights during camp. If he doesn’t start at least one fight in the next few weeks I’ll name my future cat Dalton Risner.
Three things you’ll probably disagree with:
#1 - Booker will be the second RB out of camp
The veteran running back has stuck around with the team because he is able to understand new schemes, pick up blitzes and is decently productive as a runner. These are all things that will push him ahead of Royce Freeman in the fight to back up Phillip Lindsay in the Broncos backfield. Freeman has the ability to be a very good runner, but the rest is a question mark. It’s not easy to pick up new schemes or to block with a new QB and practically new offensive line, and the second-year RB could struggle to put things together to start 2019. Hopefully, if he begins the year as the No. 3, he will put the pieces together during the season and become the talented player we all know he can be.
#2 - Lock will be great
This isn’t as hot of a take, and there are plenty of Drew Lock fans out there, but it’s not usual for a rookie QB to come into his first season and have a ton of success. Everything is harder in the NFL. The players are bigger, stronger and faster and the language and schemes are more difficult to understand than the typical college playbooks. Still, he seems like a guy who “has what it takes” to succeed at this level, and his personality and smarts should work well with his rocket arm and physical gifts. He has no pressure playing behind Flacco and can learn from an up-and-coming offensive coordinator in Rich Scangarello. The dominoes really could all fall into place, and the rookie will excite the fans from day one and all the way through the preseason.
#3 - The offense will outperform the defense
This must be the hottest take of all because everyone expects the D to be the strength of the 2019 Broncos. I think they’re wrong. There are a lot of weaknesses (seemingly) on the defensive side of the ball, and again, they have to learn a new scheme. Fangio built a great squad in Chicago, but it took him a few years to do so. He needs to find players who can work with what he likes to do and in year one, it’s hard to say which guys will fit the bill.
The ILBs are really not great, and the defensive backfield is overrated. On the flip side, Flacco has been given the keys to an offense that should fit his skills perfectly. He has an extremely talented tight end - which he loves like a security blanket - and has some really talented pass catchers and running backs. There are rumblings that the OL will be above average, and if this is the case, the offense could actually be sneaky O.K. They won’t be world beaters, but after what we’ve had to watch over the past few seasons, they will seem to be so.
In the end, Flacco will own preseason and we will head into Week 1 full of unbridled hope for a 2019-20 Super Bowl - as we do every season.
More likely to happen at camp
This poll is closed
Booker wins #2 slot at RB
Lock will rock
Defense will struggle