Not only is he just awesome, he’s got some docllv optimism about this 2020 Broncos team and that’s always a good thing (just trust me even if you don’t agree with me!)
But Atwater is not just optimistic for the sake of being optimistic. The Hall-of-Fame safety has some reasons, beginning with the fact that he believes the defense will be better this season.
“For one, it is the second year of running this defense,” Atwater said, acknowledging that the new faces of A.J. Bouyé and Jurrell Casey in place of Chris Harris Jr. and Derek Wolfe will bring some growing pains. “But they’ve got guys who will go out and play hard and bring great leadership. AND...Bradley Chubb will be back.”
And on the offensive side, Atwater is excited to see how Drew Lock develops with all the new weapons. Earlier this week ESPN did a mock redraft in 2020 with all available players, and Jeff Legwold picked Drew Lock at No. 15 overall, making him the 11th quarterback taken in the redraft and ahead of 21 other quarterbacks, including Matt Ryan, Teddy Bridgewater and Kyler Murray.
Although Atwater isn’t ready to crown Lock the 15th best player in the league, but he is ready to see what appears to be great things ahead for the young quarterback.
“On paper, the potential is absolutely there. He’s got the gun, he’s got the mobility, he’s got the weapons. I think he has the offensive line as well,” Atwater said, acknowledging he believes Garett Bolles will do fine this season. “So the potential is there (for Lock); now he has to go out and prove it. Is he the 15th best player in the league? No. Not yet. I don’t even know if he’s the 15th best quarterback at this point. But I’m sure he’s happy on our team. He’s a young guy with a ton of potential, a lot of excitement and a lot of confidence.”
Helping Lock with that confidence will be third-year wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who will be one of the oldest vets on the offense.
Ryan Edwards posed a near impossible question to Atwater, asking whether Lock to Sutton or Lock to Jerry Jeudy would be the more prolific duo next season.
Tonight’s #BroncosCountry Tonight POLL with @redwardsradio @AllbrightNFL @AnthonyRod33:— KOA NewsRadio 850 AM & 94.1 FM (@KOAColorado) June 10, 2020
Which #Broncos QB-WR duo will be more productive in the next 2 seasons? Lock & Sutton or Lock & Jeudy?
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⏰: 7 pm
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& : https://t.co/OGeN87y2h7
Begrudgingly, Atwater made a choice - Courtland Sutton - “simply because he is a beast.”
With more offensive weapons, for defenses to have to pay attention to, Sutton won’t draw all the double and triple teams and can showcase his talent more.
But Atwater also believes that the crazy start to the 2020 season will put Jeudy at a bit of a disadvantage - as it will with all rookies unable to get a head start on learning the offense with teammates on the field.
“With way things are going, Jerry Jeudy may be off to a slower start because things started later and he won’t be as versed with the offense,” Atwater said. “Hopefully he’ll be up to speed, but from my perspective, if they’re not practicing together, and he’s not hearing cadences from coaches, it’s going to be a little longer.”
And even if teams still double Sutton, Atwater believes he’ll be able to handle it.
“He’s a big guy, strong and can run with ball after it,” Atwater said. “We saw teams give double and triple coverage sometimes and he still came up with the catch.”
Regardless of who is catching or running with the ball, Atwater has good vibes about this squad. He’s not taking his usual 16-0 bet, but he’s still betting on wins.
“I haven’t been this excited about the Broncos in a while,” he said. “I’m not going to say 16-0, but we’re going to win a lot of football games.”
Might as well get your bets on number of wins too:
This poll is closed
Under .500 (boo for you!)
8-9 wins (moving on up)
10 wins (playoffs, baby!)
11+ (bring it!)