One of the great things about Mile High Report is that we so many contributors, you can’t help but produce an opinion that turns out to be right. Excuse us while we do a victory lap.
Such was the case on this very day in 2015. Former staffer Big_Pete1999 called the Broncos shot with a 5-point argument on how the Broncos will win Super Bowl 50. Some of his arguments were absolutely spot-on. Others were somewhat hopeful in nature.
Our rookies will step up. Yes, I’m looking at you Shane Ray. You too Ty Sambrailo. You guys will be needed, especially Ty. While all teams would want to start their franchise with a top tier quarterback, most will quickly point out that they also need a top tier left tackle to protect the blindside. Having Aaron Rodgers won’t do you any good if he’s laying flat on his back and unable to get back up because he’s getting killed with every drop back. That’s why Ty MUST be the answer to left tackle. There’s no other option. The encouraging news is that DeMarcus Ware is saying that Ty is looking legit. Don’t look now, but our offensive line, while unproven and scary, might be coming together.
Narrator: Ty Sambrailo did not step up and become a premier left tackle. Unfortunately, Ty’s 2015 season was cut short after just three games. It would be the following season that Broncos Country would get a disappointing look at him in 10 games before subsequently trading him to Atlanta for a 5th round draft pick. Sambrailo would go on to play for the Titans and announced his retirement in October 2021.
Shane Ray, on the other hand, showed up in a support role that was decent for a rookie. He appeared in 14-games that year and started none of them. He notched 4-sacks, 15-solo tackles, 5-assisted tackles, and 5-tackles for loss. Ray would only play for 4-years and only with the Broncos. After a benchmark 2016 season injuries out keep him out of games in 2017 and 2018. It was always weird that he had a Chiefs tattoo on his arm.
Our linebacking crew is straight stupid good. Remember how I said that Elway has done little to boost our linebacking corps? Well, like Arnold in Commando, “I lied!” While I still question Danny Trevathan’s ability to overcome his knee issues and be the stud he has been for us, one thing can’t be questioned; Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, and Shane Ray are the real freaking deal.
We will have a three headed quarterback wrecking crew. Not only will they put constant pressure on the opposing quarterback, but they are fast and athletic enough to cover the tight end, especially if T.J. Ward slides down in a support role.
If you just read that and didn’t smile, you probably don’t remember the outcome of Super Bowl 50. If you sub out Shane Ray for Malik Jackson to that list of Pete’s, you’d have hit the trifecta. The Broncos defense from 2015 was perhaps the greatest in team history and was the reason Denver won their third championship.
Wade Phillips will have the Broncos in constant attack mode. Not only is Wade super aggressive, but he believes in having his players play in a system that they are comfortable with. That’s right, gone are the days of having amazing man cover corners only to see them play soft zone. Gone are the days of having fantastic pass rushers, only to seem them drop back into coverage. Gone are the days of playing a bend but don’t break (newsflash: they always break) defense.
Man, wasn’t watching Wade’s defense so much fun? Big_Pete was absolutely correct. It’s not hyperbole saying that the 2015 Broncos had one of the greatest defenses of all time. It’s true because Wade Phillips did indeed have them attacking and disrupting. It was a marvelous thing to watch.
The Broncos are installing a balanced attack on offense. I’m not talking about a “Peyton is hurt, we need to start running the ball more” type offense midway through the season. No, I’m talking about a balanced offense by design, and implemented in the offseason. That’s the only way balanced offenses actually work. When you truly have a 50/50 split from day one, great things happen. Not only will #18 have less burden to bear, but any irregularities in his play will be covered up by the overall focus and effectiveness of the running game.
Full disclosure: The Broncos offense in 2015 was not the greatest. All these years later, to hear people talk about it, the dominant feeling is that Kubiak’s offense stifled a hobbled Peyton Manning who was then asked, along with the defense, to bail the team out. However, there were moments of stunning offensive greatness in that season. Most notably the game at home against Green Bay on November 1, 2015 and the Sunday Night Football game at home against the New England Patriots on November 29.
The game versus Green Bay was the most offensively explosive game of the season. Denver absolutely crushed Aaron Rodger’s Packers, 29-10. Peyton Manning threw for 340-yards and both Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson combined for four touchdowns.
If there was ever a game to support Big_Pete’s assertion of great things being borne from a day-one 50/50 split, it’s the iconic game under the lights in the snow at Mile High. It was because of the balance of that 2015 squad that the Broncos were able to overcome a 21-7 4th quarter deficit. Backup Brock Osweiler managed to throw it for 270 yards and a touchdown, while C.J. Anderson, the player no Broncos fan will ever forget streaking down the field for the overtime win) amassed 113-yards and 2 touchdowns.
Because even if our defense struggles, or our running games struggles, we still have Peyton Freaking Manning! Allow me to channel my inner Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann and say, “In Manning We Trust.”
Remember people, we have the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Peyton Manning is the most cerebral quarterback of all time. Not only does he hold every record that holds any meaning for quarterbacks, but he’s also a motivator and film room junkie. He pushes his teammates at every turn. He raises all boats and makes everyone around him better.
2015 was a rollercoaster ride for Peyton Manning and Broncos Country in general. After being injured in the Colts game on November 8, the Sherriff just wasn’t himself the following week in Kansas City. In comes Brock Osweiler, who does a better than decent job until the final week of the regular season. The team was lethargic against the Chargers in a must-have game to secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. What to do?
The jolt of energy that radiated through the team when Kubiak decided to put Peyton back in was so charged that it not only carried Denver out of that game with a win, but propelled them forward into the playoffs and into possession of the Broncos third Super Bowl Championship. Peyton Manning indeed raises all boats. We were tremendously fortunate to have him.
...and now we turn the page. The next chapter of this story will be written by Russell Wilson and his band of Denver Broncos. Writing this has been a fun walk down memory lane, but it’s exciting to think about what is just around the corner this season.
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