It seems like forever ago that the Broncos triumphed over the Carolina Panthers to win Super Bowl 50. Just two and a half years later, and the Denver roster has undergone a major transformation. While the core of this team remains on the defensive side of the ball, some big changes on offense have restored hopes of reclaiming the division and perhaps even making a deep postseason run.
Denver won that aforementioned Super Bowl by leaning on its defense. More specifically, its ferocious pass rush consistently suffocated opposing quarterbacks in rare fashion. Now, with the addition of Bradley Chubb opposite Von Miller, there is a sense that the Broncos could field perhaps the best pass rush duo in the entire league. It might take some time for Chubb to really hit his stride, but there is also the possibility that he comes out strong from the start. The rest of the Denver defense remains strong, and while they did lose Aqib Talib this offseason, the secondary is still manned by Chris Harris and Bradley Roby to limit opposing aerial attacks.
The main weakness for the Broncos over the past few years has clearly been the offense. Understanding the need for a competent quarterback to lead the team, GM John Elway was aggressive in free agency, securing Case Keenum as the new starting quarterback for the team. Keenum performed admirably last season with the Vikings, replacing an injured Sam Bradford. In the process, he led the team to the NFC Championship game, coming up just short of a Super Bowl appearance. The Broncos believe Keenum’s performance can carry over to the Mile High City, particularly due to the plethora of weapons that will be at his disposal.
Denver’s receivers were already pretty good with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. And now, the Broncos drafted two more receivers in the draft, including Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. Sutton was widely considered one of the top receiver prospects in the entire draft class, while Hamilton ended his collegiate career as Penn State’s all-time leader in receptions. The two complement each other very nicely, and the team hopes they will provide a spark for the offense in certain situations. Sutton is reportedly making great plays in offseason practices.
As far as the running game is concerned, the Broncos also drafted a greater running back in Oregon’s Royce Freeman.
The key for Denver’s success will be the offensive line. There are concerns that the Broncos didn’t do enough to improve their line up front, and that this could lead to many issues despite their recent additions. If they are able to play better than last season, this offense could really take off.
Denver will have its hands full in a highly competitive AFC West. The Chargers are stacked on defense, and they have a very potent offense as well, led by the best quarterback in the division. And the annual matchups with the Chiefs and Raiders are always tough. I expect the defense to be the centerpiece for this team once again. But if the offense can improve from the last two seasons, this team could really surprise people in 2018.