The Denver Broncos look to start the year with Joe Flacco as their signal-caller. After being benched in 2018, Flacco will need to do a better job at pushing the ball down the field more consistently, and being more accurate with his deep ball and throwing when dealing with blitzes. If Flacco is unable to produce, the Broncos still have a promising rookie QB in Lock who has a strong arm but needs to work on his vision.
Phillip Linsday had an efficient and productive season last year behind a subpar offensive line. He has good ball carrying skills but needs to work on being more elusive in open space.
Protection & Blocking
Last year, the Broncos were great at run blocking but horrible at pass protection. To fix this, the Broncos brought in free-agent acquisition Ja'Wuan James and rookie Dalton Risner to drastically improve their OL, but they will need Ronald Leary to stay healthy and Connor McGovern to develop as a center if this OL is going to protect Flacco/Lock next season.
The Broncos have promising WRs in Courtland Sutton and Daesean Hamilton and will have a proven productive veteran WR in Emmanuel Sanders if he can stay healthy. Plus, rookie TE, Noah Fant should be a good receiving option for Flacco next season.
Skills Analysis Notes
The Denver Broncos offense looks to rebound in 2019 due to the improvements they made to the offensive line to address their poor pass protection last year. Moreover, with Joe Flacco replacing Case Keenum, the Broncos offense should improve from a passing standpoint, but might have lapses of stagnancy. Running back Phillip Lindsay excelled last season due to his blazing speed and great ball-carrying ability, and rookie tight-end, Noah Fant, will be a huge mismatch for LBs due to his blazing speed as well. Lindsay, Fant and WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton will provide Flacco with big-play capability as well as consistency, especially in the red zone.
Vonn Miller and Bradley Chubb are a two-headed monster along the defensive line because of their incredible ability to rush the passer.
Todd Davis is a quality LB for the Broncos, especially as a run defender, but they will need the supporting LB corps to develop if they are going to be successful next season.
The Broncos have three great cornerbacks with Chris Harris Jr, Kareem Jackson, and Bryce Callahan. However they will need safety Justin Simmons to improve his coverage skills this season.
Controlling Field Position
Skills Analysis Notes
The Broncos defensive line looks to be extremely successful stopping the run and rushing the passer with Vonn Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Dre'Mont Jones. Also, their cornerback situation is solid with Chris Harris Jr., Bryce Callahan and Kareem Jackson locking down opposing WRs in the passing game. However, they have liabilities at the LB and safety positions, so they are likely to give up some big plays across the middle and deep down the field.
Special Teams and Coaching
Overall Unit Analysis
Brandon McManus is accurate from 20-49 yards but has shown an inability to hit field goals from 50+ yards.
Overall Coaching / School Analysis
This will be Vic Fangio's first season as a head coach. Throughout his 40 years of experience as a defensive coordinator and assistant, he has proven to be very good at preparing his defensives before a game and coming up with intricate systems to confuse opposing QBs, stuff the run and rush the passer. That's why the Chicago Bears were the best defensive unit with him as a defensive coordinator, especially the front seven. The reason why he wasn't given any A's is only that he hasn't had any experience as a head coach, and the Broncos just fired a defensive-minded head coach. Furthermore, their defense wasn't the problem last year, so expectations need to be tempered when it comes to how much Fangio can bring to this team.
This Broncos team is a sneaky good unit that is stocked with talent and potential. It is clear that their defensive line and the offensive line will be the biggest factors for their success in 2019. While defensive line looks primed to terrorize opposing backfields in both the passing and running game, the offensive line is going to need to do a better job of pass protection (ranked the 3rd worst pass protection unit in 2018), so that Joe Flacco can be a successful signal-caller (Flacco was ranked as the 19th best QB at handing pressure last season). If the OL can do their job successfully, Flacco should be able to maximize the abundant talent that he has at the TE and WR positions with Noah Fant, Courtland Sutton, and Emmanuel Sanders.
Last season, did the team
meet your expectations?
Slightly Under-performed Expectations
I expect the Broncos to be a team that surprises a lot of people early on because of their off-season acquisitions. First and foremost, their OL should expect to be at least marginally better at protecting the QB with Ja'Wuan James and rookie Dalton Risner along the OL. Furthermore, with RB Phillip Lindsay as their primary bell-cow, and an improved OL, the Broncos should expect to see continued rushing success next year. On the defensive side of the ball, John Elway has improved their cornerback situation by adding Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan. However, there are still some liabilities that will limit the success of the Broncos. For instance, Joe Flacco is a limited QB who wasn't effective at throwing the deep ball in 2018, and that will severely limit the Broncos in 2019.
Additionally, the Broncos are limited at the LB and safety positions, which will likely lead to big plays being given up across the middle and deep down the field. While I believe this team will compete with both the Chargers and Chiefs in the AFC West, they are not in a position to win the division and will likely have to fend for a wild card entrance to make the playoffs. At the very worst, this is a team that gets six wins and dumps Flacco early on, at the best this is a team that surprises people with 9 or 10 wins but still only makes a wild card appearance.