For all the struggles the Denver Broncos have had since Super Bowl 50, it looks like the team is determined to bring back the Denver standard. Here are three reasons why the Broncos will be one of the seven AFC teams competing in January.
New Broncos Culture
With a new coaching staff in place, it brings many new ideas to the team. The first obvious one we have seen in training camp and interviews is a different style of coaching and energy compared to previous years. Starting directly from the top as head coach, Nathaniel Hackett’s personality burns bright with excitement that the team quite frankly hasn’t seen in the past few years with Vic Fangio previously at the lead.
While there are still players on the roster used to the dull coaching staff with few expectations, it is changing by inserting Russell Wilson’s leadership and aggressive altitude desiring that winning culture all the time. Hackett and Wilson leading the charge in expectations will leave no excuses for players to live up to that winning standard.
Running Back Room
Their second-round pick from the 2021 draft Javonte Williams showed out his rookie year with 903 rushing yards, four touchdowns, and more broken tackles than Jonathan Taylor on 100 fewer rushing attempts. From the looks of training camp so far he looks to be RB1 and has earned it by showing up to OTAs and being a big contributor in the run game last year. That would put Melvin Gordon at RB2. This would allow Denver to continue to have one of the best RB duos in the league. Gordon is a strong veteran RB that has previously had some issues holding onto the ball having 16 fumbles throughout his seven-year career.
The media has also questioned his leadership in previous years. However, with Wilson in the driver’s seat being a former Wisconsin teammate of Gordon’s, it brings a solid leader to this offensive group. Mike Boone who was brought in last year by GM George Paton who knew him well in Minnesota brings a change of pace at RB3 for the Broncos who can contribute speed that is needed every once in a while.
Young Defense With Solid Pieces
While ILB is a bit of a concern with the 2022-23 Denver defense, Broncos Country can feel some comfort with Justin Simmons and Pat Surtain II in the secondary. Surtain II has had a very solid camp up to this point. Some think he could even overtake Simmons as the best player on this defense which would be unbelievable considering Simmons is ranked as the best safety by several national media platforms.
Outside of those two cornerstone pieces, there are definitely multiple players on this defense with something to prove; young and a specific veteran. Some of the younger lesser-known names include second-year ILB Jonas Griffith, second-year LB Baron Browning, and third-year CB Michael Ojemudia. Griffith is a piece of the questionable inside linebacker group. He has shown some potential since going undrafted and coming from the 49ers to being a solid piece in that room but will have to prove it in the upcoming year.
Browning had a decent rookie season with few chances to show off due to injury and depth the Broncos had ahead of him during the 2021-22 season. Ojemudia has a fresh start with this coaching staff to prove he is valuable at the cornerback position. He has two obvious guys ahead of him in Surtain II and Ronald Darby, but after that, there are some questions. The former Iowa Hawkeye had an eye-catching rookie season, forcing four fumbles! It was surprising for a rookie and possibly even more impressive for a CB. For whatever reason, he lost the trust of the coaching staff and only played two games in 2021 not racking up any noticeable stats. For those three guys, it is a big year for their young careers.
With all that said, it is a huge year for a specific veteran; that would be former fifth overall pick, Bradley Chubb. Chubb had 12 sacks his rookie year in a dynamic tandem with Von Miller who had 14.5 sacks that same year. Since then, it has been rather quiet for Chubb’s production. There have been reasonable excuses since that 2018 season on why the numbers have been low; including injury and poor coaching, but those are thrown out the window as Chubb is entering a contract year.
The thought of that alone will surely push him to be the best he can be, but the situation of being drafted fifth overall and a fanbase expecting him to look somewhat like former Bronco Von Miller has officially made this the biggest upcoming season of his career. Chubb will undoubtedly have something to prove and Broncos Country expects him to show out along with new teammate Randy Gregory. This defense is hungry, with a competent offense this defensive unit has a ton of reasons to be unstoppable this season.
Playoffs Or Bust
The Denver Broncos’ standard throughout nearly all of their time being an organization of the NFL has been to be a successful team that always has a mentality of being in a competitive group of possibly being in the Super Bowl. The team the last few years has fallen short of that time and time again. With a potentially explosive offense that is driven by the backfield and a defense that has promising talent, this will be the year they live up to that standard of being competitive for an AFC West title, and possibly even the Super Bowl.
If they land anywhere short of being above .600 and making the playoffs it will be a massive disappointment and they know that. The pressure is mounting as we near the start of preseason, but Broncos Country will continue to be optimistic and support the team as they enter the 2022-23 season.