2019 NFL Season Preview- Denver Broncos
For the first time nice the early 70s, the Broncos suffered back to back losing seasons.
Like in 2017, Denver got off to a good start winning their first two games before watching their season crumble. They lost six of their next seven, and despite a three game win streak to even their record at .500, lost their final four games to end the year.
The offense as a whole was mediocre at times and scored more than 30 points just once during the season. Quarterback Case Keenum had a just average season in his first season as a Bronco. He accounted for 17 turnovers and just 20 touchdowns while opting for check downs rather than forcing the ball downfield. Running back Devontae Booker averaged over five yards per carry as a backup and fullback Andy Janovich was an excellent lead blocker and receiver. The tight ends were decimated by injuries. Jake Butt tore his ACL in the first month of the season and Jeff Heuerman broke three ribs and bruised a lung before going on injured reserve. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was traded to Houston midseason and Emmanuel Sanders ruptured his Achilles soon after. Despite losing three starting offensive linemen to injured reserve, the Broncos retooled the line and sustained a running system that produced a 1,000 yard rusher and a solid pass protection.
The defense was once again the strong point of the team but crumbled as the season went on due to the offense's mediocrity. The veteran filled defensive line was stout against the run and collapsed the pocket on passing downs. The linebacker corps was just as strong, especially on the edges. Sahquil Barrett and Shane Ray are quality backups but both were playing on the final year of their deals. Brandon Marshall was slowed for much of the year by injuries. As a whole, the linebackers struggled in pass coverage against tight ends. Cornerback Bradley Roby had many high and lows on the season with some nice defense but some blown coverage. Safety Justin Simmons established himself as a ball hawk while Will Parks played well after Darian Stewart was in and out of the lineup with injuries.
Kicker Brandon McManus has become one of the most accurate kickers in team history. Punter Colby Wadman took over the job after Marquette King was released after a month.
The team had four Pro Bowlers in running back Phillip Lindsey, outside linebacker Von Miller, cornerback Chris Harris Jr., and long snapper Casey Krieter. Miller made his seventh Pro Bowl and All-Pro team with 14.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Harris earned his fourth Pro Bowl selection despite landing on injured reserve with a broken fibula. Krieter was solid in his third year in Denver, making his first Pro Bowl.
The rookie class was one of the most impactful in franchise history. Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb formed a great tandem with Von Miller as he established a club rookie record with 12 sacks. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton was moved into the starting lineup after Demaryius Thomas was traded and showed he could stretch the field, but has to reduce his drops. Running back Royce Freeman was a solid change of pace back with over 500 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Cornerback Isaac Yiadom had an interception in his only start of the season. Inside linebacker Josey Jewell was made the starter midseason when Brandon Marshall went down. Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton became a starter after Emmanuel Sanders was lost for the season, but not much impact was made. Tight end Troy Fumagalli spent the year on injured reserve nursing a sports hernia. Undrafted running back Phillip Lindsey was the surprise of the year as he emerged as the starter and rushed for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns as a Pro Bowl rookie.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
After the disappointing 6-10 season, head coach Vance Joseph was fired the day after the season ended. Joseph went 11-21 in his two seasons as Denver's head coach. 10 days later, the team hired former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to be the new head coach.
With a new head coach come a new coaching staff. Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak was hired to the same position, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback coach Rich Scangarello was brought in to be the new offensive coordinator, and former Chicago Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell was hired to be the new defensive coordinator.
On June 13, 2019, team owner Pat Bowlen died at the age of 75 following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Bowlen, who had served as the team's majority owner since 1984, relinquished control of the team prior to the 2014 season after privately battling the disease five years prior. He was set to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August.
Notable Additions- QB Joe Flacco, RB Theo Riddick, T Chaz Green, T Ju'Wuan James, CB Kareem Jackson
Notable Departures- QB Case Keenum, QB Garrett Grayson, WR Chad Hansen, WR Andre Holmes, T Jared Veldheer, G Max Garcia, C Matt Paradis, DT Domata Peko, LB Shaquil Barrett, LB Shane Ray, LB Brandon Marshall, CB Tramaine Brock, CB Bradley Roby, CB Jamar Taylor, S Darian Stewart
Broncos 2018 Highlights
2019 NFL Draft
The Broncos held the 10th overall pick in the draft and had to make upgrades to get back to their winning ways. Primarily at quarterback, wide receiver, and cornerback.
Case Keenum wasn't the answer and Joe Flacco is nothing more than a short term solution. The team has develop a young quarterback to raise the offense to new heights.
Emmanuel Sanders will be coming off an Achilles injury and while Courtland Sutton showed promise, the receiving corps needs a lot of depth.
The secondary fell a part after His Harris went down and lost three cornerbacks to free agency. The defense could use another lockdown corner opposite Harris to prevent big plays and hold coverage long enough for edge rusher to disrupt the play.
On draft day, Denver traded back with Pittsburgh so the Steelers could draft Devin Bush. So with the 20th overall pick, the Broncos selected Iowa tight end Noah Fant. Fant was seen as the most dangerous tight end after the catch, but was benched many times for his poor run blocking.
Other Notable Draft Picks:
Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State- Proper mechanics, slow out of stance
Drew Look, QB, Missouri- Best arm strength of quarterback class, frustratingly inconsistent
Dre'mont Jones, DT, Ohio State- Good quickness off the snap, lacks bulk for inside man
Justin Hollins, LB, Oregon- Top tackling outside linebacker, not very forceful given size
Juwann Winfree, WR, Colorado- NFL size, injury and character concerns
Notable Undrafted Free Agents:
Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State- Quick release and accuracy, up and down college career
Noah Fant Highlights
What To Expect
When I look at everything the Broncos have done this offseason, they look to have taken a step backwards.
Joe Flacco has not been the same quarterback that won a Super Bowl six years ago and given the team drafting Drew Lock, he doesn't appear to be the long term solution. Lock seems to be a future starter but has a few flaws to workout in his game first. Phillip Lindsey should be healed nicely from his wrist injury late in the year while Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker could help form the trio as a three headed monster. The team also has three capable receiving tight ends with Jake Butt and Jeff Heuerman also being elite blocking tight ends. The main concern is with the receiving corps. Its unknown if Emmanuel Sanders will be at 100% at the start of the season and Courtland Sutton is still pretty inexperienced. The offensive line lost three guys to free agency but should be fine given the pieces they drafted and signed in free agency.
The defensive line should remain solid even with Domata Peko's departure. The linebackers don't have the talented depth they had last season, but the starting four could be something special. The safety duo of Justin Simmons and Will Parks looks to be solid but there doesn't seem to be a lot of suitable depth after Chris Harris and Kareem Jackson.
Denver brought in a defensive minded head coach which well keep the defense strong but with a first year offensive coordinator and yet another new quarterback, I don't see the Broncos challenging the Chiefs or Chargers anytime soon.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 6-10