The Denver Broncos are entering a rebuilding phase, whether they want to admit it or not.
The team fired head coach Vance Joseph this offseason and brought in former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Fangio, one of the better defensive minds in the game, has spent the past 19 season in a coordinator role, so it will be interesting to see how he transitions with more responsibility. The team also brought back Gary Kubiak to be the offensive coordinator, which forms a formidable coaching duo on both sides of the ball.
GM John Elway brought in two quarterbacks this offseason, Joe Flacco and Rookie Drew Lock. Outside of bringing in Peyton Manning as a free agent, Elway has struggled to develop quarterback talent, so it will be critical to his future that Lock develops or Flacco regains his 2013 levels of production, or the Broncos could be in the market for a new GM next February.
Flacco should get the nod to start the season as the number one quarterback, but should he falter, he could find himself in the same position as last year: on the bench watching a rookie take his snaps. Flacco has stated that he has no interest in mentoring Drew Lock, so it will be interesting to watch the dynamic in that room this season.
At running back the team is set with last season’s out-of-nowhere rookie sensation Phillip Lindsey, who will look to build on his strong performance. The wide receivers are a different story. Outside of Emmanuel Sanders, the team is full of question marks. Cortland Sutton showed potential with 42 catches for 704 yards last year, but will need to be more consistent going forward. The team was able to snag Iowa’s Noah Fant, a receiving tight end, in the first round who should be a solid target for Flacco and or Lock.
There are some changes along the offensive line as well. The team brought in free agent Ja’Wuan James from Miami to play right tackle (making him the highest paid right tackle in history no less), and rookie Dalton Risner from Northwestern, who should be able to win the battle for right guard. Revamping the right side of the line should help the Broncos in 2019, but it will require them to build cohesion quickly.
Defensively the Broncos still have one of the better overall groups in the league. The team was able to avoid a disastrous situation with Chris Harris, one of the best cornerbacks in the league, by agreeing to a reworked one year deal. They also went out and acquired Kareem Jackson as a free agent to put next to him. While Jackson is in the back half of his career, he is still a solid option and give the team a strong top of the depth chart.
The linebacker position is one of the glaring weaknesses on the team. They lost Brandon Marshall and didn't do much to replace him. Josey Jewell showed flashes as a rookie last year, starting nine games and racking up 53 total tackles behind marshall. He is the best bet to replace him in the middle.
Along the line, the team is still stacked. Von Miller is one of the best pass rushers in the league and is a future Hall of Famer. Derek Wolfe is a stud who plays with a nastiness few in the league possess. Rookie Dre’Mont Jones from Ohio State should also be a factor this season. If the team can find a way to plug the hole at linebacker, then they will rank towards the top of the league.
Offseason Grade: B | Expected 2019 AFC West Finish: 4
On paper the team had a strong draft, which is the only reason they received a B. Flacco doesn't represent a major upgrade at QB, they overpaid for Ja'Wuan James, and failed to address the linebacker position adequately in free agency or the draft. Drew Lock will be the starter at QB by Week 9.
Graduate of Loyola Maryland and die hard Boston sports fan. "I rub it in pretty good when I win" - Tom Brady