What Went Wrong Last Year?
With the departure of Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler after their championship season, the position of quarterback was up for grabs. Manning didn’t particularly perform well and Osweiler was alright, leading many to believe that with good/average quarterback play, Denver could win it all again. Ultimately, that didn’t end up happening, leaving many fans questioning Mile HIgh’s future. What deserves most of the blame for the disappointing season? The answer isn’t simply one thing, but there was weak spots in their game. First, the offensive line was horrendous. They didn’t allow Siemian nearly enough time to get the job done. Siemian was already inexperienced, so that in combination with a faulty offensive line lead to disaster. Next up, the weak QB play. This is obviously tied in with the offensive line, but Siemian didn’t make anyone too impressed. He finished the season with 55.8 QBR (21st), 3,401 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 picks, along with 4 fumbles. Another product of the poor line was the sub-par rushing attack. They finished 28th in rushing yards, which is not nearly enough to help out Siemian. With 2017 season approaching, did they correct these holes to warrant a winning season?
Key Offseason Additions/Losses
Additions: Garett Bolles, Jake Butt, Ronald Leary, Domata Peko
These are some nice additions to the team overall. Bolles was a solid tackle for Utah in a relatively weak lineman class. Along with that, they signed Ronald Leary from the Dallas Cowboys. He should make an impact on the offensive line with Bolles as well. Jake Butt was a late round steal, as he was coming off an injury. He should provide a bit more firepower for the Broncos. Lastly, Domata Peko will help the Broncos on the defensive front, which is a need.
Losses: DeMarcus Ware
Losing Ware isn’t going to have a major effect on the Broncos, due to his injuries, and his lack of play time last year. He was definitely a force while he was on the field though. Denver lost players such as Russell Okung, Jordan Norwood, Sylvester Williams and Vance Walker, but shouldn’t have a major effect.
Note: Shane Ray could miss the first game due to injury, but isn’t expected to miss much time.
2017 Schedule Predictions
The Denver Broncos have the toughest schedule this year. Can they push through?
Week 1: Home vs. LA Chargers: W (1-0)
To start the season, the Broncos face the improving Chargers. The Broncos pass defense is still too much for Rivers, leading to a win.
Week 2: Home vs. Dallas Cowboys: L (1-1)
Zeke should be ready to go, causing issues for Denver. Denver can’t manage to score enough and keep their defense off of the field.
Week 3: @Buffalo Bills: W (2-1)
Denver rebounds after a tough loss against Dallas. They struggle against Shady and the run, but hold on because of their secondary.
Week 4: Home vs. Oakland Raiders: L (2-2)
Oakland is the dominate force in the West this year. Oakland’s high-power offense runs away with this one.
Week 5: Bye: (2-2)
Week 6: Home vs. New York Giants: L (2-3)
With the combination of offense and stout defense, the Giants win this game with relative ease. Even with Eli throwing a pick or two, Denver finds it hard to score on New York.
Week 7: @LA Chargers: L (2-4)
The season looks to be slipping through the cracks as they split the series with LA.
Week 8: @Kansas City Chiefs: L (2-5)
The Broncos lose in a close one with KC. Kansas City’s playmakers burn them, making it hard for Denver to muster up the points.
Week 9: @Philadelphia Eagles: L (2-6)
Phili is making some noise this year and defeats Denver. QB continues to be a problem.
Week 10: Home vs. New England Patriots: L (2-7)
The losing streak continues as the Patriots win easy in Denver. Nobody is surprised, but Denver is losing control.
Week 11: Home vs. Cincinnati Bengals: W (3-7)
Denver rebounds after several losses with a nice win against the Bengals. Denver’s pass rush overwhelms the weak line of the Bengals.
Week 12: @Oakland Raiders: W (4-7)
In a massive upset, Denver wins. They come out on top in an overtime game.
Week 13: @Miami Dolphins: W (5-7)
The small streak continues with the defeat of Miami. Ajayi gives them issues, but the secondary once again wins them a game.
Week 14: Home vs. New York Jets: W (6-7)
The Jets lose. Shocker.
Week 15: @Indianapolis Colts: W (7-7)
There is some hope after a tight win in Indianapolis. Denver is able to score against a struggling Colts defense.
Week 16: @Washington Redskins: L (7-8)
Playoff hopes are diminished in a tough loss against the Redskins. The run game of the Redskins turns up, leading to the defeat of Denver.
Week 17: Home vs. Kansas City Chiefs: W (8-8)
Denver stuns the Chiefs, winning the game with a game winning pick. The game proves to be meaningless to them though.
Maybe Next Year
I predict that the Bronco’s will go 8-8. This shouldn’t be a huge shock because of the lack of talent at QB. Siemian and Lynch will both get time this season, but none end up performing amazing. This leads to yet another offseason of confusion about who will lead the team. Maybe a quarterback falls in Denver’s lap in the draft. Another issue throughout the season is the running game. No running back in Denver defines their role. Free agency might be needed for a new running back. On a positive note, Denver started to establish an offensive line. With time, they could actually have a solid group. Another plus is Jake Butt. I predict that he will come on late in the season, providing the first good tight end since Julius Thomas. Best case, Denver goes 9-7 in my opinion, but worst case, they go 6-10. The AFC West is a tough division to thrive in, and Denver will learn that this year. That coupled with a tough schedule outside of the West, leads Denver to a rough season. They aren’t necessarily a bad team, but an upgrade at QB will be key to their success in the future.
Demaryius Thomas: 80 receptions/1,000 yards/5 touchdowns
Emmanuel Sanders: 75 receptions/950 yards/5 touchdowns
Jake Butt: 45 receptions/450 yards/4 touchdowns