The Denver Broncos got off to a respectable 3-1 start in 2017. Then, it all came crashing down. They lost their next eight games and ended up with a 5-11 record. Two seasons ago, this team won the Super Bowl. Now, they’ll be picking fifth in the upcoming draft. How did this happen?
Quarterback play a mess
It at all starts at the quarterback position, which Broncos general manager John Elway said needs to be improved. Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch combined to throw 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. The Broncos were 27th in completion percentage (58.7), 20th in passing yards (3,333) and 31st in passer rating (73.0).
If the Broncos choose to draft a quarterback with the fifth pick, they will have plenty of options. Three experts from CBS Sports have them picking a quarterback. Will Brinson has them picking former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. Jared Dubin has them picking former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Pete Prisco has them picking former USC quarterback Sam Darnold. However, perhaps a new quarterback isn’t needed. The website Walter Football has Denver taking former Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson. Nelson is widely viewed as the top offensive line prospect of the 2018 Draft.
The Running Game
While Denver’s quarterback play was poor all-around, it’s running back play, for the most part, was respectable. CJ Anderson rushed for 1,007 yards and three touchdowns on 4.1 yards per carry. Denver’s running backs combined to place 12th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (115.8). Where the unit really struggled was scoring. The Broncos running back group combined for only eight scores on the ground, which was 25th in the league.
Defense still effective
The 2015 Broncos won the Super Bowl thanks to a defense that’s viewed as one of the best in NFL history. While the defense is not at the same level as it was then, it’s still an effective unit. In 2017, it ranked third in total defense (290.0 yards allowed per game), fourth in pass defense (200.6 passing yards allowed per game) and fifth in run defense (89.4 rushing yards allowed per game). The scoring defense, however, left much to be desired, ranking 22nd in points allowed (23.9).
The Broncos are clearly not the same team as they were in the past. However, they still have key pieces, and adding just one or two more key pieces could be enough to turn their franchise around.
“The key thing is our team has to play better this year. We didn’t play well as a team … that’s step No. 1.” – Pres. of Football Ops/GM John Elway pic.twitter.com/rabIPYpZWT
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) February 28, 2018