Coming into the 2016-17 season, many fans expected the Denver Broncos to compete for the AFC West title, and also be considered a threat within the conference. On paper, the roster looked like it could win a handful of regular season games, but in reality, the Broncos failed to meet and surpass expectations, finishing the regular season at 9-7. Placing third in the AFC West, and missing the postseason, can the Denver Broncos bounce back from last season?
On offense, the Broncos averaged 20.8 points per game last season, which placed them 22nd in the league. The offensive unit also racked in 230.3 passing yards per game (22nd), 92.8 rushing yards per game (27th), and 323.1 yards of total offense per game (27th).
On defense, the franchise allowed 18.6 points per game (4th), 185.8 passing yards per game (1st), 130.3 rushing yards per game (28th), and allowed 316.1 total yards per game (4th).
The biggest issue with the Broncos offense last season was their ability to put points on the board, move the ball down the field, and their lack of consistency. Quarterback Trevor Siemian only threw for 3,401 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions last season, so it’s fair to say that he needs to become more consistent as time goes on.
The running game last season was also a downfall of the team. Starting running back C.J. Anderson only lasted seven games before he suffered an injury that kept him out for the rest of the season. Backup Devontae Booker couldn’t fill the void of Anderson, only rushing for 612 yards and 4 touchdowns in the six games he started in Anderson’s absence. If the Broncos are aiming to make the postseason this year, the running game needs to improve drastically.
Even though the team did not make the playoffs, the Broncos defense was superb, as it was led by Pro-Bowler Von Miller, who ended the season with 13.5 sacks. The biggest problem with the defense was their inability to stop the running game, which ranked 28th in the league.
Going into the offseason, the team had holes to fill in order to improve their chances going into this upcoming campaign. The offseason started off hot with head coach Gary Kubiak, who the team hired in 2015, as he stepped down after just two seasons with the team. The Broncos then hired Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph on a four-year deal with the franchise.
The Broncos also focused on their offensive line issues in free agency, signing Ron Leary, Tackle Menelik Watson, and Chris Muller. During the NFL Draft, the Broncos selected tackle Garett Bolles in the first round, showing that their priority for the 2017-18 season was to protect the quarterback. Signing former Kansas City Chiefs star running back Jamal Charles, Siemian will have a lot of pressure taken off of his shoulders, as Charles have proven to be one of the most dominant pass-catchers out of the backfield in recent years.
With the way the Broncos look on paper right now, their hopes of getting into the postseason this upcoming season still don’t look convincing, The franchise still has holes, and their biggest question mark surrounds their supposed leader in Siemian. If the Broncos want to improve this upcoming season, the team needs to consider reeling in a quarterback with more potential. Second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch is an eventual option, but he is still inexperienced, and could take a few years before he develops into the quarterback everyone expects him to be.
With the way division rivals in the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs are improving, it is going to be difficult for the Broncos to compete for the division, let alone a wild card slot this upcoming season. The Los Angeles Chargers have also improved their team this offseason as well, so with everyone else in the division making the necessary strides towards success in the near future, Broncos fans could be waiting awhile until their next division title emerges.
Photo Credit Associated Press
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