The Denver Broncos season is over

A miss is as good as a mile - Just next to it is also over. There is no better way to sum up last year's Denver Broncos season. An outstanding season ended with a fiasco in the Super Bowl. Fortunately, there is someone in the front office who is familiar with this situation. As the Denver Broncos quarterback, General Manager John Elway lost each of his first 3 Super Bowl appearances (2 of them in a similarly shameful way), only to later hold the Vince Lombardi trophy in his hands - 2 in a row Years. All he has to do now is instill this comeback mentality in the current team.

One question at the beginning: Can a team that made it into the Super Bowl last season improve significantly? The opinion of many experts is: The Denver Broncos did it.

On the offensive, Peyton Manning's team left little room for improvement last year, so the focus of the off season was primarily on the defensive end on the field. John Elway and his team have done a lot to fill the defensive gaps. Deserved players were given up, capable staff were brought in, and young talents were drafted. Everyone in and around Denver agrees. There can only be one goal: To win the Super Bowl! Are the acquisitions made sufficient for the title? Have you learned your lessons from the disgrace in the SuperBowl? How does the return of the injured take place? This blog tries to answer these questions and gives an outlook on the 2014/15 season for the men from Colorado.

Offense

Last year, Peyton and his offensive entourage broke all records in the NFL. Although a certain regression is to be expected, you don't have to worry about the Broncos attack this season - only if you are not on the other side of the ball, of course.

Depth Chart Offensive

Peyton Manning, although already 38 years old, shows no signs of old age and is one of the best quarterbacks in the league this year. With him the title chances stand or fall in Colorado - an injury would be equated with the end of the Super Bowl hopes. Behind this is Brock Osweiler, namely a back-up, of which it is not yet known exactly whether he can be the starter of an NFL team in the future. Due to the depth in other positions, the first time in the John Fox era is the season with only 2 QBs (Zyc Dysert is in the Practice Squad). Manning is protected by an above-average offensive line. Ryan Clady and Louis Vasquez are among the best in their fields in their positions. Orlando Franklin, now on LG, and Manuel Ramirez are also above-average NFL players. Above all, the return of convalescent Ryan Clady should help the line to regain more stability - with a Peyton Manning per se making every O-line look a bit stronger. The versatility of the starters is another plus point, each of these players can switch to a different position if necessary. There is concern about the depth in this area: with Cornick, Schofield, Garland and Montgomery, who came from Washington, there are inexperienced or mediocre staff available. A long-term failure would therefore be difficult to absorb.

Someone who shouldn't get injured either is Demaryius Thomas. He has worked his way up to a top receiver in the NFL under Peyton Manning (over 1,400 yards and double-digit TD values ​​in the last two years speak for themselves) and leads the Receiving Corps. Already in the preseason you could see that Peyton continues to throw the ball in the direction of DT in tricky situations. Wes Welker, whose contract expires after the season, is still in the slot. His quality is undisputed, but his injuries are cause for concern. Wes has had three concussions in the past 10 months. According to the doctors, there is currently no end of career, but every further hit can change that dramatically. In the event of a failure, however, both newcomer Sanders and Andre "Bubba" Caldwell, who knows the system, can serve the position in the slot. Cody Latimer should also see some snaps in the slot due to his beefy stature.

In order to simulate the time after Wes Welker, the team from the NFL has now also got the opportunity. Wes Welker was banned from taking performance-enhancing substances for the first 4 games of the season. The punishment is unnecessary, of course, but Wes could use it to completely cure his concussion.

Emanuel Sanders was acquired to replace Eric Decker, who had migrated to the jets, but will interpret the role differently due to his speed and other physical attributes. With this year's second round pick Cody Latimer, the Broncos have a jewel (protection for a DT exit?) In the backhand. His physique and his sure catching hands, paired with good performances in the camp and the preseason have made him one of the winners of the offseason. Both the coaches and the fans have so far only heard positive things about the former Hoosier from Indiana. The corps is rounded off by Isaiah Burse. A failure of Jordan Norwood and a courageous performance in the last preseason game against the Cowboys (151 total yards) gave him a roster spot. It is mainly used for punt returns. The kick returns will largely be Bubba Caldwell's field of responsibility

After his breakthrough last year (almost 800 yards / 12 TDs) Julius Thomas will strive for similar values. Although he is a poor blocker, hardly anyone can fool the former basketball player when it comes to catching. In addition, due to its size, it is a popular Red Zone target for Peyton. Virgil Green and Jacob Temme stand behind as relatively complete substitutes.

You won't find any experience in the back area of ​​Denver. The new number 1 running back is called Montee Ball: It is entering its second season and is supposed to make you forget the Knowshon Moreno, who is no longer wanted. Ball is a stronger runner than Moreno, but still has problems with pass protection - something that a QB like Peyton doesn't like to see. Montee Ball also has yet to prove whether he can carry such a load of carries over the season. The first substitute will initially be Ronnie Hillman, who has played two seasons as the "old hand" among the RBs. C.J. Anderson and Juwan Thompson, who played splendidly in the preseason, round off this position.

The man to watch

Montee Ball

Can he carry the required workload over the season? Does he have his deficits in the passportProtection minimized? Are his fumble problems a thing of the past? Montee Ball has to prove that he can be a complete and above all reliable running back in the league. He doesn't have an experienced substitute behind him, so it's imperative that he works.

judgment

The offensive around Sheriff Peyton Manning remains the hobbyhorse of the Denver Broncos. Almost all positions are filled with high quality. The O-Line and the Receiving Corps belong to the crème de la crème in football, garnished with a Hall of Fame quarterback. Due to the difficult schedule, Manning will hardly repeat his fabulous values ​​from last season (5477 yards / 55TD / 10 INT). His strong preseason form, however, gives hope for another peak season. The offensive system also remains in Denver. Lots of short passes, lots of yards after catch by the receivers. However, Emmanuel Sander's arrival could also boost the horizontal play a bit. Small question marks still stand behind the running backs. Neither Montee Ball nor its opponents have earned their merits in the NFL so far. But here, too, the Peyton Manning factor plays an important role. At 241 carries, Knowshon Moreno looked at 6 or fewer men in the pits at 192. This place, which the defenders offer his teams out of respect for Peyton, makes the life of a running back immensely easier and makes even mediocre players look above average. This running game will be necessary to strike a better balance between passing and running.

Just like last season, the Broncos will regularly fill the scoreboards. This offensive will continue to bring sleepless nights to the opposing defenders. [5 balls are of course the maximum.]

Defense

Offense hui, defense ugh. That is the brief verdict of 2013/14. Only 5 teams allowed more passing yards than the Denver Broncos. 24.9 opposing points per game are also unworthy of a Super Bowl participant. This year everything should be different. You want to build on the defensive performance of the penultimate season. In 2012, the Broncos, with a fit Von Miller, were one of the strongest defense teams in the NFL. On paper, the chance of this is very promising this year. There are two basic arguments for this:

1. Return of key players such as Von Miller, D. Wolfe, C. Harris and R. Moore

2. Elimination of the weak points through a smart purchasing policy in the spring

Depth Chart Defense

The basic system remains the 4-3 defense, whereby the coaching staff has pointed out that you can act very variably defensively and adapt flexibly to the respective situations.

Those in charge in Denver speak of a depth in the defensive area that has not been seen in a long time. An indication of this is the dismissal of longtime starter Kevin Vickerson. Simple explanation: there just wasn't enough space in the roster. The defense is much tougher this year. Great things are expected in Denver, especially at Pass Rush. Both the starters D. Wolfe, D. Ware, Von Miller and the players in the second tier, namely Q. Smith, M. Jackson or L. McCray, know how to get to the quarterback. Especially the tandem DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller should scare some defensive rows. Terrance Knighton on the other hand plays rock solid on DT. Pot roast Not only does he have a big mouth, he has also developed into a defensive leader (his election as defensive captain alongside D.Ware is evidence of this) who played very well last year. In addition, S. Williams is another capable player.

The linebacker position is well occupied with the currently injured D. Trevathan (return planned for the 5th week), N. Irving and above all Von Miller. Danny Trevathan made the breakthrough last year, his replacement B.Marshall looked safe in the preseason, Nate Irving's quality as three down, however, is still under scrutiny. In subpackages, T.J. Stand in the square for Irving.

The star of the linebackers - and actually the entire defense - is Von Miller. Von Miller is one of the best individual defensive players in the NFL by talent, with almost no gaps in his game. As a reminder: In 2012 he finished the season in the top 5 in the following categories: sacks (18.5), quarterback knockdowns (27), quarterback hurries (12), tackles for a loss (28), run stuffs (13) and forced fumbles ( 6). When he was voted Defensive Player Often the Year, all he had to do was choose J.J. Give watts beaten. The arrival of DeMarcus Ware should drive the nonsense out of his head, especially outside the field.

The secondary was probably the biggest weak point of the past season. After all, they gave away 1,318 more passing yards than the class leader from Seattle. But adjustments have also been made in this area. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Talib fits better into the system) is now playing in New York, the legend Champ Bailey (found too old) unfortunately also had to leave the team. The newcomers T.J. In return, Ward and A. Talib bring physique and toughness that was missed last year. The return of the underrated C.Harris and R.Moore should give the defensive backfield additional security. The replacement is mostly young and talented people. First round pick Bradley Roby has overcome his initial problems in camp and can be left on the field without any problems. Kayvon Webster has matured a year and the long-term injured Q. Carter played formidably in the preseason. The veterans Bruton and Bolden complete this position group.

The man to watch

From Miller

Is he 100% fit again? Can he repeat what he did in the years before the injury? Are his problems outside the field a thing of the past? Can DeMarcus Ware take him under his wing and make him even better? Some people seem to have forgotten what a horny NFL player Von Miller is. A healthy Von Miller is a beast in the field that hardly anyone can stop. He has a multifaceted arsenal of skills - such a complete defensive player is rarely found in the NFL.

But Denver also needs such a player so that the defense can find itself in the extended tip. To do this, Von Miller has to stay fit and avoid turbulence outside the field.

judgment

John Elway and his men did an outstanding job this spring to eradicate the weaknesses of the past. With Ware, Talib and Ward came high-quality players who will look good on the defensive. The return of the convalescents does the rest to raise this defense to a new level. There is a big question mark about the health and fitness of the central players. Ware is not a young bungee and already struggled with injury concerns with the cowboys last year. However, his leadership qualities and role model function are already an asset to the troops. Talib is also prone to injury. Wolfe, Von Miller and Harris are returning from serious injuries and have yet to show whether they can return to their previous levels of performance. Despite the question marks, nobody doubts that Denver's defense will be much better in shape this season and will also win some games without an outstanding offensive.

Coaching staff

Head Coach John Fox

John Fox, a former defensive coordinator and longtime coach for the Carolina Panthers, is entering his fourth season as head coach. In the last 3 years his team won the AFC West (in the first year this was achieved with the freak Tim Tebow as QB). He enjoys greater recognition among NFL colleagues and those in charge than in the media. He was recently voted the 10th best coach in the league by current and past executives. Coach Fox is a good trainer who always aligns his system to the strengths and weaknesses of the existing staff. On the other hand, he also has some unmistakable weaknesses that distinguish him from a really great coach. He's an old school trainer who doesn't like taking risks and therefore acts conservatively. This fearful behavior was seen, for example, in the playoff-off against the Ravens 2 years ago. There were some very risk-averse moves in the game, one of which was as follows: The game is a draw, 31 seconds, 2 timeouts, the ball on its own 20-yard line -> Fox decides not to play it out. The end is known. John Fox didn't lose the game, but maybe he could have won it with a little more aggressiveness. In this area, however, Fox improved a bit last year, the moves on 3rd downs have become a bit more aggressive. Furthermore, his Challenge selection last year was very unfortunate. Only 1 out of 8 of the reviews he initiated was won. In the future, he will have to show a better eye again or seek advice from his employees.

At the Super Bowl, the game plan of Coach Fox and his staff went badly in the pants. In the 2 weeks of preparation time it was not possible to adjust the team accurately to the opponent and the conditions. They were neither prepared for the volume in the stadium nor for the tough pace of the Seahawks defense. The trainer has to be chalked up against this fact. It remains to be seen in the near future whether he has drawn the correct conclusions from this.

Jack Del Rio is the Defense Coordinator in Denver. The former Jaguars head coach has 17 seasons of experience under his belt and is one of the better DCs in the league, with his defenders ranked in the NFL's top 6 for yards allowed per game in 9 of the 16 seasons he has spent as positional coach , Defensive Coordinator or Head Coach was responsible. His defensive plan for this year: elitist pass rush, disruptive coverage, very physical defensive behavior.

In the position of offensive coordinator, Peyt acts ... um ... Adam Gase. The Denver Broncos set all records in their first year under his wing. How much of this is due to Adam Gase and how much to Peyton Manning is difficult to assess. However, it shows that Adam Gase is smart enough to align his offensive system completely with the strengths of a Peyton Manning and to involve him intensively in the decision-making process. This year will probably apply again: You know what will come of Peyton and the offensive, you will rarely be able to prevent it.

judgment

The Denver Broncos coaching staff is good - not very good. John Fox is a conservative trainer, but he is ready to adjust his system to the existing staff. The coordinators Gase and above all Del Rio understand their subject. The fact that both were already in talks for head coach positions for other teams speaks for their quality. The collective has proven that they can learn from their mistakes and that it is not a shame to tackle changes. The in-game management that was too conservative was designed to be more aggressive, although only moderately.Lessons learned from the 2012/13 season and led the team to the Super Bowl. This season will have to show whether one could identify and remove the mistakes from the failure there.

Overall judgment

On paper, the Denver Broncos look like a near-perfect team. Both offensive and defensive are ideally at the top of the league. As long as PFM is the quarterback, you don't have to worry about the attack anyway. He also has enough powerful weapons on the team. A quantum leap is also expected defensively in Denver. Weak points were eliminated with newcomers and returnees. The Broncos have a top defense again this year - provided (!!!) all central players stay fit and get by without suspensions. The coaching team is good. However, it has yet to prove whether it has learned its lessons from its recent past mistakes. Denver's team is again one of the top favorites for the title this year.

Lessons of the Preseason

During the preseason snaps, Peyton Manning and his offense picked up where they left off last season (or rather before the Super Bowl). 43 of 54 pass attempts Peyton was able to bring to the man for 423 yards (3 TD, 1 INT), Demaryius Thomas is already in early form and newcomer Emannuel Sanders impressed powerfully in his only preseason game. 128 yards and 2 TD, including a strong 67 yard TD, suggest he is ready to make Eric Decker forget. Peyton Manning never had a rocket arm and his age does the rest, but you could already see what opportunities an Emmanuel Sanders brings to Mile High. Due to its incredible speed it can be used as a deep threat Act in the field and pull the defense further apart.

On the defense side, too, you could see a lot that indicates a good season. 9.2 points allowed per game and 4.2 yards per move were top marks in the league in preparation. Something that immediately caught your eye is the Broncos defense's new attitude. Whether the first, second or third row was on the field, they all had one thing in common: hardness. The defense played very physically, the pass rush looked very promising. First and foremost, Demarcus Ware looked very fresh, mobile and above all fit during the time used. Ware cited the reason for this that he had lost a few pounds during the summer and was therefore able to move better in the field again. Von Miller only came on the field for one series, but that can still be seen as a good signal for week 1.

All in all, the Broncos played a promising preparation: Strengths have remained, weaknesses seem to have been eradicated. You just have to carry it over into the season, but one thing is certain: Denver is ready for week 1.

Outlook and forecast

With the NFC West, the division was assigned the most difficult and strongest group possible. However, you only have to compete away from the Seattle Seahawks. San Francisco and Arizona come into the domestic Sports Authority Field at Mile High. But you can travel to the Patriots again and will also be present at the Bengals from Cincinnati and the St. Louis Rams abroad. It is an extremely difficult game plan overall, but if Denver - as the saying goes - can bring its horsepower onto the road, then you don't have to fear any opponents. In your own division, the San Diego Chargers, against whom you generally find it difficult to meet, should be the greatest danger. Normally, however, a clear division title can be expected from the Broncos.

Schedule RS 2014

In the AFC everything boils down to a duel with the also much improved New England Patriots. The easier program and the home game against Denver could tip the scales in the fight for the AFC top spot in the direction of New England.

Still, the Denver Broncos are team to beat in the AFC. With the Seahawks, Packers or Saints, to name just a few, a strong opponent would be waiting for the Broncos in the event of another Super Bowl entry anyway.

Why can you be optimistic?

- Monstrous offense

- Outstanding quarterback

- Fixed weak points on the defensive

- Depth in the D-Line

- Return of key players

- Experienced coach

- SuperBowl defeat as an incentive

- Excellent team on paper

- Smart general manager

Why should one worry?

- Difficult game plan

- Injury question mark

- Insufficient depth on the O-Line positions

- NFC opponents in the SuperBowl

Personal prognosis at the end

To hell with constant humility. With a 13 to 3 record you get the home advantage in the AFC, beat the Pats in the championship game there - and Peyton finally gets his long-awaited and well-deserved second ring. [In the NFC, by the way, I'm guessing the New Orleans Saints, who with a home advantage will be very difficult to beat in the playoffs.]