The Broncos entered the 2016 season as the defending Super Bowl champions. They finished the season by not even making the playoffs.
It’s not like Denver was bad. The Broncos still won nine games and finished tied (with the Eagles) for the league’s ninth best point differential. Still, failing to qualify for the postseason a year after winning it all is disappointing.
Where the Broncos go from here remains to be seen. Denver still have a lot of talented players on defense, but they lost one of the most important figures on their team: defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The Broncos also still have an unsettled quarterback position with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch competing for the starting job.
Maybe the defense stays good and one of the two quarterbacks steps up. It’s not hard to imagine the Broncos being a competitive team in 2017. But there’s a lot of uncertainty here, especially with first time head coach Vance Joseph leading the way. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Broncos took another step back this year.
The feeling here is this game looks more tough on paper than it could be in reality for the Eagles. I think it’s more likely the Broncos are just OK than it is they become elite again. Denver’s quarterbacks aren’t scaring anyone, even with the question marks Philadelphia has at corner. The Broncos’ defense should provide a nice challenge for Carson Wentz. At least he won’t have to deal with crowd noise, though.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the Broncos from our SB Nation associates over at Mile High Report.
Notable free agent additions:
Ronald Leary, Jamaal Charles, Menelik Watson, Domata Peko
Notable free agent departures:
DeMarcus Ware, Russell Okung, Sylvester Williams, Kayvon Webster
1) Traded RB Kapri Bibbs and a 2017 fifth-round pick (No. 177) to San Francisco in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round pick
2) Traded a 2017 fourth-round pick (No. 126) and a 2017 seventh-round pick (No. 252) to Cleveland for two 2017 fifth-round picks (No. 145, No. 175)
3) Traded a 2017 fifth-round pick (No. 175) and a seventh-round pick (No. 238) to Green Bay for a 2017 fifth-round pick (No. 172)
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
Garett Bolles, DeMarcus Walker, Carlos Henderson, & possibly Jake Butt & Isaiah McKenzie
Biggest offseason addition:
Mike McCoy. Ronald Leary is probably tops among players added, but McCoy, his offense, and his ability to help the QBs develop are arguably the single biggest change that carries the potential to heavily impact the quality of the Broncos' season.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
The quarterback battle, Siemian vs Lynch 2.0, will dominate the discussion with ease. The fanbase is already rather sharply divided, and it has the makings of a competitive camp battle at football's most important position. Somewhat greater experience and sample size will compete against greater physical talent & the pressure to start a former 1st round pick.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
Can Shane Ray adequately fulfill DeMarcus Ware's role across from Von Miller? There's evidence from 2016 that he can, and that he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl edge rusher. But he's got to actually do it. And if he can't, then a lopsided pass rush could tip a whole line of dominoes starting with more double and triple teams vs Miller, more time for QBs to throw, and greater demands put on the secondary. If the Broncos' historic pass defense is going to regress this season, failures across the line from Miller might be the most likely culprit.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
Matt Paradis: The Broncos' best offensive lineman is coming back from two offseason hip surgeries. Can he get healthy enough and strong enough to play well by the time the season begins? Jake Butt: The 5th round rookie TE has a ton of potential, but how quickly will he return from a torn ACL?