The preseason is done, the rosters have been filled and the NFL is ready to embark on a new season. It all gets started Thursday night as the Carolina Panthers pay a visit to the Mile High city to take on the Denver Broncos in a rematch of Super Bowl 50. Now that the biggest question of the off-season has been answered, we take a look at what to expect for the Denver Broncos in 2016.
What to Expect for the Denver Broncos in 2016
For much of the off-season, the biggest question mark in Dove Valley was who would be the starting quarterback for the defending champions? Trevor Siemian has been deemed the heir apparent to Peyton Manning and is ready to lead the Broncos on their quest for another Lombardi. Throughout training camp Siemian looked calm, cool and collected whenever under center. It was his poise and confidence in Gary Kubiak‘s system that set him apart from fellow competitors, Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch. This confidence no doubt came from last year.
As a rookie Siemian had the honor of watching one of the all time greats in Manning. Though it was a very sub-par year for the future hall of famer, he still displayed his ability to prepare week in and week out at an elite level. Something that surely made a big impression on the Broncos new offensive leader. With a quiet ora about him, Siemian stepped into camp and did his job. He made smart reads, threw precise passes and made very few major mistakes. He won over the players, the coaches and the fans with his ability to run the offense.
Though Lynch is undoubtedly the future of this organization, this year at least the job is Siemian’s to lose. Broncos country should take comfort in Kubiak’ s selection, he will do them proud.
Offense Looks to Improve
The Broncos offense was just good enough last year. They were not great by any means, in fact let’s be honest, the defense carried this team. Dropped passes, turnovers and a nonexistent run game were the norm last year for what was supposed to be a high octane unit. Although it was a brand new offense, the play-makers were all in place. Still they under achieved.
Manning had arguably his worst season as a pro, eventually being benched in favor of Brock Osweiller. Demaryius Thomas dropped so many passes it became a surprise when he actually caught one. C.J. Anderson failed to produce so much so that Ronnie Hillman became the teams go-to-guy in the run game. It was a season of disappointment for the entire offensive unit.
This year, with a new quarterback under center, the other play-makers will need to improve and increase their production. That mindset was in each and every players head as they prepared for the upcoming campaign. Anderson entered camp in much better shape than the previous year and it showed as he broke off some big runs in pre-season. Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and several other receivers made big catches. The offensive line even played well despite it having two new players at the tackle positions.
It is the second year for many in Kubiak’ s offense, so there will no doubt be a clearer understanding of how each play is to be ran. Receivers will run more precise routes and the running backs will know exactly when and where to find those cut back lanes. Even the quarterback play will be improved due to Siemian’s experience in this system.
The Broncos offense appears ready to produce at a high level this year. Anderson and Sanders have both expressed their desire to improve and not rely on the defense. The players have also expressed how much they are behind Siemian and how he makes the players want to play for him. If this offense can get a rhythm going it could very well lead this team on another Super Bowl run.
Defense Will be Better
Last year the Broncos defense played at an elite level from week one all the way through the playoffs. It was as dominant a unit as has been seen in many years. With big time players like Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr and T.J. Ward, the defense carried this team all the way to a Super Bowl championship.
While last year was great, there were plenty of mistakes and penalties that could have been eliminated. This year, the second in Wade Phillips defensive scheme, should be a much improved year. Ward and fellow safety Darian Stewart have stated that they want to eliminate the errors from last year including all those silly personal foul calls.
The linebacking corps will be more of a threat this year with players like Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett accompanying Miller. Ray changed up his diet in the off-season and worked extra hard to prepare for his sophomore campaign. He came into camp lean and mean and eager to become an All Pro. Barrett looks to solidify the depth at the outside linebacker role, allowing for very little drop off in production between the starters and the second string.
Brandon Marshall became a standout at inside linebacker last season leading the Broncos in tackles. That productivity combined with his work effort was rewarded with a new contract. Zaire Anderson, Todd Davis and Corey Nelson will compliment Marshall nicely on the inside making it difficult for opposing teams to beat the front seven.
Depth has also been added in the defensive backfield with the addition of safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks. These two lanky rookies can play with the best of them. They have excellent coverage abilities and are not afraid to make the big hit. Look for these two to make immediate impacts when inserted into the line-up.
This defensive unit, as scary as it sounds, can be even stronger and more dominant than last years team. With a year under their belts they will have a greater understanding of Phillips system. That knowledge will be huge and if they can eliminate the mistakes, this defense can be one of the best in NFL history. Easily capable of carrying the team to another title.
With all the pieces in place and a year of experience in both the offensive and defensive schemes, expect nothing but improvement from this team. They will be tough to deal with on both sides of the ball, making them the favorite to win the AFC West for a sixth straight year. Once the playoffs hit it’s anybody’s game and this Broncos team will be fully capable of winning a second straight Lombardi. It will be a fun season to watch for the fans in Broncos Country.