There is a saying around the NFL that the difference between a 6-10 or a 7-9 season vs. a 10-6 or 9-7 season is just a few plays that either go your way, or simply do not. For the 2019 Denver Broncos, those plays definitely did not go their way. A difference of a single play in a handful of games could have turned that 7-9 season into an 11-5 season, and I would be writing about the Broncos chances in the playoffs, instead of a season recap. But that’s the NFL.
2019 Denver Broncos Season Review and a Look at the Future
Although a 7-9 season is not ideal, I cannot remember a losing season ending on such a positive note. Once Drew Lock took over the reigns, he led the Broncos to a 4-1 record, with the lone loss coming in a horrible weather game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Broncos Country finally has something to look forward to. A young nucleus on offense surrounded by Lock, Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Dalton Risner, and Phillip Lindsay, paired with a top defense in the NFL, makes for an exciting future.
The season started out with high expectations with Joe Flacco leading the way, but quickly his play (and health) diminished, and the Broncos got off to a 2-6 start. Then Brandon Allen took over and continued the Broncos losing ways with a 1-2 record. Only once the Broncos handed the quarterback keys to Drew Lock, did we see something different out of this offense. Finally, an offense that didn’t remind fans of the ground-and-pound 1990 type offenses. Lock spread the ball around to different targets, stretched the field, made exciting plays with his legs and arms by extending plays, and most importantly, scored points.
Before Lock took over the starting quarterback position, the Broncos were on a franchise worse, 20 game streak without scoring 25 points. In today’s NFL, that statistic is simply embarrassing. In Drew Lock’s 5 starts, he scored 25+ twice. Of course, this is a small sample size, but there is definitely reason to be encouraged.
Interestingly enough, there are more questions regarding the defense entering the off-season. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will be back, and lead the pass rush, but there are several key players who the Broncos must focus on re-signing if they want to maintain a top defense.
First is the issue of Chris Harris Jr. His play this year was not his best, but he was often tasked with covering the opposing team’s best wide-receiver. He is still a top-tier cornerback in the NFL and his contract is expired. He has voiced his displeasure with the direction of the team in the past, but he is encouraged by Drew Lock’s play, and discussed how it may be a significant pulling factor to keep him in Denver.
The other Harris, Shelby Harris also has his contract expiring. He made the game winning play in week-17 to beat the Raiders, but he has done more than just that this year. He is a force on the defensive line, in both the run and pass game. As the saying goes, “football is a game of inches”, and those inches are won often at the line-of-scrimmage, where Harris has dominated for the past couple years. John Elway must find a way to keep him on the roster long-term.
And now onto the probable MVP of the Broncos this year, Justin Simmons. Simmons has solidified himself as one of the top safeties in the NFL, whether Pro-Bowl voters agree or not. He anchored this defense and was the main reason that the Bronco defense was among the top of the league, despite several injuries. Simmons will command a handsome payday, and Elway may have to give him one to keep him around. He voiced his desire to stay in Denver, so a hometown discount may be a possibility, but Simmons deserves a big payday, and hopefully the Broncos reward him with one.
If the Broncos are able to sign these players on defense, draft a couple offensive linemen, draft a wide-receiver (in an incredibly talented class), and address some depth on both sides of the ball in the off-season, then this time next year I should be writing about the Broncos first playoff opponent.
Broncos Country has suffered long enough in the post-Manning era, it is time to return to relevance and I believe we have. The 2019 Denver Broncos will be the last Broncos team in a long-time to miss the playoffs. Book it.
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