The Broncos brought in 2017 playoff hero Case Keenum to take over at quarterback. How much success will he bring to the mile-high city?
After a disappointing season in which they finished just 5-11 (following a 3-1 start), the Denver Broncos are hoping to return to the 2012-15 form that saw the team accumulate four straight seasons of 12 wins or more.
Last season was filled with questions surrounding the quarterback position. First it was Trevor Siemian, then it was Brock Osweiler, and finally, 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch got his opportunity to start. None of the three proved to be a suitable option under center for Denver. Consequently, following the start of free agency, the team decided to sign a proven veteran in Case Keenum (two-year/$36 million) to fill their need.
Keenum joins a Broncos offense that already includes the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and second-round pick Courtland Sutton at receiver, as well as Devontae Booker and promising third-round pick Royce Freeman at running back. Denver also returns a healthy offensive line from a year ago (injuries plagued them throughout the 2017 season), and tight end Jake Butt (who missed all of 2017 with a torn ACL).
Doubt it! I dare you to watch this https://t.co/b4hS87Ynwo video and compare that to a b hasn’t done dilly.— josh gabaldon (@jgbroncos29) May 16, 2018
Keenum has the necessary weapons to compete offensively, and the Broncos’ defense should remain dominant (they ranked third in the NFL in total yardage allowed in 2017) with the addition of first-round pick Bradley Chubb. So, assuming they remain relatively health, how much success will they enjoy in 2018?
Why They’ll Have Success
With the selection of Sutton — a player many believed should have gone in the first round — with the 40th overall pick, Denver could very well have one of the better receiving cores in the NFL entering 2018. The combination of Sutton, Thomas, Sanders, and Butt could prove to be lethal for opposing defenses. Additionally, Keenum recently led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship game after taking over for the injured Sam Bradford in week 2.
On the defensive side, the Broncos added another dominant pass-rusher in Bradley Chubb to accompany Von Miller. Both possess superb power, strength, and speed, as well as a knack for getting after the quarterback. Although they will draw some attention, the duo should have no problem racking up sacks by the week, and constantly creating havoc for their oppositions. Furthermore, while the team lost Aqib Talib to the Rams in free agency, Denver returns Chris Harris, Bradley Roby, Darian Stewart, and Justin Simmons as members of their “no-fly zone.” They also signed former second-round pick and ex-Redskins safety Sua Cravens to bolster their secondary.
The Broncos’ defensive line just got a lot scarier with Bradley Chubb heading to Denver. pic.twitter.com/0GXEJ0VaF7— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 27, 2018
Should the offense and defense come together as hoped, the Broncos will undoubtedly have success. They have the talent on paper — they just need the results.
What Could Hinder That Success
Simply: injuries, particularly to the offensive line. Ever since the team’s Super Bowl victory in the 2015-16 season, Denver’s offensive front has endured two consecutive injury-filled seasons, resulting in a combined record of 14-18. The inability to consistently keep the same lineup along the offensive line has proved to be disastrous, as the Broncos ranked 30th in the NFL in sacks allowed in 2017 (52), and 21st in 2016 (40).
With two young running backs in Booker and Freeman heading the depth chart, the Broncos will surely need a healthy offensive line should they wish to develop into full-time starters. Furthermore, it will definitely be in Denver’s best interest to protect Keenum at all costs, as he’s coming off a year where he wasn’t pressured a lot (Minnesota allowed the fourth-fewest sacks in 2017 with just 27).
Barring any significant injuries, Denver will find success this upcoming season. They have a servicable quarterback, a talented trio at receiver, a running back loaded with potential in Freeman, and they still possess that elite defense. I expect the Broncos to reach 10, potentially 11 wins, and contend for their 16th NFC West title in franchise history in 2018.
Record Prediction: 10-6
Edited by Emily Berman.
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