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The Broncos enter the 2013 season as the favorite of many to win the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker were a lethal combination in the passing game last season and the addition of Wes Welker could make their ariel assault almost unstoppable this season. Losing Elvis Dumervil will hurt their defense, but adding Louis Vasquez could be key to keeping Manning upright to connect with his plethora of targets. The Broncos have a Super Bowl offense, but it is up to Von Miller and company to ensure that the Broncos defense plays well enough for the Broncos to end their season at Met Life Stadium in The Super Bowl.
After the end of a difficult and frustrating run, the Broncos decided to cut ties with coach Josh McDaniels. Although the Denver Broncos featured an explosive passing attack, the end of game results and personnel decisions left much to be desired. After the season, the Broncos hired the general of their all-time best passing attack to fix the team. Legend John Elway was brought in as executive vice president of football operations. Elway brought in former Carolina Panthers coach John Fox to turn around the team’s fortunes. Fox’s presence as a defensive-minded coach is much needed since the Broncos have ranked among the worst defenses in the league over the last several years. Injuries also took their toll which partially explains the disappointing finish for the team. Starting left tackle Ryan Clady and 2009 sack leader Elvis Dumervil both went down before the season even started. Kyle Orton, Erick Decker, Knoswhon Moreno and others all missed time throughout the course of the year.
Kyle Orton enjoyed one of the best campaigns of his career in 2010 under the tutelage of Josh McDaniels. Orton threw for over 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns, guiding the Denver passing attack to 7th best in the league. Look for those numbers to come down a lot. John Fox preaches winning games by controlling time of possession and playing staunch defense. This means the Denver offense will be much more conservative than the run and gun days of the old regime. The battle for the back up spot is one of the biggest storylines of the preseason with former first round picks Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow competing. The acquisitions of both players were very controversial. Quinn was acquired for a couple of draft picks and last year’s breakout player, running back Peyton Hillis. Tebow was selected in the first round by McDaniels when it was debated by draft pundits whether he should even be drafted at all. At running back Knowshon Moreno is the likely starter despite injury problems last year. Veteran Willis McGahee was brought over from Baltimore to provide insurance and a more powerful complement to Moreno. Brandon Lloyd was a fantasy darling last season totaling over 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns. Eddie Royal was productive after returning to his slot-receiver role and is a very nice threat in the return game. Second-year receiver Eric Decker had his rookie season marred by injury, but if he can stay healthy he could be poised to have a good year. Tight end is a bit of a weak spot with the starting position up in the air. Daniel Fells was signed over from St. Louis after catching 40 balls with the Rams in 2010. Other candidates include Dante Rosario and Dan Gronkowski, but each has very limited upside. The team hopes the return of Ryan Clady will provide a boost to a weak offensive line that protected the quarterback pretty well, but struggled to open up running lanes.
Although the Denver defense enjoys one of the league’s best homefield advantages with the thin air at Mile High Stadium, the Broncos’ defense has finished close to the bottom the past 6 years. The problem has been a lack of consistency. The Broncos have employed 6 different defensive coordinators over that same time span. Analysts often give quarterbacks a bit of a pass if they have been forced to learn a new system each year. The same holds true for an entire defense if they are unable to build upon concepts each year and are forced to learn new terminology and alignments from different coaches. Denver hopes John Fox, a strong, defensive-minded coach, and new coordinator Dennis Allen can bring that stability. They started their time in Denver by switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3. The change allows sack master Elvis Dumervil, who is coming off a season-ending injury, to return to his more natural position of defensive end. The rest of the line is filled with potential that has not been lived up to with Robert Ayers, Derrick Harvey, Marcus Thomas, and Ryan McBean. Ty Warren from New England and Broderick Bunkley from Philadelphia were brought in to provide veteran leadership and instant production for a struggling defensive line. The linebackers in Denver could quietly be becoming one of the teams strengths. D.J. Williams has always been solid on the field and could flourish in the right system if he keeps his off-field problems and injuries to a minimum. Von Miller terrorized offenses in the Big 12 and was taken 4th overall. Miller is expected to be a huge part of the new defense right away. Joe Mays rounds out the linebackers as a decent option. Third round pick Nate Irving had a very productive career at North Carolina State and could be a good player down the road. Perennial All-pro Champ Bailey was given a four year extension during the off-season and returns as a starting cornerback. Andre Goodman occupies the cornerback slot opposite of Bailey. Playmaking safety Rahim Moore was taken in the second round and will be thrown into fire immediately at free safety. He will learn a lot from his partner, Brian Dawkins, who will man the strong safety position.
This year will most likely be a transitional year for the Denver Broncos. They have to face learning new systems on both sides of the ball that were very different than what they were operating the previous year, and this is sure to come with many bumps in the road, especially for a team that wasn’t very good to begin with. With that being said look for the defense to improve with John Fox calling the shots. The offense likely won’t be as explosive as last year, but they should be able to have moderate success. The Broncos could surprise some teams this year as John Fox will have them playing hard-nosed football. They may be a year away from competing for the top of the division.
After an unexpected 6-0 start last year, the Broncos came back down to earth, as they finished with a mediocre 9-7 record. This year presents a quarterback conundrum. Kyle Orton had the starting job last year. This year, the Broncos picked up Brady Quinn from the Browns and drafted Tim Tebow in the first round. Now there is somewhat of a logjam at the position. No one really knows who will start at the beginning of the season, although Orton is expected to start again.
LenDale White was picked up from the Titans to bolster their running back core that includes Justin Fargas, Correll Buckhalter, and Knowshon Moreno.
Elvis Dumervil is out for the season after leading the league in sacks last year with 17. That will be a huge blow. The old vets in Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins will highlight their secondary once again, but one has to wonder how many prime years they have left in them.
The Broncos will finish second in the division thanks to the directionless Chiefs and Raiders, but not much more. They will finish a dissapointing 6-10 in my opinion.
By Josh Delp of the Sports Fan Blog Network