NFL Season Preview: Denver Broncos Continue Adding Championship Pieces
A year ago, the Denver Broncos appeared to be at an impasse; they had won a playoff game with one of the most unorthodox QBs of all time in Tim Tebow, despite not running much of a standard offense. The Broncos looked like a rudderless ship lost at sea. Then they crept into the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, gambling that his neck injuries and surgeries were behind him. The hope was that Manning would be able to return somewhat close to his normal form as the best QB in the NFL.
For the most part, 2012 came together in that manner. Manning was his normal surgical self (albeit with noticeable lack of arm strength at times, due to the nerve regeneration in his neck), and like several Manning-led teams in the past, the Broncos reeled off several consecutive wins on their way to a division title and a first-round playoff bye. However, like a few seasons in the past, Manning’s teams failed to achieve the goals that many felt that they were equipped to fulfill: win Super Bowls. Manning was partly the reason that the Broncos exited the playoffs early in 2013.
With an eye on building upon what they had achieved in 2012, the Broncos further stocked their somewhat shaky running game by drafting Montee Ball (Wisconsin), and acquired WR Wes Welker from the New England Patriots. The offense has the weapons to succeed, when considering that Manning already had Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker at his disposal. Manning depended more and more upon his patented line of scrimmage reads, and inside handoffs to his backs in order to maintain fluidity offensively. Wes Welker is accustomed to such a system, which can only help the offensive efficiency.
The main concerns with the Broncos was the fact that their defense – which had been in the Top 5 for most of the season – appeared to wear down at the end of last season; particularly the linebacking corps and the secondary. While the Broncos had a snafu (intentional?) with DE Elvis Dumervil, they managed to save cap space by allowing Dumervil to walk to the Baltimore Ravens. In order to address some of the deficiencies with their defense, the Broncos signed well-traveled MLB Stewart Bradley, DT Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton and CB Dominqiue Rodgers-Cromartie. The Broncos had several good pieces in place, so the addition of a little new blood and continuity defensively (despite Mike McCoy departing) should help the Broncos complete their quest for a return to the Super Bowl in 2013.
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