Just two years after winning Super Bowl 50, the Denver Broncos now find themselves at the bottom of the pit in the AFC West. Is there anything that can be done to get back to where they were a couple years ago? The answer is yes, but it won’t happen overnight.
The Denver Broncos Action Plan to Win the AFC West
Ever since the Broncos dominated the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, the team has been on a steady decline. Negotiating contracts, trading players, the departure of Peyton Manning, and dealing with injuries like chronic pain have all played a factor in the Broncos end in the AFC West basement. As a matter of fact, things have been anything but easy for the then-defending champions who finished the 2017 NFL season winning only four games. This means that out of the 28 games the Denver Broncos have played in throughout the past two years, they’ve only won 10 of them — making it their first losing campaign since 2010.
Nevertheless, the AFC West has been anything but fearsome. The Kansas City Chiefs, for example, finished the season with a 5-6 record after starting the campaign 5-0. Although the Los Angeles Chargers finished strong after starting the season 0-4, they still missed the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders also struggled throughout 2017, finishing the campaign with a 6-10 record before acquiring head coach Jon Gruden.
So, how can the Broncos become a top contender in the AFC West? Here are two things they’ll have to improve on to make a comeback:
Commit to the Run Game
The backfield for the Denver Broncos has changed a lot since Super Bowl 50. With the release of running back C.J. Anderson, the Broncos now have to find someone else to cover his spot. This, however, is easier said than done. As of right now, third-year running back Devontae Booker appeared first in line for carries. Since he was limited to 79 carriers and 299 yards with just one touchdown last season, nobody knows if Booker can handle the workload.
But that shouldn’t discourage fans from taking this team seriously. Why? Well, for what it’s worth, the Minnesota Vikings finished the year with just 501 yards on the ground and still made a run for the playoffs. That was perhaps the main reason quarterback Case Keenum had so much success with the team before signing with the Broncos. If the Broncos can manage to find success on the ground, then they’ll be able to find success on both sides of the ball — as their defensive players now have a chance to catch their breath.
Booker isn’t the only running back the team can depend on. Behind him is backup running back De’Angelo Henderson, and 2018 draft picks Royce Freeman (from Oregon) and David Williams (from Arkansas). With that said, ball control could be the key to bringing the Broncos back into contention.
Establish a Reliable Quarterback
Generally speaking, quarterbacks are not only supposed to be leaders, they’re also supposed to have 20/20 vision and keep an eye out for danger — like linebackers and defensive linemen. That’s the been the Broncos’ number one problem these past couple years. Despite the team turning the ball over 31 times in 2015, they still managed to win the Super Bowl — thanks to their defense. That season, both quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler combined for 24 turnovers in just 16 games.
Fast forward two years and head coach Vance Joseph has gone through three different quarterbacks in just one year. Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch combined for 19 touchdowns through the air and two more on the ground. This trio of quarterbacks, however, also threw 22 interceptions and lost four fumbles. Sieman, of course, has since parted ways with the Broncos and headed to Minnesota and Osweiler, is now with the Miami Dolphins. Lynch, on the other hand, is still hoping to make an impact for the Broncos.
For now, though, the Broncos are hoping they found their guy by acquiring quarterback Case Keenum. It’s true, Keenum’s bounced around the league before finding success with the Minnesota Vikings last year. During the regular season, he connected with 67 percent of his passes for 3,547 yards while turning the football only eight times in 15 games. Not bad, right? So, can the Broncos make a comeback? Yes, they can — but only time will tell.
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