Since Super Bowl 50, the Broncos have gone three straight seasons without making the playoffs. It’s safe to say they might make it four seasons in 2019.
Since 2016, there have been 20 head coaching hires and only seven of those head coaches lead their teams to the playoffs. Not only will Denver have a first-time head coach Vic Fangio this year, but also a first-time play caller on offense, as well, in Rich Scangarello.
This seems like the same situation the Broncos had in 2017 with Vance Joseph and Joe Woods. That year, they were breaking in a new head coach and a new defensive coordinator.
The Broncos are expected to play against a total of 10 Pro Bowl quarterbacks this season, which puts a lot of pressure on this hopeful Denver defense under Fangio. The most-exciting part of this team is the pass-rushing duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, but where is the depth behind those two? If the Broncos are going to make the playoffs, they better be able to get after the quarterbacks in the division that are able to be MVP candidates every season.
Don’t forget that the middle linebacker position is a strength for Fangio, but the Broncos haven’t been strong in the area of the field since the combination of Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan in 2015. And stopping the run, which relies heavily on this position playing well, has been a trouble spot for the Broncos in recent years.
The offense remains a big question mark this season with Joe Flacco leading the way. Flacco’s last great season was in 2014 under offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak in which he threw for a career-high 27 touchdowns. The 6-foot-6 quarterback also has yet to see live game action since injuring his hip midway through last season that would lead to Lamar Jackson finishing the season as a rookie.
How is the offensive line going to play together? Garett Bolles has yet to play like a first-round draft pick, Connor McGovern has had issues snapping the ball to Flacco during the first week of training camp and Ronald Leary is coming off a torn Achilles in 2018. There have also been rumblings that second-round pick Dalton Risner has picked up the playbook faster than any of the other offensive lineman thus far.
The top two offensive weapons for the Denver offense last season are coming off season-ending injuries last season in Emmanuel Sanders and Phillip Lindsay. These are players that the Broncos have to lean on for this offense to be successful if they want to be playing in late January.
We have yet to see a No. 2 wide receiver emerge out of the pack so far in camp. Courtland Sutton’s numbers went down in the final four games last season when Sanders went down with an Achilles injury. Sutton had only 14 receptions for 146 yards and only one touchdown finishing out the season.
DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick will be fighting for that number two spot, as well.
The Broncos are still trying to find production from their tight ends since Julius Thomas left after having 24 touchdowns in two seasons. Noah Fant could be the answer, but not in his rookie season.
Since 2000, first-round tight ends are averaging only 336.5 yards per season and 2.36 touchdowns. Joe Flacco does like throwing to tight ends, but not rookie tight ends. Flacco has never had a rookie tight end go for more than 300 yards in that first season and only one caught more than 30 passes.
This Broncos team has a ceiling of an 8-8 record in 2019; they simply have too many questions to answer. But the 2020 season will be one for Broncos fans to be excited for; that’s when playoff talk will make more sense.