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Know Your Enemy: Denver Broncos

It’s baaaaaackk. Know Your Enemy 2019 is upon us. The NFC North plays the NFC East and the AFC West this season.  We can talk about Chucky Jon Gruden and his turkey hole (I hate that guy). John’s younger brother Jay is on the slate too with the Redskins. We will gape in awe of the hype train that is Patrick Mahomes and his kid/wife beating side kick Tyreek Hill. Herp Derp himself Philip Rivers with his 86 kids and the Chargers vaunted defense will be on the schedule. Vic Fangio teaming with Von Miller to take on the North one last time with Joe “Unibrow” Flacco. How bout dem Cowboys? The Boys have Dak and Zeke and Coop with former Lion Kellen Moore calling plays and Rod Marinelli running the D. Jim Schwartz being carried off the field after beating Detroit again with a “healthy” and rich Carson Wentz in 2019. Finally, more Herp Derp with Eli Manning’s last hurrah and the train wreck that is the New York Football Giants. Can’t wait!!

Let’s start with Horse Face Elway and the Denver Broncos.

Denver Broncos

Denver went 6-10 in 2018 and fired their head coach Vance “Didn’t Stand a Chance” Joseph. Case Keenum was their QB and didn’t quite have the success he did in 2017 with the embarrassment of riches in Minnesota. Keenum notched a 81 QB rating and the Broncos offense struggled at only 20.6 PPG (24th). The defense was 13th in PPG and forced 28 turnovers but gave up just enough to lose 10 games. They were 3-5 at home and 3-5 on the road in 2018.

Strengths

Pass Rush

Vic Fangio become head coach and will run the defense with DC Ed Donatell. Von Miller is a beast and Bradley Chubb is a high pick first round pick from 2018 with loads of potential in year two. Derek Wolfe is a good player at Defense End.  Adam Gotstis is a decent 2nd round pick at the other defensive end spot. Shaq Barrett and Shane Ray are gone which hurts depth though.

Run Game

Phillip Lindsay had a good rookie season and is the workhorse for the Broncos. Lindsay had 1,037 yards at 5.4 YPC and 9 TDS as an undrafted rookie. Royce Freeman and Devonate Booker are solid young backups with talent and potential as mid-round picks from 2018 and 2017. Denver should be able to run the ball with those three players.

The Broncos revamped their offensive line with former Dolphin Ju’wuan James as a big RT signing in free agency. Dalton Risner was selected to be RG in the 2nd round. Ron Leary is a solid left guard and Garret Bolles is developing at left tackle after being selected in Round 1 in 2017. Connor McGovern takes over for Matt Paradisis at center.

Revamped Secondary

The Broncos added to their secondary in free agency with Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan (former Bear nickel back). Chris Harris got paid more and is a very good CB too. Justin Simmons, Willie Parks and Su’a Cravens (former Redskin 2nd round pick who quite football) is a young safety group with potential. This secondary can have success with Denver’s pass rush led by Miller, Wolfe and Chubb but could be beat at the safety spot. The depth is lacking with unproven third rounds pick in Yiadom and Langley. Kareem Jackson is up there in age but had success with Houston last year.

Weaknesses

Weapons

Denver added the lesser Iowa TE Noah Fant in Round 1 after trading down with the Steelers. Emmanuel Sanders (868 yards and 4 TDs) was injured and is getting older. Former 2nd round pick Courtland Sutton (704 yards and 4 TDs) must step up this season for the Broncos. DeSean Hamilton (243 yards and 2 TDs) is their slot WR. Denver has some talent but this group can be covered by the North DBs and lacks depth.

QB

The Broncos traded for Joe Flacco (4th rounder) and took Drew Lock in Round 2 in the draft. The bar was set low by Case Keenum in 2018 though and Keenum got shipped to Washington for peanuts. We’ll see if Unibrow Joe can pull a rabbit out of his butt like in the playoffs of the 2012 season. Pass protection from the revamped offensive line will be the key to protecting slow Flacco.

Run D

Denver allowed 4.5 YPC for 17th in the league. Derek Shelby is the nose tackle and Dre Mont Jones was drafted in Round 3. The Broncos have issues at ILB with Brandon Marshall both no longer on the inside for Denver. Josey Jewell and Todd Davis will need to step up their game to help Denver stop the run.

Schedule

The Broncos host the Bears in Week 2 and the Lions in Week 16. That Mile High Air will surely be a focus of Woude when the Bears lose to them. Fangio against his former team should be fun to see. Denver travels to Green Bay in Week 3 and Minnesota in Week 11.

The Broncos were weaker in 2018 and should have QB/weapon problems. They don’t have much depth and Fangio will need to work some magic to get a top 5 defense like he had in Chicago. The Broncos are dangerous though due to their pass rush and run game. John Elway won’t be helicoptering in the Super Bowl but Denver could beat two North teams.