The demise of the Denver Broncos during the NFL playoffs last season was shell shocking to say the least. Not only did the offensively potent Broncos have a veteran quarterback in Peyton Manning who threw for 5,477 yards (career high) and 55 touchdown passes (broke Tom Brady’s all time best record of 50 touchdown passes in a single season), they also had a well rounded receiving corps that could find the holes in almost every secondary they went up against. Unfortunately for the surging Broncos, their dominant ways were all but disintegrated by a tenacious and physically imposing Seattle Seahawks defense that refused to let up from the opening kickoff until the final seconds of their blowout Super Bowl victory. Although the general consensus wasn’t necessarily completely in favor of the Broncos winning it all, no one, whether it was a well-versed analyst or a casual fan, could have predicted the Broncos unbearable meltdown that took place at Met Life Stadium. Despite the Broncos valiant efforts during the regular season, their athletic mystic all but dissipated once a fearless Seahawks team grounded it. However, with every devastating defeat comes the inevitable renewal of hope that things can be different during the subsequent season. Although it may be a daunting task to make it back to the Super Bowl, even for the resilient Broncos, their outlook for the future could be brighter than their dark past seems to indicate.
Although the Broncos were spectacular on offense and had a stout defensive line, their finicky secondary made Peyton Manning’s clutch passing abilities a vital necessity. For a team that gave up 254.4 yards per game (27th in the NFL), it made the Broncos 13-3 regular season record all the more triumphant and impressive. However, while it may be essential to have a reliable quarterback at the helm, it is also equally important to have an efficient defense that can shut down the oppositions passing attack. As soon as the free agency period commenced, the eager Broncos didn’t waste a moment in acquiring two defensive backs in T.J. Ward (Cleveland Browns) and Aqib Talib (New England Patriots).
Despite Ward’s short stature at 5’ 10”, his sure fire tackling abilities (112 tackles during 2013 season) and relentless physicality in going for crucial turnovers (5 forced fumbles throughout four year career) makes him a swift and ruthless defender who won’t give up yards easily.
While Aqib Talib may not have the explosive power and strength of Ward, his vigilance and patients as a talented corner offers the Broncos a vital defensive contributor who can make big plays at the perfect moments. Although Talib has had his fair share of durability issues throughout his career, when he is healthy, he is a great shutdown corner that can run with even the quickest receivers (14 passes deflected during the 2013 season).
Still, if the Broncos want to compete they’ll need to flesh out their offense with some young receiving talent that isn’t afraid to go up against old school defenses that will hit first and ask questions later. Although the loss of Eric Decker to the New York Jets wasn’t devastating, his solid hands and overall reliability made him a great number two wideout. While the Broncos may use their first round pick to acquire a young corner or swift defensive end, there are plenty of underrated receivers available who could acclimate well to the Broncos pass heavy offensive system. If the Broncos want to build a fearless receiving corps that can go toe to toe with the likes of the Seattle Seahawks, Davante Adams from Fresno State would be a great place to start. Not only did Adams start in every game during his two years of collegiate plays, his ball skills are indicative of a confident and do it all wide out that can make the crucial plays under immense pressure. Although Adams may not be the fastest receiver in the game, his ability to create yards after the catch would make him a versatile talent that could play in the slot or run vertical routes to challenge over confident defensive backs who would have trouble bringing down this insanely strong wide receiver.
When all is said and done, the Denver Broncos have emphatically addressed their defensive needs in free agency while leaving options open to acquire another defensive end or an under the radar wideout. Although free agent acquisitions and clever draft choices can’t guarantee another Super Bowl berth, it at least allows the Broncos to feel reassured that they can remain supremely competitive while having their eyes set on the ultimate prize. While the road to a repeat Super Bowl appearance is an arduous journey to say the least, the Broncos have made the decisions of a veteran organization that isn’t ready to bow out of championship contention just yet.