The finish to the 2012 season was a bitter disappointment for Broncos Country. It was made worse by the fact Denver had a brilliant regular season and surpassed expectations across the board. The cautious hopes in the preseason were overhauled in the midst of a magical 11-game winning streak during the year. That fact made the playoff loss hurt even more.
But with some time to regroup many of the fans have come to realize the season was a big success. Furthermore, it may be the springboard needed for this team to accomplish something very special in the near future.
The 2012 season will always be remembered by the last second playoff loss and what could have been; no doubt about that. But most thought Denver would be lucky to finish the year with a winning record. There were serious questions about Peyton Manning’s health and constant reminders that the Broncos faced one of the toughest schedules in the league. My season preview predicted that Denver would win the division, but I had them doing it at 10-6 with the acknowledgement it would be extremely difficult.
In fact, it was easier than anyone dreamed. The rest of the division was pitiful and Denver dominated the regular season. Their 13-3 record was 7 games better than the second place Chargers if you count the tiebreaker, and the Chiefs and Raiders were two of the worst teams in the league. The defense blossomed under Jack Del Rio and the outstanding performance of their young playmakers. Peyton Manning and the offense was an absolute machine. The only thing that slowed them down in the playoffs was the bitter cold temperature and injuries in their backfield.
Make no mistake, what Denver accomplished last season was no fluke. Expect to see the Broncos back in the playoffs for as long as Manning wears the Orange & Blue. They will have several more chances at a deep playoff run over the next few years. This should make the fan base ecstatic about what lies ahead.
For the first time in a long time there are no questions surrounding the quarterback situation. Quarterback controversies and Manning Watch 2012 is in the past. The Broncos will be returning their defensive coordinator for a second straight season! That is certainly a change from the revolving door that has been in place for the better part of a decade. The rest of the division is undergoing organizational overhauls. Expect them to experience some growing pains for a while. The Denver offense and defense, both top 5 units in 2012, should be improved with another offseason in which John Elway can work his magic. The roster holes that were exposed in the playoffs will be filled in some fashion. The biggest story going into training camp will be how improved are they at positions of need?
This offseason will be a fun one. There will be plenty of player transactions and Denver is a big free agent destination after the franchise reinvented itself last year. They also had the most cap space available of any AFC West team when the offseason began which means there is plenty of room for improvement. Although Denver doesn’t have a pick until late in the first round of the draft it’s a great year to be looking for linemen, something the Broncos will definitely be doing. The biggest worry for the fans isn’t whether the team will be successful it’s how far can they go when the playoffs come around?
The sun has risen again in Broncos Country, and there are bright days ahead.