Caution: This is what happens when you give one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time the keys to an offense that includes two Pro Bowl wide receivers, a Pro Bowl tight end, and a should-be Pro Bowl running back.
Warning: This is a dangerous weapon, one that few, if any, can defend against.
The scary part? We’ve only scratched the surface of what is the Greatest Show on Grass, or what I’d like to label them as — the Deepest Arsenal in football.
I know John Elway set out to build a juggernaut around newly-signed free agent quarterback Peyton Manning in March 2012, but I’m sure even he would tell you the 2013 Bronco offense goes beyond even his best fantasy.
Not only does Manning come equipped with three outstanding wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker, the four-time MVP — soon to be five-time MVP — is riding high with a budding stars Julius Thomas and Knowshon Moreno, both of whom the Broncos’ offense has depended highly on this season and will hopefully get to depend on for years to come.
That’s a hell of collection of young offensive talent, and we haven’t even discussed why it’s the deepest in football.
Manning’s top targets all have backups that could start on other teams.
You don’t think the Buccaneers, Raiders, Jets, or Dolphins would sign fourth-string Andre Caldwell tomorrow if he became a free agent?
I’d imagine the same goes for backup tight ends Jacob Tamme and Virgil Green, who, similar to Caldwell, have seen limited action this year, but have been as valuable to the offense as any other player. While other teams watch tape of these respective assets and wonder how they can break them away from Denver in the off-season, Elway and the Broncos management have kept them in town for a reason — depth wins in the NFL.
Both Tamme and Green, along with Caldwell last season, have been subject of not making the Broncos 53 man roster at various points of the Peyton Manning era. And, in the moment, it seemed feasible why the team would part ways with talent that wasn’t seeing the field.
However, credit goes to Elway, as well as offensive coordinator Adam Gase, for keeping such a deep pool of talent and utilizing it at an historic rate.
I’d be foolish to forget that Elway also built depth at the running back position, fearing that Moreno wouldn’t be enough to carry the load.
He used a third round pick on Ronnie Hillman, who spent most of the 2013 season in the doghouse, last year and then went out and got Wisconsin’s all-time rushing leader Montee Ball in the second round in April’s draft.
The Broncos wouldn’t be where they are today — heading to Super Bowl 48 — without Ball’s contributions. He’s developed into a consistent rusher and, more importantly, a dependable pass blocker.
Because of this transition, Denver hosts the best two-headed monster in the entire league, along with their bevy of passing weapons.
The weapon Elway helped construct is so powerful that former starting tight end Joel Dreesen was relegated to watching the games in street clothes.
Similarly, the young and dynamic CJ Anderson — another asset other teams around the league will begin to covet — has been watching from the sidelines, not involved for the most part this season.
And then there’s Trindon Holliday, the league’s fastest player and a home-run threat whenever he possess the ball. However, you would have been wrong to think the Broncos would have fan a few trick plays for him this season on offense. Fumbling problems and too much depth, have kept him in a very limited role of returning kicks.
What I see is a Broncos depth chart that features five wide receivers, four running backs and four tight ends that would be signed by just about any team in the league. Pretty incredible when you look at it from that perspective, but it’s true — the Broncos have equipped themselves with the deepest arsenal in football.
And everybody wants to try to diffuse this bomb. However, only Peyton Manning knows how.