Broncos Curious Case of How to Fix Special Teams


So much of the talk has focused on the offense.

It’s focused on the defense.

Or how Peyton Manning will get along in a new, completely different offense with a new head coach and offensive coordinator. How will the Denver Broncos fix the offensive line? How will the Broncos defensive backs get along not playing 45 yards off receivers? Will Von Miller know what to do when he’s not asked to cover tight ends or slot receivers?

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I’m curious how new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak and special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis fix the rancid special teams. You can include John Elway in that as well. They already took the first step by hiring DeCamillis. He’s a major upgrade over Jeff Rodgers, who Take a Knee John Fox took with him to Chicago. Sorry, Bears fans.

One thing is for certain: Denver will not have two kickers on its roster. They will either stick with one or the other or find a guy who can do both. There is no sense in keeping two kickers on your roster. Most of the blame for that falls on Elway, but it will get fixed.

The most obvious move is to cut punter Britton Colquitt. Since he got his pay day, he’s been terrible. The Broncos should have just gone for it on fourth down. That would have been way more effective than Colquitt.

With the salary cap hit he takes, and how bad he’s been the last few years, Elway must cut the chord with his “punter.” When he does, Broncos Country will pull an Ickey Woods. “Britton gonna get Col-cut today. Whew.”

Colquitt’s cap number for 2015 is $3.75 million … for a punter. If he gets cut prior to June 1, the dead money for Denver is $1.5 million. After June 1, the dead money is $750K. Needless to say, any move on Colquitt should and will come after June 1 to save the hit from the dead money. The savings from cutting Colquitt is $2.25 million.

Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos punter Britton Colquitt (4) against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Either through the draft or free agency, Elway and the Broncos should get a guy who is way more effective and doesn’t take a huge cap hit. How any punter cannot be effective in Denver blows my mind.

Regardless, the cap space created when Colquitt gets Col-cut is why this move must happen.

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In terms of the return game, DeCamillis should give Jordan Norwood a strong look. He is coming off an injury, but before he did he was poised to get the job. Norwood should be even more motivated to get the job this season. To prove what he did during training camp and the preseason was no fluke.

One aspect you know will improve under DeCamillis is the kick, punt coverage and return game. No longer will the highlight of the Broncos specials teams be a returner getting blown up by a punter.

DeCamillis will have his guys in the right spot, and play fast, mean and tough. To succeed on special teams, you need that mindset. You will not get beat, and you will do whatever it takes to make the play.

The last four years, the Broncos didn’t have that. They weren’t anywhere close to that. It was as if that phase of the game didn’t matter. Minus a few fluke plays from Trindon Holliday. “Oh, look, another huge return.” “Oh, look, another missed assignment.” “Oh, look, another returner blown up by the punter.”

The hope is that when games are in Denver, the Broncos have a kicker who boots every kickoff out of the endzone. On the road, if the kick gets returned, the opponents don’t start on their, at least, 35-yard line.

For the first time in four years, Broncos Country has reason to feel excitement over the special teams. The first step came with DeCamillis hired as the new special teams coordinator.

Now when the talk turns to the Broncos special teams, we may even do some Ickey Shuffles. “Britton gonna get Col-cut today.”

Next: John Elway now has faith in his coach to develop the younger players

Next: Broncos have Combine meeting setup with TE Maxx Williams

Feb 20, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers tight end Maxx Williams catches a pass during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports