It’s the dawn of a new day for the Denver Broncos as attention turns to a new head coach with many attractions up and down the roster.
The unfortunate side with NFL is coaches and players do lose jobs. For Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, it was a move that needed to be made to put the franchise in the right direction. However, Fangio has one particular area that will be attractive for coaches who will interview for the team’s vacancy and that is defense.
Fangio’s mark has always been the defensive side of the ball and he has turned the Broncos into a defensive juggernaut. Unfortunately, the other side of the ball has put the defense in terrible situations. You could say it’s been a repeat of the years past.
Denver’s defense has talent on nearly every single level. From the backend to the front end the team is stacked. The defensive line could certainly use some bolstering, but players like Dre’Mont Jones along with edge rushers Bradley Chubb and rising player in the league Jonathon Cooper give the team a solid foundation.
Inside there is Shelby Harris who made it known this season he’s not just a batted passes artist, but one who can create pressure to get to quarterbacks. Mike Purcell had a rough season for the Denver Broncos, but once he’s healthy the team will have an underrated run defender inside. It’s still a work in progress on the inside of that line but it’s workable.
The true nature of Denver’s talent is with linebackers, pass rush, and secondary. We mentioned Bradley Chubb above and he’s proven to be a stellar run defender. If Chubb is not creating pressure on quarterbacks, he’s clogging the run lanes eliminating chances for backs. The same goes for Jonathon Cooper as well.
Chubb has taken him under his wing it seems and Cooper has made most of the opportunities. He’s been one of the better run defenders as well for the team when Chubb had been out and the moment Denver traded Von Miller away. Malik Reed is another underrated player; however, he does get a little late responding once he seals the edge. Reed is a disciplined player but still struggles to get home at times.
Inside linebacker and secondary are really where the intrigue begins. For as much as depth was tested throughout the year, linebackers were faced adversity. Much like when the secondary went through numerous injuries for consecutive seasons linebackers felt the same way.
Both starters at the beginning of the season Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson sustained season-ending injuries. While Baron Browning shows tremendous promise it was unknown when he’d cement himself as the guy.
Once Jewell went down, Browning showed flashes that make him a candidate as a starter next season. Kenny Young, acquired from Miller trade, did show signs he could return as well in the off-season.
The wildcard at linebacker is one of Jonas Griffith. Griffith showed incredible promise in both special teams and starts once Young was lost to a concussion. Griffith showed athleticism, read and react along with instincts to shed blockers creating many opportunities for himself as a linebacker. He looked really good, to be honest. The linebacker position has some depth concerns, but also promise.
The secondary became one of the most invested in position groups in the league. Two cornerbacks are potentially on the out with free agency: Bryce Callahan and Kyle Fuller. However, the room of Pat Surtain II, Ronald Darby, Michael Ojemudia, and Nate Hairston showed promise. The back end had Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, and Caden Sterns.
Denver would need to make a secondary move to acquire a cornerback in free agency. But the foundation is huge regarding the new head coach. Barring a few moves, the defense for the most part is in place.
On the offensive side, the intrigue is real and the problem is glaring. Ever since Peyton Manning left the building it’s been one weakness and that is the quarterback position. Quarterback has been a revolving door since Manning and until that position is fixed, Denver won’t find much success long-term.
Drew Lock might be in Denver, but he also might not. Depends on if he’s in the new coach’s plans. The intrigue with the offensive side is the playmakers. Everything from running backs, wide receivers and tight ends the room and potential is legitimate.
The running back position was a strong suit for the team and one which helped play-action along with opportunities for the wide receivers which seemed like few and far between, but the impact was there. The chances when they did happen would be a large impact providing big plays.
Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick proved to be a formidable trio that has gotten wasted because of quarterback play and coaches. It’s a trio that very well could produce 1,000+ yarders if the right person is in place; however, due to product on the field, it’s been nonexistent.
Jeudy with zero touchdowns on the season is the biggest travesty to happen in the 2021 campaign. Sutton and Jeudy are great WR1-caliber players and potential stars in the making. Both of them have the makings to be elite of the elite. The next staff which comes to Denver should focus solely on maximizing every single weapon on the offense.
As mentioned above this includes the tight ends Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam. Fant if used properly would become the top ten tight end in the NFL. Okwuegbunam is another playmaker and shows a little more athleticism than but both are very gifted. Adding both Fant and Okwuegbunam to the wide receiver room is another point of emphasis for the next head coach.
Fant is a vertical threat who challenges every blade of grass that way. He’s also a rhythm-tight end it seems. Fant appears plays utilize his talents upfield to become a threat. Both simply are dynamic.
It all hinges on the quarterback. Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater did not exactly move the needle in 2021 causing more questions about Denver’s future at quarterback.
Bridgewater’s play was good during times and played with toughness. While Bridgewater displayed traits of accuracy and moments of brilliance it never became evident he was running away with anything long-term.
Lock has been a fascinating study for a few years now. Potential has certainly been therewith and the lack of a staff continuity or commitment to him might have affected growth for his development. Also, Lock has not helped matters with decision-making and footwork. Too often habits got in his way resulting in bad situations for this football team.
Denver must have its identity start with the one that is the most important position in sports. The new head coach must identify where he wants to go with the quarterback then everything on offense will fall in place. The sole reason this area is attractive is for a coach’s chance to bring the quarterback he wants to build around.
This ultimatum or conundrum results in Denver Broncos being a mystery for where they should go with their next head coach. The plan falls directly on new GM George Paton’s shoulders. Paton will hire the best possible candidate for the team and it’s fair to respectfully critique him in that.
As for myself, a defensive-minded coach is not my first choice, but if he’s someone who brings higher energy and one to unify a locker room it’s good enough for me. However, my personal preference is an offensive-minded coach. This is where coaches like Kellen Moore, Brian Callahan, Kevin O’Connell, Nathaniel Hackett are the play for this team.
Denver’s greatest weakness is its greatest strength. If the young offensive-minded coach brings the same energy and enthusiasm to a team desperate for unity, then sign me up.
Everyone certainly has a role to play and it will take all of them to perform at a much higher level. However, currently, that big hole is the head coach. Yet, as we listed above in different areas the Denver Broncos provide plenty of intrigue on offense and defense to tempt numerous coaches to be interested in the franchise.
It has already been known Denver will be a hot spot for coaches and the position groups listed above are one reason for it to be attractive.