Denver Broncos fans tapering expectations for 2023

After a terrible 2022 campaign and a shaky performance in week one of the preseason, Broncos fans' typically lofty expectations have tapered off heading into 2023.

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / David Eulitt/GettyImages

After witnessing what can only be described as a disastrous 2022 season, some Denver Broncos fans are understandably hesitant to get excited for 2023. Fans of the team have been generally optimistic, but deep down in Broncos Country, there is a lingering feeling that has led to fans erring on the side of caution - our beloved Broncos might hurt us again. 

Acquiring a future Hall of Fame coach in Sean Payton has created a brighter outlook for the team’s future. In any other offseason, the addition of Payton might have had fans predicting a fourth Lombardi Trophy to be paraded through the streets of Denver, but the scars of 2022 and a shaky outing in week 1 of the preseason have drastically lowered expectations.

It’s a place unfamiliar to Broncos fans in the 21st century. The franchise that was once the third-winningest team of the Super Bowl era has endured six straight losing seasons and seven straight seasons without making the playoffs. A fanbase can only endure so much before high standards turn to hope for simple competence.

Whether it was believing Case Keenum could fill the void at quarterback, or believing Vic Fangio’s hard nose style would be exactly what the team needed, there was a true belief in Broncos Country that the team would eventually return to playoff or even contending form. That belief -- at least for me -- is gone. 

Russell Wilson’s arrival in 2022 brought the excitement to a brand-new level. This was not Case Keenum or Joe Flacco, this was Russell freaking Wilson. Of course, we all know how that initial season played out. The team wasn’t just losing, they were embarrassing themselves. The product on the field in 2022 was so bad it made the Vance Joseph and Vic Fangio head coaching tenures feel like glory days. 

Horrible clock management, fumbles on the goal line, injuries, an inability to convert on third down of any distance -- Murphy's Law was in full effect for the Broncos as everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. The image of fans rushing to the exits before overtime of an ugly Thursday Night matchup with the Colts will be forever singed in my brain as perhaps the darkest time for modern-era Broncos fans. Denver has been at rock bottom for a while, but at least hitting rock bottom means things can only move upward, if things move at all.


2022 seeped a lot of positivity out of myself and many other hurt Broncos fans. Sean Payton certainly creates a level of excitement, but it will be a long time before I’ll find myself screaming Super Bowl. It is a fully new era in the Mile High City; new owners, new coaches, and an unfamiliar familiarity with losing have defined the Broncos thus far. A bitter division rival is looking to be the NFL’s next great dynasty, and other AFC powerhouses look like they’ll be around for a while, leaving the once-revered Broncos behind. Things have been bleak in Denver for some time, but I suppose the beauty of every NFL season is there will always be, whether big or small, a glimmer of hope.

Here’s to going at least 9-8!

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