After the Broncos endured yet another humiliating defeat -- this time at the hands of the Jets -- it has become painfully clear (if it wasn't already) that the Broncos have a talent deficiency at almost every spot on the field. The current roster structure is the result of seven years of patchwork with no real plan or vision from the front office. Denver as a franchise was once a beacon of consistency, a team that prided itself on never bottoming out, but over the last several years, the Broncos have done nothing but sink. In an effort to keep up its winning ways without hitting the reset button, Denver has built a roster that lacks cohesion and individual playmakers. Time to rebuild.
Since the legendary Peyton Manning retired, the Broncos and many of its fans have echoed similar sentiments year after year: "Just a quarterback away", "Just a coach away", "Just one more playmaker". Finally, after almost a decade of subpar football, three head coach firings, and a myriad of failed draft picks and free agent signings, everyone in Denver can see the truth. The Broncos do not have one or two fixable problems, they have just about every problem in the book.
The biggest point of concern is the historically bad defense being coordinated by the much-maligned Vance Joseph. Outside of Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons in the secondary, there is a lot of sweet nothing on that side of the ball. Corner Damarri Mathis, who I expected to take a leap this year, has been one of the worst starting corners in the NFL through five weeks, and the corners behind him on the depth chart have not provided any kind of relief.
Things are not much better in the middle either. The starting duo of Alex Singleton and Josey Jewell at inside linebacker will not cut it if Denver wants to improve. While both play with great energy, neither is particularly good in coverage and are average run stoppers at best. Up front, the edge duo of Nik Bonitto and Jonathan Cooper have been an overall positive, but the interior line has been so putrid it makes the impact from the edges negligible.
Offensively, the performance has been far better than the defense, but there are still clear limitations based on current personnel. Denver lacks playmakers. Starting wideouts Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton have been expected to become an explosive duo for years, but too much time has passed without an explosion. They are no longer a promising young duo, they are underperforming veterans. Beyond the receivers, the tight end room has zero pass catchers outside of Greg Dulcich, and aside from rookie Jaleel McLaughlin, the running backs have been underwhelming. Throw in an average-at-best offensive line, and you have one of the most limited offensive structures imaginable.
To put it plainly, the Broncos are weak at just about every position on the field. Each group could be broken down and criticized to oblivion, but that would only explain things we already know. So, how do they fix it? At this point, everyone in Broncos Country has the same answer- tear it down.
Almost everyone is on the table to get moved. Veterans like Garrett Bolles, Simmons, Sutton, Kareem Jackson, etc. are more than likely going to be playing somewhere else after the trade deadline, and if they are not gone by then, they certainly will not be around in 2024. I would not consider myself a player transaction and cap space expert, so I will refrain from speculating about potential trade deals, but the fact is the Broncos will be heavy sellers at the trade deadline and in the offseason. For better or for worse, drastic change is coming.
The winning precedent set by the Broncos of old set expectations a mile high. After years of trying to awaken a "sleeping giant", Denver has finally come to the realization that there was never a giant there in the first place. A rebuild is not as doom and gloom as it sounds, and frankly, it will be exciting to see big changes. Going full rebuild mode is, however, a sign of how drastically things can shift in the NFL.
For decades, the Broncos were NFL royalty. They owned the AFC West, competed for Super Bowls and losing seasons were few and far between. Now, the once revered franchise flops around the basement with the other league doormats, losing games and squabbling with the Jets.