Denver Broncos need more than just a quarterback to fix their offense

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Since winning the Super Bowl back in 2015, the Denver Broncos have had a very difficult time finding a quarterback to replace Peyton Manning. The Broncos attempted to use a backup who was behind Manning in Trevor Siemian; they’ve tried solving the problem through the draft with Paxton Lynch and Drew Lock or trading for a veteran like Joe Flacco. They even tried the big splashy trade, which many thought was finally the answer, in acquiring Russell Wilson. As we now know, none of those options panned out for the Broncos.

The quarterback is obviously the most important position for any team in the NFL, which is why, looking at the Broncos' struggles over the last eight years, everyone points to their lack of quarterback as the main problem. Yes, their main issue has been finding a game-changer at quarterback, but there is another glaring weakness the Broncos have had over this time span that most other successful teams have had. It’s the lack of a star wide receiver.

Over the past handful of years, the Broncos' best receiver has been Courtland Sutton. The team has tried to add complimenting pieces next to him by drafting Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in the 2020 NFL draft, but neither of those players reached their full potential the way they had hoped. The verdict is still out on second-year receiver Marvin Mims, who could be in for a big second year with the Broncos.

It’s felt the Broncos have had good depth over the past few years, but, outside of Sutton's ability to make near-impossible catches, they haven’t had a star who changes the game. When the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, he was the missing piece to what became one of the best offenses of all time. The wide receiver depth was amazing, but it all started with the late great Demaryius Thomas. 

From 2012 to 2016, Thomas led the Broncos in receiving yards, posting over 1,000 each time. Sure, he had Peyton Manning, but Thomas was still an elite weapon. Since then, the Broncos have had just one 1,000-yard receiver, and it was Courtland Sutton in 2019. If the Broncos want to help put Bo Nix in the best position to succeed, getting a true star receiver should be near the top of the list. 

Most successful teams have had an elite receiver. The Chiefs have had Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill over their run of dominance, the Buccaneers had Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and the Rams had Cooper Kupp for their Super Bowl. The NFL has become more and more reliant on the passing game and rule changes are helping that cause. 

Courtland Sutton is one of the best at bailing out his quarterback and probably deserves more credit than he gets from NFL fans and media. But Nix will still benefit greatly from a superstar wideout, and Sutton is probably a tier or two below that. If Sean Payton does view Nix as a Drew Brees, point guard type of quarterback, then he needs his version of Jimmy Graham or Michael Thomas to help make that a reality, and, as of now, the Broncos don’t have a player on the roster that reaches the level of those two at their primes.