The Denver Broncos' struggles in recent years to figure out the quarterback position have been well-documented (and animated in the form of a goofy carousel) at this point. Fortunately, we haven't seen any sort of carousel animations for the team's other primary area of struggle the last handful of years, which is the right tackle position.
The Broncos have been cycling through quarterbacks and right tackles in recent years at an embarrassing rate. The team's winning and losing is not as directly tied to the right tackle as it is their horrendous overall quarterback play, but there's no doubt that each of those positions plays their respective part.
But there's one position the Denver Broncos can't seem to figure out that is way more confusing than the others. That would be the team's punter position. Although it seems rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, the Broncos having bad punting over the last seven years has played a much more significant role in the team's inability to win games than people really realize.
Denver Broncos average starting field position (defense) ranking since 2016
This data shows that Denver Broncos' opponents, over the last seven years, are starting with better than league-average field position a majority of the time. You can chalk that up to a few specific areas: The kickoff game, the inability to move the ball offensively, and punting. The average ranking among those figures is 19th, and the Broncos have been middle of the road or worse in terms of net punting since 2016 in the majority of seasons.
Since 2016, the team has cycled through the likes of Riley Dixon (who is back in 2022), Colby Wadman, Marquette King, Sam Martin, and Corliss Waitman. It hasn't been as pronounced of a revolving door as a more important position like quarterback, but when you consider how bad the Denver Broncos' offense has struggled in the post-Peyton Manning era, it's all the more valuable for the team to have an advantage in the field position battle.
That's an advantage they simply have not had.
The Broncos' own offense has had bad starting field position, but losing the field position battle is a total team effort. The Broncos' special teams unit has been horrendous in recent years and it didn't get any better last year under Dwayne Stukes. Sean Payton brought in legendary special teams coach Mike Westhoff this offseason and hired Ben Kotwica to run a unit that is going to need to help the Broncos win in the "hidden yardage" department more often.
And the Broncos brought back Riley Dixon to try and help them fill that void in the punting department. The last thing you need when you have a struggling offense is an inconsistent punting game. The Broncos' inconsistencies at punter the last handful of years have spelled doom for even one of the league's best defenses.
When you consider the Denver Broncos have averaged the 19th overall ranking in opponent starting field position, it's even more impressive that this team has averaged the 13th overall ranking when it comes to points allowed. The defense has had to carry this team in more ways than even meet the eye.
The Denver Broncos need to figure out their longstanding issue at punter. Ever since they let go of Britton Colquitt, who punted for the team in Super Bowl 50, they have had a revolving door at the position. Having consistency and stability in the kicking game is vital to the success of any NFL team, but for a team like the Broncos which has struggled to move the ball, better punting over the last seven years could have won this team more games with how good the defenses have been.
It feels like punting in Denver should be a punter's paradise. Every time punters come in to Denver, it seems like they're hitting the ball 60 yards regularly. The ball just comes booming off the foot of the opposing punter, who seems to be under a placebo effect of sorts that the ball can go any height or distance in the Mile High air. The Denver Broncos' punters have not appeared to be under any such illusion. They just don't hit the ball as hard as the opposition. They don't flip the field like the opposition has.
Hopefully, Riley Dixon can turn that all around in 2023.