When it comes to the Broncos, there’s been one major issue that even the most divided fans can agree on; the quarterback. Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Case Keenum and even “Average” Joe Flacco were all major disappointments. Osweiler was supposed to be the smooth transition from hall of famer, Peyton Manning, but either way you want to slice it, he headed for greener pastures in Houston. Sure, he came back and I would have liked to see him given more of an opportunity but it just wasn’t meant to be. Siemian had a few moments but simply didn’t possess any semblance of a franchise qb. Lynch was a first round bust from the start while Keenum proved to be nothing more than a flash in the pan during his time with the Vikings. Flacco won a SB with Baltimore but the Joe Flacco that suited up for the Broncos was an imposter. Whatever greatness he possessed during his memorable playoff runs was all but gone and his fizzle made way for Drew Lock; a second round pick that had nearly all of Broncos country optimistic about the future at the position. That was in 2019. After 4 games. Against bad to average teams. And again, here we sit. It’s February of 2021 and that ole familiar quarterback-less feeling is back in Colorado. After a rough season for Lock, Broncos country seems to be ready to move on from the Mizzou Tiger. And why wouldn’t they be? Statistically he was one of the worst qb’s in the NFL, throwing for just under 3,000 yards, only 16 TD’s to an alarming 15 INT’s. There’s no getting around it, the first full year with Drew Lock under center was slightly terrifying. So, should Denver now set their sights on a guy like Deshaun Watson, who is ready to get as far away from Houston as possible? It’ll take 3 first round picks just to get GM Nick Caserio to pick up the phone. And with new Broncos GM, George Paton, promising to build a playoff team through the draft, to me, it would seem that’s too steep of a price to pay.
So what should Denver do? Build a defense so damn good that Lock won’t have to do much more than what Manning did during the SB 50 run; don’t lose the game. Sure, Manning did more than that as he was still able to change play calls at the line of scrimmage while identifying what the opposing defenses were doing but he was not the same Sheriff that we saw the 3 years prior. It was Denver’s defense that proved to be the biggest factor in bringing home a 3rd SB title. So why not recapture that model? Last year, given the fact their defensive leader, Von Miller, and a handful of difference makers missed the season, for the most part of 2020, they were a top 10 unit that eventually fell closer to middle of the pack as more and more injuries piled up. Point being, with the amount of injuries they had at the beginning and throughout the year and the fact the offense didn’t provide much aid, they were somehow a little above average. For the most part, if you want a playoff team, you need to have at least one side of the ball sniffing the top 5 in overall defensive/offensive play. The offense, with or without Deshaun Watson, is still very young. So even in the off-chance, the very off-chance, that the Broncos will give a king’s ransom to the Texans, Denver still has a lot of growing to do offensively in 2021. However, the defensive side of the ball might not be too far away from becoming a top 5 unit as soon as next season. So forget the qb for now. Let Drew Lock duke it out for one more season while taking the pressure off of the young offense. Create a defensive unit that can fight back against an AFC west filled with outstanding quarterbacks, starting of course with Patrick Mahomes. Not even Deshaun Watson can go blow for blow against him. Don’t try to outrun Mahomes, try to stop him and to do that, Denver should have a check list full of “musts” before training camp begins this summer.
- Sign Justin Simmons to a long term deal. Whatever is takes, make it happen. Simmons and Kareem Jackson are one of the best safety duos in the league. So if you want to build a top ranked D, secure your best player.
- See if Von will take any kind of a pay cut and do your best to keep him. He’s not what he used to be, but I’d still like to see a healthy combo of Miller and Bradley Chubb.
- I’m ok if they keep Jurrell Casey and look to resign Shelby Harris to sure up the D-line but they should look for more help in the later rounds of the draft or free agency.
- Whether you keep A.J. Bouye or not, drafting a CB at #9 is a must and with a guy like Patrick Surtain II likely falling to 9 or 10, Denver will have a shutdown corner to go along with stellar DB, Bryce Callahan and last years 3rd round pick, Michael Ojemudia.
- In the next round, at least, Denver should be looking at linebacker. Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson are fine players but not elite. We didn’t get to see rookie Justin Strnad as he suffered a season ending injury in camp but I’d still like more depth there. Finding an upgrade at inside LB is a huge priority this offseason.
As you can see, so much hinges on keeping Simmons in blue and orange and judging by Paton and Simmons’ latest comments, I’d say the chances of a deal getting done are very good.
“We had a pretty good conversation,” Simmons told KCNC’s Michael Spencer in a recent interview. “He said, ‘Hey, look, we’ll talk football stuff down the road, I just wanted to introduce myself and let you know how excited I am to have this job, to have this opportunity and I feel like we’re going to build something special here.’”
Before that, Paton made it clear they weren’t going to let their great players go, when asked about Simmons. “We got to try to figure out how to keep him.” We’re not going to let our good young players go… I’ve admired him from afar—really talented. And I can’t wait to talk to him and meet him.” he told 104.3 The Fan.
There’s plenty of “to-do’s” for George Paton but it all starts with securing your best players and team leaders and THAT starts with Simmons. If the Broncos handle this offseason the right way, they could have a top 5 defense in 2021 and perhaps with a new focus on running the football, Denver might start to show Broncos country a positive glimpse into the future. Deshaun Watson is a top 5 QB, there’s no question. But what will he have to work with? Several young, albeit talented, unproven WR’s, a run game with some strengths but nowhere near elite and an offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmur, who, let’s face it, has a lot to prove next season. So don’t give away the farm for a QB only to come to Denver to find there’s a lot of holes offensively. Instead, use those picks to manufacture a defense that can actually contend in the AFC West. The Broncos won’t be able to find a Patrick Mahomes. Not now, maybe not ever. They do, however, have a better shot of finding an elite defense. If you can’t be the man….beat the man.