May 14, 2014 Updated: May 15, 2014 at 6:12 am
DENVER — Emmanuel Sanders wasn't here last year. He was over there, in Pittsburgh, playing with the Steelers and a different Hall of Fame quarterback.
"They're both winning organizations. The difference is, Pittsburgh (and Ben Roethlisberger) is more smash mouth," said Sanders, the new receiver for the Broncos. "Not saying Denver isn't, but we've got Peyton Manning. So they're throwing the football."
So much for that identity change, identity crisis or alleged identity theft (by the Seahawks). The Broncos are what they are. Their reputation precedes them.
"As a receiver, to say that you're going to the No. 1 offense in the National Football League last year, why wouldn't you want to be a part of that?" Sanders added on Wednesday at Dove Valley.
For good reason, offseason headlines focused on the acquisitions that should strengthen the Broncos defense. News flash: Smash sells. Free agents Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware knew their audience when they announced they want to bring nasty back. "Brutal nasty," Ware added for emphasis.
Cool, fellas. To win a Super Bowl, Denver needs it.
But you're still the sideshow.
Whether it's a Grand Junction native like Ben Garland or a Colorado transplant like Sanders, the Broncos know what they are and make no apologies for it.
They are an offensive juggernaut that rewrote the record book. All it took to bring them down was the biggest, baddest NFL defense I've witnessed in almost 30 years.
Yes, the Broncos needed an influx of mean. The New Jersey mugging that doubled as a Super Bowl put that on display for the world to see.
But when John Elway — the Don, not the Duke — traded up and used a coveted second-round pick on yet another gifted wide receiver, his message was just as clear.
Strengthening the defense was important. But it's still Manning's 18th Airborne and Adam Gase's imagination that will carry the Broncos to another Super Bowl berth.
With Sanders, the former Steeler, the Broncos got more dangerous at wide receiver. And that's coming from a football observer who will remember Eric Decker as an undervalued receiver, not a reality TV star.
With Cody Latimer, the second-round pick, the Broncos got a guy who needs to iron his shirts before he goes on TV. They also got a carbon copy of Decker.
Coming out of the Big Ten (Indiana), Latimer is 6-foot-2, 215 pounds. Coming out of the Big Ten (Minnesota), Decker was 6-3, 217.
"I didn't come in and tear up the league (as a rookie), but we did go to the Super Bowl," Sanders said. "So I'm hoping (Latimer) does the same thing. But this time I hope we win it all."
With Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker, the Broncos know what they have. Orange Julius, in particular, is a year older and should be a year better.
The Broncos lost a running back, Knowshon Moreno, and didn't add one. The Broncos lost a wide receiver (Decker) and added two more (Sanders, Latimer) and signed another, Bubba Caldwell, to an extension.
What does that tell you?
The Broncos are what they are and make no apologies for it. What's their identity?
Same as it ever was.