The Gazette's Lindsey Smith and Matt Wiley discuss their expectations about the upcoming Broncos season.
Lindsey's take: From a non-Broncos fan perspective, there's a lot to be excited about in 2020
Full disclosure: I am not a Broncos fan. I am a tried and true Eagles fan still basking in that sweet SB LII victory.
But I think there’s something special happening in Denver, and I’m excited to see what this franchise can do with its collection of young talent.
Drew Lock, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Courtland Sutton, Phillip Lindsay — these young guns are going to turn the gridiron into a track meet. And that’s my favorite kind of football.
It’s going to be electric and hopefully produce some wins.
First let’s talk about Drew Lock. At 23 years old and a 4-1 record, I think he’s on his way to becoming a fan favorite. He’s charismatic, a good locker room guy with endless potential with the right talent around him.
Enter, Jerry Jeudy. Have you seen his offseason workout videos? Need I say more? He is a beast. And paired with fellow rookie Hamler and Sutton coming off his first pro bowl season? — Phew.
Another disclaimer: Hamler has been my guy since 2018 when he shocked Ohio State with a 93-yard touchdown reception as a freshman at Penn State. Hamler is small but mighty and plays like he has something to prove.
The addition of Pat Shurmur at OC, who has a history of helping speedy offenses (Re: 2013 Philadelphia Eagles) and young quarterbacks, might be a match made in heaven.
But can the defense put them in a position to win? Road signs lead to yes.
Last year Vic Fangio’s scheme produced the league’s best red zone defense, paired with new additions and the hopeful return of Bradley Chubb, the defense appears to be getting better.
There’s a lot to look forward to this season and I’m excited to add Broncos games to my Sunday routine.
Matt's take: Pump the breaks on expectations for the Broncos
There's no doubting that the Broncos, on paper, have the potential to be one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL. Excitement doesn't always translate into victories so don't expect Denver to make the playoffs just yet.
Ever since Colin Cowherd predicted the Broncos would take down the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, and win the AFC West, the expectations for the team have gotten a little out of hand.
Yes, the Broncos are built around a 23-year-old second-year quarterback in Drew Lock. In five starts he had four more touchdown passes than interceptions. But we've seen this before. In 2007 Jay Cutler entered the season at 24 with four more TDs than INTs in five starts as a rookie and Denver went 7-9.
Yes, Denver has rebuilt the skill positions around young, fast players (Courtland Sutton 24, Jerry Jeudy 21, Noah Fant 22, KJ Hamler 20, Phillip Lindsay 25, Melvin Gordon 27), but they are missing valuable time in a professionally coached camp because of precautions from the coronavirus. Sure, the highlights on social media are great — but it's a different game with pads on. It's going to take time for this team to reach its endless potential.
Pat Shurmur was brought in as offensive coordinator because Denver ranked 28th in total offense (298.6 yards per game and 17.6 points). Call me skeptical, but the intricacies of his system can't be duplicated at practices at the park. He incorporates elements of a West Coast offense with a vertical passing game and mixes in hurry-up with three-receiver formations. That's a significant difference from the 2019 Broncos which ranked ninth in the league at 42.87 % of the offensive plays being runs.
Vegas has Denver at 8 wins and I'd guess that would be closer to reality than taking down Kansas City.