NFL Post-Mortem: The 2017 Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos were a mighty juggernaut. In 2013, under head coach John Fox and General Manager John Elway the team went 13-3 and made it to the Super Bowl… where they got stomped by Seattle Seahawks 43-8. In 2014, they went 12-4 and got the AFC Divisional round and lost to the Indianapolis Colts 24-13. It was decided the problem was Coach Fox who had a record of 48-18 over four years, making the playoffs all four years.

They went to Gary Kubiak to coach the team, who took them to a 12-4 record and they won the Super Bowl that year. And then Peyton Manning retired and Brock Osweiler left in free agency, leaving the team with Trevor Siemian and the 1st round draft pick Paxton Lynch. The team went 9-7 and Kubiak left for health reasons. That brings us to 2017.

Denver BroncosWhat Happened?

The team brought in Vance Joseph, who had never been a head coach and was only a defensive coordinator for one year with the Miami Dolphins before getting the job. He had been a defensive backs coach for 13 years prior to that. The team went into the season with many of the same players, hoping the defense would continue to dominate and that the offense would mature and get better.

They didn't have any real big free agent additions or flashy draft picks. The biggest signing was after Lynch hurt his shoulder — the team brought back Osweiler, who had played well in 2015 but had a horrible 2016 season with the Houston Texans. The offense seemed to regress even further and the defense started showing its age. They started out 3-1 after four games and went into an early bye week that might have killed whatever momentum they had. They proceeded to lose their next eight games, all but two by large margins. They tried switching from Siemian to Osweiler, and even Lynch got in once his shoulder healed. They would win back-to-back games in December before losing the last two of the season. They finished an extremely disappointing 5-11 and were last in the AFC South.

What's Next?

Elway and company have to accept that they can't just try to band-aid up the offense and hope the defense can keep them in games like they did with Manning. When he came over form the Colts, Manning wasn't the dominating quarterback he had been, but the defense was able to shut down their opponents enough that what Peyton had left in the tank was enough for a Super Bowl. But after that, it started going downhill. The team could try another rookie, but the window is starting to close for the aging defense. They will need to start rebuilding both sides soon, meaning they have to get the quarterback position right or they'll be on the down side for a few years while trying to put all the pieces back together. I think Elway is more likely to look at some of the veteran signal callers that might come free from other teams. If Eli Manning, Alex Smith, or someone of that caliber shakes loose, expect to see the Broncos jump in on the bidding at least.

If they don't pull a fast turnaround, I expect that Joseph will get a quick hook and the Broncos will go and find a more experienced head coach, possibly with an offensive background.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.