The start of training camp is less than two months away. So it’s time to ponder a few things when it comes to Vic Fangio’s Denver Broncos.
Back in 2016 and four games into defense of their Super Bowl 50 title, the Denver Broncos owned a 4-0 mark. But that season would conclude with seven setbacks in the team’s final 12 games and the Men from Mile High would miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
It was on to new head coach Vance Joseph for the next 2 seasons, who compiled a disappointing 11-21 mark. It all adds up to the Broncos losing 28 of their last 44 contest after that unbeaten start in ‘16. Now enter new sideline leader Vic Fangio, a head coach in the NFL for the first time and late the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears.
This past season, Denver overcame an erratic start but was 6-6 with four games to go. The team would not win again and now there’s a new starting quarterback in town. So what are the pressing issues that Fangio and the team face as the 2019 season approaches?
5. Will the offensive line become a club strength?
At the very least, this will be a different looking unit this fall. Center Matt Paradis, who missed the final seven games this past season with a broken leg, signed with the Carolina Panthers. Guards Billy Turner and Max Garcia are now members of the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals, respectively. And tackle Jared Veldheer, who would sign a free-agent deal with the New England Patriots, changed his mind and opted for retirement. All made at least four starts this past season. Meanwhile, left guard Ronald Leary is coming off missing 10 games with an Achilles’ injury. And the jury remains out on left tackle Garett Boles, who has started every contest the past two seasons.
In terms of veteran additions, free agency brings right tackle Ju’Waun James and center Jake Brendel – both from the Miami Dolphins – as well as journeyman blocker Chaz Green, late of the Oakland Raiders. General manager John Elway used a second-round pick in April on Kansas State tackle Dalton Risner.
A year ago, the Broncos allowed just 34 sacks – quite an improvement from the previous season (52). But can the offensive line be a dominant unit and make life easier for veteran signal-caller Joe Flacco and the Denver running game? It will be interesting to see how this group gels.