PFT preseason power rankings No. 12: Denver Broncos

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The Broncos lost their quarterback after the 2015 Super Bowl season. They lost their coach after last season. Coach Gary Kubiak retired with health issues a year after Peyton Manning retired.

General Manager John Elway hired Vance Joseph as head coach, with Joe Woods taking over the defense from Wade Phillips and Mike McCoy returning as offensive coordinator. The offense, which finished 27th in total offense and had the fourth-most three-and-outs, will look different with more shotgun, more power schemes and more motion, among other changes. The quarterback could change, too, with Paxton Lynch competing with Trevor Siemian for the starting job.

Whether it’s Lynch or Siemian, an improved running game should help. The Broncos signed Jamaal Charles; C.J. Anderson returns from a torn meniscus; and Denver drafted De’Angelo Henderson. They also sought to fix their offensive line, with a new position coach and three key additions.

But the one thing that hasn’t changed in Denver is the defense, which allowed the fourth-fewest points last season in keeping the Broncos competitive. Von Miller, Shane Ray, Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward, among others, are back. They have put an emphasis on improving their run defense after ranking 28th last season.

The defense will keep the Broncos in the hunt this season, but it all depends on the quarterback play.

Biggest positive change: The Broncos offensive line needed an overhaul after last season, and it got it. Vance Joseph hired Jeff Davidson as the position coach, and he expects to use more power blocking. The Broncos committed $24.15 million in guarantees to former Cowboys guard Ron Leary and former Raiders tackle Menelik Watson. They drafted Garett Bolles in the first round to play left tackle.

Biggest negative change: Under coordinator Wade Phillips, the Broncos ranked fourth in total defense and fourth in points allowed last season and first in total defense and fourth in yards allowed in 2015. Phillips left for the Rams, earning secondary coach Joe Woods a promotion. Yes, the Broncos had their issues against the run, ranking 28th, and in first-drive points, allowing 55, but General Manager John Elway said the team’s No. 1 priority was to “stay great” on defense. It is Woods’ job to keep them there.

Coaching thermometer: Vance Joseph will get a honeymoon. It might not last long seeing that the Broncos won a Super Bowl so recently, but Joseph will get time. Joseph, who was the Dolphins defensive coordinator last season, is preaching toughness and the players bought in during the offseason.

We’d like to crack a beer with . . . Von Miller. He’s one of the NFL’s good guys aside from, you know, wanting to kill quarterbacks. He’s got personality and a smile to match, which is why he became a face of the league after earning Super Bowl 50 MVP honors.

How they can prove us wrong: The defense figures out how to stop the run again. To that end, they got bigger in free agency, adding Domata Peko (325 pounds) and Zach Kerr (334 pounds). Rushing the passer, with Von Miller and Shane Ray, and defending the pass, with Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward, remain strengths. The Broncos defense is going to keep them in games and keep them as contenders in the AFC West. How much improvement the offense shows will determine just how good the Broncos are.

The offensive line and running back positions appear improved on paper, and the Broncos still have dangerous receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Mike McCoy’s return as coordinator will help. The question remains at quarterback where Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch take their battle into training camp.

34 responses to “PFT preseason power rankings No. 12: Denver Broncos

  1. Denver fan here. Honestly, 12 seems maybe a little high to have us but it’s not too far off. Optimism aside, the defense shuts down great teams and held Brady’s Pats to 16 points last year (in a loss because SHOCKER, the offense couldn’t score).

    CJ Anderson can never stay healthy so Jamaal Charles knee is going to be a huge x-factor, as is Paxton Lynch’s ability to lead which is what will win or lose him the QB battle in Preseason. This team hinges on Lynch, if Siemian wins the battle the season is already over.

  2. This is too high for the Donko’s, who will be lucky to win 6 games this year.

  3. Oh yeah. I’m gonna crack open a beer with him because he’s got a great smile. :eyeroll:

  4. How does a non-playoff team jump so many other who actually did improve? 12 is too strong for this team. They are 12 if you really believe that Lynch is ready. If you don’t, then this team should be 15 to 17, in a fight to get a wild card.

  5. I feel losing Wade Phillips is going to hurt them more than they may think?

  6. Von is such a down to earth kind of guy. Love that he raises chickens and names his chickens after his teammates. The video of his chicken farm was hilarious my favorite was when he was explaining why he called one of his chickens Emmanuel because “Emmanuel Sanders has those chicken legs”!

  7. They lost a great DC this year and if you don’t think that is going to show then you don’t know FOOTBALL. The biggest question on this team besides the QB is the new coaches and how they are going to change this team, because you better believe that they are going to change this team and that could have a negative impact on the team.

  8. Yeah, Von is such a good guy. That’s why he got caught tampering with a drug test, thereby increasing his suspension. After his little episode the proctocol was changed.
    Yeah, he’s a real good guy.

  9. That “good guy” lost his license to a DUI and then got caught speeding while driving without a license.

  10. Amazing, three quarters of the commenters on Denver articles are NE fans. Fear Denver much? LOL

    Trashing a star player for whatever they can dream up. How about those fans delve into how many times the Pats have been investigated/punished by the NFL for “flexing” the rules instead.

  11. Nofoolnodrool says:
    Jul 20, 2017 11:59 AM
    pointtwopsiistheissue says:
    Jul 20, 2017 10:49 AM
    Yeah, Von is such a good guy. That’s why he got caught tampering with a drug test, thereby increasing his suspension. After his little episode the proctocol was changed.
    Yeah, he’s a real good guy.

    17 12
    Report comment

    Coming from a Patriot fan…..please! Brady is a much bigger fraud than Von Miller.

    I must congratulate the commenter for making his whine sound real thru his words. Ice up you little snowflake.

    0 0
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  12. willycents- dude, the Patriots are not scared of the Donkeys. that is laughable

    No Fool- just stop old man. please stop.

  13. Way too low. The Broncs were 9-7 last season and improved this offseason with the draft and free agency, and still have one of the two best defenses in the NFL…but then we heard the same stuff all throughout the Super Bowl run too. The Broncos critics have no credibility.

  14. straighcashhomey says:
    Jul 20, 2017 1:32 PM
    willycents- dude, the Patriots are not scared of the Donkeys. that is laughable

    No Fool- just stop old man. please stop.

    2 0
    Report comment

    Not a chance sonny! You tools like that can’t handle the truth are just Whiny snowflakes.

    Willycents great and truthful post.

  15. I was thinking 15 was about right. 12 – which would imply a playoff team seems a bit high. They didn’t make the playoffs last year, QB is a question mark, and basically the entire coaching staff has turned over. On top of that they have one of, if not THE most difficult schedules in the league this year.

    Yes, their defense has the necessary pieces to excel, but somebody has to put those pieces together in the right order. Maybe their o-line and running game will improve, but it’s really not wise to count on “improvements on paper”.

  16. Denver will be lucky to finish 8-8. Great defense, highly suspect offense (especially at QB), and they lost Wade Phillips. Too many ifs.

  17. New England fans being afraid of Denver is a complete joke. They have no chance against them, and will be lucky to beat out SD for last place, who lost a lot of close gms and had a great offseason.

  18. Pats fans are so fragile. It is adorable, in its awkward way.

    It won’t take much offense to win games for this team. The defense can provide plenty of short fields, they just need to capitalize here and there and try to give their D some rest.

    Looking at the Seahawks, Broncos, Panthers, Patriots, really only Atlanta has made the SB recently with a poor D. Denver’s D justifies a top-15 ranking even if their offense was worst in the league.

  19. So a Denver fan thinks Denver lost to the Pat’s because the offense stunk, well the Pat’s did finish with the number one defense!! The stat that according to coach Bill is the one that counts the most. Allowing the LEAST points!

  20. If the Broncos can score a touchdown more per game than last year, they will return to the playoffs. If they attain 10 points or more per game over last year, they will win the Super Bowl. I am hopeful they can improve at least a touchdown more, due to a less predictable offense, improved line play (more experienced line coach helps) and with more speed. I anticipate the QB will at least be slightly improved with a year under his belt. If Siemian is beaten out by Lynch, then he should also be playing at a similar or higher level than Siemian gave last year. Of course, this still has to be carried out on the field.

  21. Vance Joseph’s strength is defense and he has inherited a top defense so that should not be an issue.

    The Broncos are in a tough division and their Quarterback is a question mark-he could be good-he could be quite ordinary. And I don’t even know which He I am referring to.

    9-7 or 10-6. Something like that. And injuries to KC and Oakland will be key also.

  22. Denver loses the head coach who led them to two Super Bowls, loses arguably the best DC of the last 20 years, has no franchise QB in a division where every other team does have one, and has a rookie head coach, yet is still top 12?

    Uh-uh. This is going to be an odd year for Denver. Strong defense, pretty good otherwise, yet last in the division and missing the playoffs again.

  23. This Bronco fan, having read all the above, is grateful for the wisdom. Now we can bypass the games and spend the season on the ski slopes.

  24. kevpft says:
    Jul 22, 2017 9:55 PM

    Denver loses the head coach who led them to two Super Bowls, loses arguably the best DC of the last 20 years..


    Fox was the HC in 2013, not Kubiak.

    One could make arguments that Kubiak and Phillips actually hurt them last year.

    The offense has been abysmal since Kubiak got to Denver. The ZBS isn’t dead (ATL, SEA) but Kubiak’s version seems archaic at times.

    Phillips has a proven track record as a DC where his 1st year is his best and declines after that.

    In my opinion, Kubiak’s greatest strength is leading men. He lost control of the locker room to some degree.

    Belichick said it best before playing Denver last year. “It’s the same plays in Houston (when Kubiak was the coach), the same plays in Baltimore, the same plays in Denver when (Mike) Shanahan was there,” Belichick said. “It’s the same plays now. It’s the same plays. The same as when Wade (Phillips) was in Denver, when Wade was in Buffalo, when Wade was in Dallas, when Wade was in Houston.”

    I’m a Bronco fan and love these guys, but something needed to change.

  25. magebfd says:
    Jul 25, 2017 5:45 PM
    The Super Bowl 52 Champions* will come out of the AFC West as the worst team in the division.
    fixed it for you.

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