2019 NFL Power Rankings:
No. 24 Denver Broncos
A Hall of Fame quarterback should understand the type of player you need under center, right? That's a question reserved for Broncos general manager John Elway. Watching him struggle to land consistently competent quarterback-play sucks on the eyes. Besides a few glorious years at the end of Peyton Manning’s career, Elway's list of starting signal-callers resembles football’s version of TLC’s “No Scrubs.” Drumroll, please. Since 2011, the year Elway filled Denver's GM position, God aka Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian and Case Keenum have started a combined 71 games. Yuck. So what did a fed up, multi-Super Bowl-winning legend do to alleviate problems at the head of the snake? Traded a fourth-round pick for a 34-year-old Joe Flacco, who went out sad in Baltimore, where he was replaced by Vick 2.0 aka Lamar Jackson and drafted Drew Lock, who possesses a 12-gauge strapped to his right arm but could end up being more Ryan Mallett than Matt Stafford. It isn’t glamorous, but it’s a start.
Flacco won’t be without artillery in the Broncos’ offense, something he lacked during his final few years with the Ravens. Pro Bowl wideout Emmanuel Sanders should still stretch the field, but is 32 and coming off an Achilles tear. Second-year pass catchers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton are big-bodied ballers primed to physically punish cornerbacks. Elway solved the problems at right tackle after dropping a hefty bag on a stud in Ju'Wuan James. And the team's running-back room consists of undrafted Pro Bowler Phillip Lindsay and the bruising Royce Freeman. Not a shabby group.
Last year, Vic Fangio orchestrated a Bears D that ranked in the top-5 in total defense, rush defense and takeaways. At 61, the first-time head man stands as the league’s fifth-oldest coach and commands respect from the game’s brightest minds. "[Fanigo] does so many things with his personnel groupings that he puts you in a bind with protections," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told ESPN. "He ties a lot of stuff together. Playing against him, I feel he packages stuff very similar to how I would think. [Bill] Belichick is very similar. They do it in a different style. You know they don't just run their defenses." In the Mile High City, Fangio inherits a unit that boasts the league's best edge rusher in Von Miller, a second-year beast in Bradley Chubb, Pro Bowl defensive back Chris Harris and ball-hawking safety Justin Simmons. Sign a Fangio led defense for another year at the top. Who needs music at practice when the pads are thumpin’ like 808s?
Offensive Players to Watch: DaeSean Hamilton, Courtland Sutton, Joe Flacco, Royce Freeman, Connor McGovern
Defensive Players to Watch: Todd Davis, Kareem Jackson, Will Parks, Shelby Harris
Verdict: This isn't a bad team by any means. There up against hurdles Super Bowl contenders don’t find familiar. The Broncos feature a first-year head coach, an unknown quarterback situation and a division loaded with two much-improved playoff teams from a year ago (Chiefs and Chargers) and a Raiders roster loaded with talent. 7-9.