Denver Broncos win the NFL offseason
Denver Broncos win the NFL offseason
There are a few teams that did just fine in the NFL offseason, picking up players to fill their holes on the rosters. But now the free agent market has dwindled down from a plethora of good looking talent, to the red headed step-children leftovers. If a team has not improved with free agent players at this point, they will have to wait for the NFL draft for team enhancements. More patience is required with the draft method as there is a vast difference in grabbing up a veteran NFL baller and getting a green horn fresh off the college landscape.
So who had the best off season performance regarding free agency? I would have to say that the Denver Broncos are at the top of that list. I cannot name another NFL team that addressed more needs than the Mile High residents. They not only filled voids on their team, they upgraded from what they had prior to free agency this year. Their defense in particular should be much improved when September rolls around to kick off the 2014 season. The offense will look much like it did last season. After all, if it ain’t broke, then do not fix it. They did replace the departed Eric Decker with Emmanuel Sanders from Pittsburgh. That is pretty much a lateral move with Sanders being a bit quicker.
One non player signing of note was a big catch. Head coach John Fox signed his name to a three year deal. Fox is a great coach and a steady man to steer the Broncos team in the right direction. Although he had a health scare in 2013, he looks to be back on track. These NFL coaches work themselves to the bone and sometimes it catches up with them. It is a good thing they are surrounded by great trainers and medical personnel much of the time. These guys are tough too, so it is hard to kill them evidently. Fox has taken a Carolina team to the Super Bowl and was barely defeated by a Patriot team that was on a roll back then. He now has taken a Tim Tebow led Broncos team to a playoff win and also put Denver in a Super Bowl with Manning behind center. That is a nice resume for any coach in the NFL.
Speaking of Manning, no one knows how long he will continue to play the game. If his neck holds up, then it could be four more years before he leaves the game. He rarely gets hit so I can see him staying upright for another few seasons. If however, he were to get another Lombardi Trophy, then he might want to ride off into the sunset. That story book ending could persuade the guy to hang it up and start buying up Papa John’s stock, in a hostile takeover type maneuver.
The defense, which should have been a solid unit, just was not up to snuff. The Super Bowl was a glaring example of that fact for the world to see. Seattle just ran rough shot over the Denver defense. Fortunately for Broncos fans, John Elway does not play around. He went out and got some major talent to stop any such future blowouts. Old #7 got three of the top names available in all of free agency. T.J. Ward, DeMarcus Ware, and Aqib Talib were all snatched up by Denver very early in the off season. Elway knows the time is now, not in five years. They have been at the top of the league for the past two seasons and he knows those opportunities do not endure for very many seasons in a row. You have to strike while the iron is hot and while Manning is still on the roster.
DeMarcus Ware is not a kid anymore and that is why Dallas could not stomach his salary for the upcoming season. Do not think he is washed up, however. He still has some gas in the tank, he just was not worth all that money he was due in Dallas. Ware will be paired with Von Miller as a pass rushing duo, maybe the best in the NFL. Who knows how they shall be used, but with talent like that, the x’s and o’s are not as important. Talented guys make the schemes seem brilliant. These two QB eaters are very good at causing turnovers, which will help the Denver offense even more. Ware’s presence alone could be the difference between a top rated defense and one that is a liability.
Now we get to the defensive secondary signings of T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib. I truly believe that the Patriots are going to regret letting Talib get away. I know they got Darrelle Revis, but if they could have figured a way to have Talib with Revis, they would have been a lock to get to the Super Bowl. Talib is one of the top three DBs in the entire league, so he and T.J. Ward should shut down most passing attacks. Ward is not as high profile as Talib and Revis, but he is a solid player who has had a nice career so far. The pair will benefit from the pass rush that I mentioned earlier. In turn, the pass rushers will be assisted by the two new defensive backs who know how to lock down receivers. Overall, the Broncos defense is set to dominate in 2014.
We can never tell how a team will gel when new pieces are added. Anything can happen, but from the outside looking in, I would bet on Denver to at least make it back to the big dance. Whether they can make it over the hump or not, is the ultimate question. Elway has done his job, now it will be on the team to perform as it has the talent to do. The coaches also have to combine all the talent in a cohesive manner that results in wins. They have the right guy in charge of that for the next three years, in John Fox, so the time is right for Denver to get over the hump.