After an eventful offseason that saw the naming of a new head coach and a quarterback selection process worthy of "The Bachelor," the Broncos are ready for their first regular game of the season Monday night. And fans are hoping this year goes better than last, when the team finished 9-7, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Broncos Country has lots to think about with about the upcoming season. To answer some of their questions — and ours — we turned to Denver Post Broncos beat reporter Nick Kosmider.
Blake Scurto of Castle Rock asks: Who is the best quarterback option?
The Broncos have danced with more than a few QB contenders since Peyton Manning decided to take his Papa John’s commercial career full time in 2016. The decision came down to a choice between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, with Siemian ending up with the rose.
Every Broncos fan you talk to has an opinion about that choice. But Kosmider doesn’t see a controversy going on at Dove Valley.
“If you talk to the 53 other guys in that locker room, they’re all very confident in having Trevor Siemian as their quarterback,” he says.
Kosminder says the Broncos’ coaching staff is excited about the progress Siemian is making, especially considering it’s only his second year as an NFL starter. Last year, Siemian played through a lot of pain and struggled behind an offensive line that did not perform well as a unit. The running game also struggled, which impacts the quarterback’s job. But Kosmider says the Broncos have “worked hard to address those issues this year.”
If Siemian’s the QB, why’s everyone talking about this Brock Osweiler guy?
Osweiler won many hearts in Denver in 2015 by winning some big games while Peyton Manning was injured. The starting job was Osweiler’s to have after Manning retired, but he jumped ship for a huge contract with the Houston Texans, and has struggled since. After a bit of bouncing around, he re-signed with the Broncos this month.
“He said recently it was like when your mom tells you not to touch the hot stove,” Kosmider says of Osweiler’s decision to leave Denver. “As a kid, and your curiosity, you have to try it.”
Kosmider says bringing back Osweiler “makes sense” given his understanding of Denver’s offense under offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Broncos fans shouldn’t expect Osweiler to be the starter this season though. He’s expected to play behind Siemian and Paxton Lynch, who starts the season with an injury.
Please tell us, will the offense be better this year?
Kosmider thinks it will be. There are four new starters on the offensive line, featuring first round draft choice Garett Bolles from the University of Utah, and former Raiders tackle Menelik Watson. And the team’s running game will benefit from having a healthy C.J. Anderson on the field, and new pick-up, Jamaal Charles. Charles, Kosmider points out, is familiar to Denver fans “as a former Kansas City Chiefs running back who has had great games against the Broncos a lot of years.”
“The question is whether he’s fully healthy. He only played in one preseason game; looked really sharp in that game. But it’ll just be a matter of seeing him do it on the field (in the regular season).”
Will Adelle of Denver asks: “Why did we get rid of Ward?”
That’s T.J. Ward, the celebrated safety released by the Broncos at the beginning of the month. He’s since complained that Bronco’s management acted unprofessionally in cutting him. But Ward didn’t stay on the market long; he’ll start the season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“When the news first broke that the Broncos were going to potentially trade or release T.J. Ward, the fan (Adelle) had sort of the same sentiment as a lot of players in the locker room,” Kosmider says. “(Ward was) a very vital part in what has become one of the best, if not the best, defenses in the NFL. So it was hard for some of the teammates to understand.”
Ward was in his final year of a four-year contract and was owed $4.5 million. "Wanting some financial flexibility is part of it" says Kosmider of management's decision. But Ward has also been dealing with injuries and did not play the entire preseason and Kosmider believes the Broncos are feeling good about their future at the safety position, with Justin Simmons and Will Parks, who are seen as emerging stars.
“John Elway would not have made this move if he didn’t feel confident that they weren’t going to have a drop off in the secondary,” Kosmider says.
As long as outside linebacker Von Miller is still chasing quarterbacks around, Kosmider believes the team still has a very good defense, led by perhaps the best cornerback duo in football: Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. And Kosmider is hopeful that some moves the Broncos made in the offseason will result in a better defensive line, because that unit struggled to stop the run last year.
What can you tell us about new head coach Vance Joseph?
First and foremost, Joseph is a Colorado guy. He played football and coached the sport at the University of Colorado.
“He knows the state well,” Kosmider says. “He understands, I think, the fandom and I think the intensity that comes with being the coach of the Broncos because he’s seen it.”
Before taking the Broncos job, Joseph was a defensive coach for three NFL teams, including Houston, under former Broncos defensive guru Wade Phillips. Kosmider says players respond well to Joseph because of his “transparency.”
“He’s not a guy who will sugarcoat or tell players what they want to hear,” he says. “And he’s drawn a good reputation (as the) next up-and-coming head coach. And he became the first African-American head coach in Broncos history.”
Does Kosmider’s predict the Broncos make the playoffs?
Denver has a brutal schedule, with games against powerhouse teams like Dallas and New England, as well as having two cracks at divisional opponents like Oakland and Kansas City. The AFC West is arguably the toughest division in football.
Kosmider is feeling optimistic about the team; he predicts Siemian will improve in his second year, especially under offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, sees good changes in the offensive line, and believes the defense will remain an elite unit.
“I think the defense is too good and has too much pride to allow any kind of backslide,” he says.
When all is said and done, Kosmider thinks the Broncos will go 10-6 and earn a wild card spot in the playoffs.
The real question is, how do you, the fans, think the season will go?