I like what Denver’s doing. With the defense they’re putting together, that’s a team to watch.
Coaches matter, and on that side of the ball, they’ve got one of the best. Vic Fangio knows how to put together a solid defense. In each of the last two years, Denver has ranked No. 1 in red zone defense (with offenses scoring on fewer than half of their possessions each season), and neither of those defenses were as talented as what they’ve got now.
They didn’t have Von Miller at all last year; he’s back. And they had all kinds of problems at cornerback. Now they’ve drafted Patrick Surtain and signed Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, turning that position into a strength. When you’re drafting those AFC West quarterbacks – Mahomes, Herbert, Carr – you’ve got to factor in that they’ll be playing two games against the Broncos. (Not that those guys shouldn’t be drafted, but those two Denver games could affect their rankings when comparing them to another comparable quarterback.)
Denver has offensive issues to address, of course, but they’ve got some talented skill guys. Courtland Sutton will be back, and presumably Jerry Jeudy will be a notch better in his second year. Noah Fant (pictured) is an up-and-coming tight end, and Javonte Williams could upgrade them at running back.
Quarterback is key, and there are various possibilities there. Maybe Drew Lock gets a little better. Teddy Bridgewater is probably more likely to start most of their games, with his experience and a better feel for taking care of the ball.
Aaron Rodgers is the X factor. He wants out of Green Bay, and if he somehow shakes free, Denver will be by far the most likely landing spot.
Denver went only 5-11 last year, but when walking into drafts, this should be treated more like an 8-8 team. Looking at other teams that have gone 5-11 since 2000, 60 percent have finished with more wins, and over a quarter of those teams have finished with winning records. About 70 percent have scored more points.
In the chart below, you’re seeing the last 52 teams to finish 5-11 – the wins and points from the next season. If a team finished with fewer wins (got worse) it gets a black dot. If it scored fewer points, it gets a black dot. Collectively as a group, these teams averaged 6.8 wins the next year while averaging 34 more points (about 2 per game).
|5-11 TEAMS SINCE 2000 (the next year)|