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5 strengths and weaknesses for the Denver Broncos heading into the 2021-2022 season 

Las Vegas Raiders v Denver Broncos
Las Vegas Raiders v Denver Broncos
Bethany Cohen
ANALYST

The Denver Broncos were the weakest team in the AFC West in 2020 and finished last with a 5-11 record. For as much promise as quarterback Drew Lock has shown over the years, he and the team fell short last season. There was also a game in late November 2020, when, due to COVID-19, the Broncos were left without a starting quarterback.

The Broncos now have a lingering quarterback competition in training camp. They also have other decisions to make before the 2021 NFL season officially begins. But what makes the Broncos good, and what is keeping them from showing their full potential?

5 Weaknesses for the Denver Broncos

#1 - Quarterback Situation

The Broncos traded for Teddy Bridgewater from the Carolina Panthers this offseason. The Denver Broncos even seemed interested in trading for Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers but have made no progress on that front.

The Broncos now have Bridgewater and Drew Lock. While Bridgewater brings experience and talent to the quarterback room, the Broncos could still acquire a quarterback before the season starts.

But by trading for Bridgewater, the Broncos have shown that they lack confidence in Lock. But if Lock is named the starting quarterback after training camp, it will show that the team doesn't have much faith in Bridgewater. Either way, it will cause a distraction in training camp that may hinder the entire team.

#2 - Offensive Line

Garett Bolles had a shaky start to his NFL career due to injuries. The Broncos even declined the fifth-year option on Bolles' contract before the 2020 season. But last season, he proved why the Broncos drafted him in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft and was an integral part of the offensive line. The team re-signed him to a four-year, $68 million contract extension this offseason.

The Broncos lost Ja'wuan James to an offseason injury, and he was subsequently cut from the team. The Broncos did re-sign tackle Calvin Anderson, who played in two games last season.

Regardless of which quarterback is under center, they are likely to have difficulty behind the Broncos' offensive line.

#3 - Not Utilizing K.J. Hamler

K.J. Hamler was a standout kick and punt returner as well as wide receiver at Penn State. Although he may have made the jump to the NFL a season too early, he was still highly rated in pre-draft projections and the Broncos drafted him in the second round.

Hamler was known as the "human joystick" for his ability to maneuver around opposing defenses and special teams. But the Broncos haven't used Hamler as well as they should have.

Diontae Spencer is the primary returner for the Broncos and is quite effective. But adding Hamler to the mix, with his speed and talent and on the offense, would add another dimension to it.

#4 - Losing RB Phillip Lindsay

Running back Phillip Lindsay made a splash in the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2018, rushing for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. In 2019, Lindsay rushed for over 1,000 yards again and seven touchdowns. In 2020, his production went down due to injury and he ran for just over 500 yards.

The Broncos placed a restricted, right-of-first-refusal tender on Lindsay, but the two sides never agreed upon a contract extension, making him a free agent. He later signed with the Texans. Losing Lindsay and not adding another running back will hinder the Broncos' offensive unit.

#5 - The inability to beat the Kansas City Chiefs

The Broncos have lost 11-straight games against division rival Kansas City Chiefs. They haven't scored a victory over the Chiefs since 2015, although they were competitive and came close in 2020.

To be competitive and be a contender in the AFC West, the Broncos need to find a way to get at least one win in their two games against the Chiefs.

5 Strengths for the Denver Broncos

#1 - Secondary

The Denver Broncos' secondary is one of the best in the National Football League.

The team is stacked at the corner position. Last season Bryce Callahan, A.J. Bouye and Michael Ojemudia were three of the top outside corners in the league. Callahan will now move inside after the Broncos picked Patrick Surtain II in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

The team also has Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons, who are among the top two safeties in the NFL.

#2 - The return of Von Miller

Outside linebacker and one of the Broncos' best pass rushers, Von Miller, missed the entire 2020 season with an ankle injury that he suffered in practice just before Week 1.

Now that Miller is healthy once again, the Broncos will have that force off the edge they were missing in 2020.

#3 - Drafting Patrick Surtain II

Many Broncos fans were disappointed after the team drafted Patrick Surtain II in the first round with the ninth overall pick.

While some fans are still upset that the team passed on drafting a quarterback, the addition of Surtain to the roster gives the secondary another elite cornerback on the outside and makes the defense even more potent.

Surtain could quickly become a fan favorite if he can perform at the same level that he did in college.

#4 - WR Tim Patrick

The 2020 season was a breakout season for wide receiver Tim Patrick. He surpassed all of his and the team's expectations.

In 15 games, he had 742 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Playing on a second-round tender for the 2021 season should motivate Patrick even more this upcoming season.

#5 - Kicker Brandon McManus

Like most NFL players, Brandon McManus had a few challenging stretches in 2020. In one game, he missed two of his four extra-point attempts. But since signing with the Denver Broncos in 2012, he has made 82.4% of field goals and 88.9% of his extra points attempts.

In 2020, McManus made a career-long 58-yard field goal. He signed a four-year, $17.2 million contract extension last season.


Edited by Jay Lokegaonkar

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