The Denver Broncos need to end the team’s long-running quarterback carousel.
Is Teddy Bridgewater the man for the job?
The Broncos have had a different leading passer each of the last four seasons (Trevor Siemian in 2017, Case Keenum in 2018, Joe Flacco in 2019, and Drew Lock in 2020). Over that span, the team has finished in the bottom third of the league in scoring each year, which has led (as one might expect) to a losing record in every one of those seasons. That’s a far cry from the glory days of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks John Elway and Peyton Manning, to put it mildly.
Enter Bridgewater. Denver acquired the veteran from Carolina for a sixth-round draft pick this spring and officially named him QB1 over Lock heading into the team’s final preseason game. Bridgewater started 15 games for the Panthers last season, throwing for 3,733 yards and 11 interceptions to go with a career-high 15 touchdown passes. He has won just 26 of 49 career starts, but hopes to improve that percentage in the Mile High City and lead the Broncos to their first playoff berth since 2015.
Denver’s offense returns leading rusher Melvin Gordon III and a pair of receivers who had solid rookie seasons, wideout Jerry Jeudy and speedster KJ Hamler. On the other side of the ball, the Broncos need to improve drastically after allowing almost 28 points a game last year, the franchise’s worst defensive performance since 2010.
While familiar names such as longtime linebacker Von Miller and Pro Bowlers Bradley Chubb and Justin Simmons are back for another season, there will be quite a few new faces as well, including three highly regarded cornerbacks. The Broncos signed Ronald Darby from Washington and Kyle Fuller from Chicago to go along with No. 9 overall pick Patrick Surtain II. In all, Denver spent seven of its 10 draft picks in 2021 on defense, led by Surtain.
Will it pay off? The first few weeks of the season should tell the story; Denver needs to avoid getting off to another 0-3 start this fall. The schedule should help, as the Broncos will face three straight teams that finished below .500 (Giants, Jaguars, and Jets) in September.
October will be more difficult, with three games against playoff teams from the AFC North (Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, and at Cleveland). The Broncos’ toughest games will probably come against the five-time defending AFC West champion Chiefs: those matchups are slated for December 5 at Kansas City and the regular season finale January 9 in Empower Field at Mile High.
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