On the heels of two consecutive basement finishes in the AFC West, the new-look Denver Broncos enter 2022 with massive expectations. With a banner of optimism raised following the addition of potential Canton-bound quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason, newly minted head coach Nathaniel Hackett will look to provide an immediate guiding voice for a roster looked upon for some time as a “quarterback away” from competing for a title.
With Wilson in the building, the Broncos have entered an entirely new stratosphere when projecting their potential win-loss total this fall. A Super Bowl champ and a Pro Bowler in all but one of his 10 seasons played in the league, Wilson’s addition—if all comes to fruition—could be the most impactful transaction from what was one of the most chaotic offseasons in NFL history. A leader both inside the hashes and inside the locker room for what will remain one of the youngest rosters in football, there’s zero reason to doubt Wilson won’t be able to transfer his success from Seattle to Denver with talent in abundance at every skill position.
With an offense littered with impact athletes from the backfield to the perimeter, Denver touts one of the deepest offensive cores despite the loss of Noah Fant—who was sent to Seattle in the Wilson trade. Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, K.J. Hamler, Albert Okwuegbunam, first-year man Greg Dulcich, the names go on and on. For Wilson, despite the onslaught of success he enjoyed with the Seahawks, 2022 will see him surrounded by the most talent he’s ever had the chance to work with. Add in the offensive architectural mastership of Hackett, who enjoyed three years of success with Aaron Rodgers, and the Broncos could be cooking with gas from the get-go in what will be a wire-to-wire sprint to the top of the AFC West.
On defense, the unit starts at the roof with Justin Simmons and 2021 first-rounder Pat Surtain II. One of the most dominant corners as a rookie last fall, if his debut tenure was a sign of things to come, a slew of All-Pro nods look to be in the cards as the years wear on. Simmons, a 28-year-old talent who blossomed over the last few campaigns, is the straw that stirs a defense that could once again rank among the league’s elite. Entering year two of his sparkling four-year, $61M extension, as Simmons goes, the Broncos follow, and a pair of pass rushers up front could make life all that easier on a well-rounded secondary this fall.
While Bradley Chubb’s 2018 rookie campaign saw him burst onto the scene totaling 12.5 sacks, the trio of seasons that have followed has been relatively disappointing with limited availability affecting his ability to rush the passer. Just 25 starts combined since 2019 have seen him amass just 8.5 sacks combined. While the presence of Von Miller assisted his ability to work in advantageous 1-on-1 matchups at the start of his career, the spotlight remains on the former No. 5 overall pick to kick into gear with former Dallas Cowboy Randy Gregory set to start opposite this season. With those two sack artists whose primary call to action will be to push the pocket all season long, along with 2022 second-round selection Nik Bonitto also expected to be thrown into the fold, Denver owns an enticing trio of athletes to make life difficult for any opposing signal-caller they face.
A unit primed to compete for a divisional crown this fall, if Wilson is able to hit the ground running against his former club in Week 1, the sky’s the limit for a Broncos roster budding with talent on both sides of the ball. By no means is an AFC title trip an expectation in Hackett’s first season, but if Denver is able to catch lightning in a bottle, who knows just how good the Broncos could prove to be in 2022.
- Aug 08, 2022
- Aug 08, 2022