6 Keys For Denver Broncos To Become An Elite Team
Six Things the Denver Broncos Must Do to Become an Elite Team
The Denver Broncos have been struggling to become the elite team that they expected to be when they went out and added several free agents including future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning. Expectations are high from the coaching staff, players and fans, but so far the Broncos have recorded a 2-3 record and haven’t looked like an elite team quite yet.
They have victories against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders, but have lost to the Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots in games where they were down by several touchdowns and made late runs to make the contests close.
I believe that the Broncos are very close to taking the next step and becoming an elite NFL team as early as this season, but if it’s going to happen there are six areas in which they must improve immediately or at least by the time their bye week is over.
The Broncos need to improve their run defense. They started the season looking much improved from a year ago, but here lately it is starting to fall apart. The corners must step up their game and become the true shutdown, man-to-man coverage guys that they are capable of being.
The Broncos’ front seven must apply frequent pressure early and often on opposing quarterbacks. Denver must find a No. 2 RB that can complement Willis McGahee and play a prominent role on third down.
The Broncos must play better in the first half and become a solid four-quarter team.
During their bye week, the Broncos will need to fix these areas if they are to become an elite team by the end of this season and make a serious run in the playoffs.
Run Defense Can't Keep Slacking
The Broncos’ run defense started the season looking much improved from a year ago, by slowing down Steelers RB Isaac Redman, Falcons RB Michael Turner and allowing Texans RB Arian Foster to rush for just over 100 yards, but here lately it is starting to fall apart.
The Broncos recently allowed the Patriots over 200 yards rushing and RB Stevan Ridley had a career-best 151 yards during that game.
If the Broncos want to be elite they will have to get back to playing run defense the way they started this season.
The defense has been without star LB DJ Williams the whole season and he is not expected back until Week 11, but there is still plenty of talent left in the front seven to get the job done.
Cornerbacks Must Keep Playing Great Man-to-Man Coverage
The Broncos have had one of the best shut down corners in the game for a while in Champ Bailey and they added Tracy Porter during free agency to shut down the other side of the field opposite of Bailey.
So far the Broncos have been decent in the secondary, but have allowed too many big plays.
The Broncos’ secondary has been a lot better than in previous years, but they must continue to play great man-to-man coverage with their corners to allow their pass rush enough time to get to opposing quarterbacks and prevent big pass plays.
Pass Rush Must Keep Pressure On Opposing QB
The Broncos must keep as much pressure on opposing quarterbacks as possible. Tight man-to-man coverage by the corners and pass rushers getting to the quarterback quickly will result in short completions at best.
The Broncos have two of the best pass rushers in the NFL with LB Von Miller and DE/LB Elvis Dumervil. Miller has 5.0 sacks on the season and Dumervil has 3.0 while the Broncos have 14 sacks total.
With great pass coverage by the corners and a steady pass rush, the Broncos should be able to play solid defense the rest of the season.
Broncos Need No. 2 RB To Help Willis McGahee Read
The Broncos rank in the middle of the NFL in rushing offense this season and RB Willis McGahee has been very productive, but if the Broncos want to be a great running football team, they need to find a No. 2 back that is capable of producing on the ground, in the air and blocking on passing downs.
Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno are the best choices to fill this need, but neither of the two has proven to be very productive.
To be elite, the Broncos must get one of these guys to step up and be a good complement to McGahee and provide the team with a pass-catching back who can also block on third downs.
McGahee can be a four-down back, but elite teams always have another runner who can spell the No. 1 guy.
First Half Struggles Must End
The Broncos have played much better in the second halves of games than they have in first halves so far this season.
In all three of the Broncos’ losses, they have been well behind at halftime and have fought back and played well enough in the second half that they have made the games close.
It’s obvious that the Broncos are able to go in at the half and put together a game plan that works much better than the plan they had to start the game. But If the Broncos want to be elite they need to have a better game plan ready at the beginning of these contests. If they are able to do this and still make the needed adjustments at halftime then they will be an elite team sooner rather than later.
Broncos Must Make These Adjustments During Bye Week
The Broncos’ season is already going fast and furious and there is not much time to make these adjustments if they want this season to be a real success. The best time to work on these areas and try making the needed adjustments will be during their bye in Week 7.
They play the San Diego Chargers this week and hopefully they are able to manage a win and go into the bye week with a 3-3 record.
After the bye, we will need to see a Broncos team that plays better against the run, continues great coverage and pass rush, finds a No. 2 back to spell McGahee in certain situations and plays a complete game.
If everything comes together, I believe the Broncos can be considered an elite team as early as Week 8 when they play the New Orleans Saints.