QB Peyton Manning and his brigade of talented receivers destroyed the offensive record book last season. They grabbed each record by its romanticized bosom, defiled it, called it a cab and never spoke to it again. They put up offensive numbers that we may never see again in our lifetimes, yet at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough.
So, what did we learn from the 2013-14 Denver Broncos? I think we learned that the defense was flat-out tired.
The Broncos were eighth in total drives in 2013-14. The seven teams with more possessions all had fewer number of yards per drive, yet the Broncos possessed the ball for nearly the same amount of time as those seven teams on each possession. Combine this with the fact that the Broncos had almost half of a point more per possession than the next closest team, you can see that they scored fast and often. And, of course, that means that their defense was sent back onto the field often and without adequate rest.
This is clearly not a blueprint that this season’s Broncos want to emulate. John Elway did an incredible job bolstering the defensive side of the ball through free agency, and it wouldn’t be wise to put them through the same rigors as last year’s defense.
The Broncos need to be equally efficient in terms of converting possessions into touchdowns, but sustaining long drives will become even more important. This means that Montee Ball will become an absolutely critical component of this year’s offense, as he will be key to converting third-down situations.
Wes Welker will become even more integral than he was a year ago as well, and Broncos draft pick Cody Latimer needs to accelerate his learning curve, as both will be depended on as possession receivers.
I’m not saying that the hurry-up offense doesn’t have its place in the Broncos’ system, but it may not be necessary on every drive. Slow down the pace, let the defense catch their breath and do everything you can to put a well-rested defense back on the field.
Sure, the NFL has become a quarterback-driven league, and most of the rules are rigged to favor the passing game, but it was the ball-control offense and ferocious defense of the Seattle Seahawks that landed them the Lombardi Trophy.
The Broncos would be wise to take a page out of their book, and slow down the pace while doing everything they can to maintain their efficiency. You know what they say: happy defense, happy life. OK, maybe that’s not the saying, but you get the idea.