Originally written on Down and Distance  |  Last updated 10/29/14
It was one of the biggest off-season stories this year; where will Peyton Manning go? Well, as we all know he ended up in Denver, and then the Broncos shipped Tim Tebow to the New York Jets. The excitement in Denver is as much, if not more, than when the Broncos had John Elway as their quarterback and rightfully so,. They got a new face for the franchise, and if he stays healthy they can honestly be a team that will be hard to beat, or will they? Peyton Manning Manning is Manning when healthy and we know what we are going to get out of him. He is arguable the best pocket passer in the history of the game and also brings an element that few other quarterbacks can bring to the game; leadership. His leadership skills on and off the field cannot be matched, and he is a perfectionist, which Denver needed the most. The Broncos and their fans are putting so much in Peyton that they are forgetting about everything else. Wide-receiver Eric Decker is coming off an ACL tear, will he be the same? Even if he is, Decker struggled in a basic passing offense last year. Demaryius Thomas, the other “stud” receiver can play, but he is not as reliable as he needed to be. Remember last year in the Chicago game; Tebow hit him with a perfect long ball, and he dropped it. He had many chances to make great plays, and he just couldn’t finish them. Will this change this season? Only time will tell, but as a Bronco fan, there are other pieces to the puzzle that the front office seemed to forget when they signed Manning.
What about their defense? The Broncos forgot about the defense, more specificly their defensive lineman, you know the position that you must have not only talented players, but depth in. Ryan McBean, Brodrick Bunkleyand Marcus Thomas were lost via free agency. Thomas is still a free agent, and Denver must sign him. However, for the other two they loss some run stoppers, and depth to that position. The reason, well one of many, the Broncos lost to the Patriots was because they had no pass rush. They needed to add more talent to their defensive line, and they failed to do so. Their secondary took a hit losing Brian Dawkins to retirement, and Andre’ Goodman via free agency. A lot of people were happy to see Goodman leave, but I remember him making a few big interceptions to either help the Broncos come back and win, or seal a victory, most notably the Jets and Vikings game. Last season the Broncos relied on their defense to keep games close and let Tebow do his thing, well with these holes on the defensive side it will be a different story. Manning is going to be expected to score at least 24 points a game. There are some new weapons on offense and defense, but it will take some time to adjust to each other and the coaches. Regardless of who is on this team, the Broncos play an extremely hard schedule playing divisional champions and playoff teams. When the Broncos barely won the division, that made the No.1 team in the West, which in turn made the schedule to play other playoff teams, like their week one opponent, Pittsburg Steelers. Don’t forget, the Broncos do not have the best offensive coordinator. He will need to make perfect calls for Manning and the offense and I fully expect Manning to let the calls come in from the sideline, but slowly and eventually change them to his liking. He did that in Indianapolis and there will be no difference in Denver. Coach John Fox is a defensive mind, so it will be Manning and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy making those decisions. Lastly, Manning’s neck will be the most talked about neck in all of football. When he takes his first hit, he will be watched by everyone in the world. If he does go down with injury, expect Denver to struggle even more. His back ups are Caleb Hanie and rookie Brock Osweiler. As a Bronco fan if the possibility of those guys coming in doesn’t make you want to rub your head in doubt, I don’t know what will. Manning cannot get hurt, because a solid back is not in place in Denver. You would think that the Broncos front office would have learned from the Colts and look at what Hanie threw away for the Bears last year. He could not even muster a win against anyone, and in fact, they lost to Kansas City 10-3, and the Chiefs beat them with a hail Mary. Even with all the excitement for the upcoming season the Broncos and especially their fans need to realize what is reality and what is a dream. I fully expect the Broncos to compete for a title next season, but for this year good luck getting eight wins. Follow us on Twitter @downanddistance, and me personally @cbbatchelder
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