The window of opportunity to win a championship for the Denver Broncos is closing fast. Peyton Manning just turned 38-years-old, and it’s unknown how much more he has left in the tank to make a Super Bowl run.
Last season ended with one of the most embarrassing losses in Super Bowl history, with the Broncos losing 43-8 to the Seahawks.
Here are 5 questions for the Denver Broncos as training camp gets underway.
5. Can Montee Ball be a feature back?
The Broncos let Knowshon Moreno walk over the off-season, and not for very much. Moreno signed a 1-year $3 million dollar contract with the Dolphins following a career year. He had over twice as many carries, touchdowns, and nearly twice as many yards as any other player on the team. Now, Denver seems content with allowing Montee Ball to have the starting running back job. Ball will be entering his 2nd NFL season after tallying 120 carries and 559 yards last season. That was as the back-up, and he will now be expected to show he can be a feature back in the NFL. The Broncos will live and die with Peyton once again in 2014, but the pressure will be on for Ball to take advantage when his number is called.
4. Can DeMarcus Ware re-gain dominant form?
In John Elway’s attempt to revamp the Broncos defense, he signed 31-year-old DeMarcus Ware away from the Dallas Cowboys to a 3-year $30 million dollar deal. Ware though, will be 32 when the season begins, and he’s coming off the worst statistical season of his career. It was the first time since his rookie year he failed to record double-digit sack numbers, his 40 tackles were a career low, and he missed 3 games with a quad injury, the only 3 games he’s ever missed. As training camp opens, Ware is already dealing with what’s being called a “lower leg injury”. This is not good for the Broncos and the team better hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. When right, Ware is one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the sport.
3. What type of impact will T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib have on secondary?
As good as the Denver Broncos pass offense was in 2013, it ranked 1st in the NFL, the pass defense was equally as bad. The Broncos secondary allowed 254.4 pass yards per game, good for 5th worst in the league. While that number could be inflated because Denver always had big leads, it’s still a concern. In response, John Elway went out and brought in T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib to revamp the secondary. Talib is expected to replace Champ Bailey as Denver’s number 1 corner. Last season, Ward replaced Troy Polamalu to earn his first pro bowl appearance, and Talib had a very solid bounce back season with the Patriots. There could be some rough waters in Denver since Wes Welker took Talib out of last season’s AFC Championship game, and now the two players are teammates. If the Broncos expect to make another Super Bowl run, the pass defense must step-up its game big-time.
2. Does Peyton Manning have another elite season in him?
At the age of 37, Peyton Manning had arguably his best statistical season as a pro. He set numerous records including most passing yards in a season with 5,477, 55 touchdowns, 606 points, the most games with 4 or more touchdowns with 9, and he tied the NFL record for most 400-yard passing games and 50-point games. All that equaled Manning winning his 5th career MVP award. Entering 2014, Manning is now 38-years-old, and he’s not getting any younger. Based on how special his 2013 season was, it would be hard to think Peyton will have a sudden fall, but 38 is a hard age to still be an elite player in this league. Then again, Peyton continues to prove us all wrong.
1. Super Bowl blowout response?
The Denver Broncos represented the AFC in the Super Bowl last February, but the team failed to show up. The Broncos were embarrassed losing 43-8 at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. Denver’s loss was the 3rd largest margin of defeat in Super Bowl history. A source of hope for the Broncos are the San Antonio Spurs who responded brilliantly after losing the 2013 NBA Finals, to come back and win it all in 2014. If the Spurs can respond like that, the Broncos can believe they can do the same. In order for that to happen though, it’s going to take an immense amount of dedication and desire to win it all this season. Losing the Super Bowl and then coming back to win it the next season hasn’t happened since the Miami Dolphins in 1972.