Hello Broncos fans, happy Friday.
Too often this off season I’ve heard the same played out narrative: the Broncos are in ‘win now mode’ and their ‘last chance’ at a Super Bowl is in 2015. For instance, in Jeff Legwold’s article entitled, “Broncos Want to Always be in Win-Now Mode”, he writes:
The win-now narrative is always something that raises Elway’s hackles, despite the fact he is the guy who oversaw the Broncos’ spending spree that essentially created the narrative for a lot of those asking about it.
“For me I haven’t played in a playoff game, that’s why I came here,’’ said safety T.J. Ward, one of the marquee signings for the Broncos this past offseason. “ … I think you go into it like another game, but you know you’re going to feel differently because it’s like win or go home. That’s urgency. You’re not trying to win because of next year, you’re trying to win because this is the game right now.’’
Most of the discussion about a championship window revolves around 38-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning is in his 17th season overall, his third with the Broncos, and his contract runs for two more seasons after this one.
While I actually generally agree with Legwold, he could not be more wrong about this issue. Elway has in fact set up a team to “win from now on”, and has practiced what he’s preached. Here are my three reasons why Denver has dynastic potential, and will compete for the foreseeable future.
Elway has made moves that a true ‘win now’ team would not make. For instance, would a team in win now mode use a high pick on a quarterback who would not be able to play for another 5 years or so? Oz wasn’t drafted to be a contributor in that apparently small title window. He was drafted to extend that title window long after Manning.
Considering that Dubs already broke down Oz’s potential better than I, or any one else possibly could, I’ll keep my gushing about Osweiler to a minimum. He looks better each time I see him step on the field. He is a charismatic leader who is beloved by his teammates. Sure, I didn’t love what I saw in preseason his first two seasons, but he was 20 and 21 respectively. Now, he is likely going to get to step onto the field as a starter for the first time as a 25 year old with 5 seasons learning from a Hall of Fame player already under his belt. With his unbelievable arm, decent accuracy, great footwork, lighting quick release and plus football IQ, he should be fun to watch. Considering that, in my opinion, we have a likely franchise quarterback going forward, I see no reason why we cannot continue to compete.
Denver is set up for the future at other positions as well. Let’s consider the age of the projected starting lineup:
- Peyton Manning (39)
- C.J. Anderson (24)
- James Casey (30)
- Demaryius Thomas (27)
- Emmanuel Sanders (28)
- Owen Daniels (32)
- Virgil Green (26)
- Ty Sambrailo (23)
- Ben Garland (27)
- Gino Gradkowski (26)
- Louis Vasquez (28)
- Chris Clark (29)
- Derek Wolfe (25)
- Sylvester Williams (26)
- Malik Jackson (25)
- Von Miller (26)
- Brandon Marshall (25)
- Danny Trevathan (25)
- DeMarcus Ware (32)
- Chris Harris Jr. (26)
- Aqib Talib (29)
- Bradley Roby (23)
- Darian Stewart (26)
- T.J. Ward (28)
Do those ages give the appearance of a win now, screw the future type of team? That roster is made up of 8 starters in or entering their primes (C.J., Demaryius, Sanders, Vasquez, Miller, Marshall, Harris Jr., and Ward), 6 high potential young starters (Green, Sambrailo, Sly, Malik, Trevathan and Roby) and 3 solid young starters (Garland, Wolfe, Stewart). That is all to just 4 players over 30. The average age of this lineup is 27.2, and if you take out the outlier, Manning, you come to 26.7. That sounds like win from now on to me.
Also, consider this. At each of our positions where we have starters over 30 (QB, FB, TE, an ROLB) Elway has done an excellent job of picking up young future replacements. I already spoke about Osweiler, but young Juwan Thompson (23) is a talented back who can slide to fullback. In fact, speaking of running back, our oldest back projected to make the roster is 25 year old Ronnie Hillman. We also have talented 24 year old backup Montee Ball. At tight end, we have 22 year old 3rd round pick Jeff Heuerman. He won’t play this year, but I see the athleticism to take over for Owen Daniels in the near future. At outside linebacker we have pass rushing menace Shane Ray, who at 22 can take over for Ware as soon as need be. Elway has also made sure to find replacements for players with expiring deals, with Cody Latimer and Vance Walker as examples. The young depth is amazing across the board, and even if we lose a couple guys we have high potential players waiting for a shot.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) June 19, 2015
The Broncos’ also obviously have the organizational strength and coaching to keep this team focused going forward. Elway is one of the league’s best GMs, while Kubes is a focused strategist who keeps a locker room under control. Assuming that Elway doesn’t suddenly become terrible at what he’s been doing best, I don’t see why we should stop competing.
In many ways, the analysts are right; this is a team with the ability to win now. The talent, both young and veteran, is great across the board. The young depth waiting in the wings however is talented enough to carry this team into contention in 2016 and beyond.
How do you think this team will do post-Manning?
In Elway we trust, go Broncos.