The first season of former Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson with the Denver Broncos did not go well. Now comes in offensive-minded coach Sean Payton, so perhaps that partnership can take the Broncos to the next level. Denver defied the NFL picks for all the wrong reasons during a five-win season and there is a chance to turn things around heading into 2023.
The additions of offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, guard Ben Powers and receiver Marquez Callaway, who played for Payton in New Orleans, could help an offense that scored the fewest points in the AFC.
When looking at the NFL odds, Wilson is 13th in the odds to win the NFL Most Valuable Player award.
Top Training Camp Storyline
The health of running back Javonte Williams will be a key for the Denver offense. Latavius Murray, the Broncos’ leading rusher in 2022, is now with the Buffalo Bills. Second-leading rusher Melvin Gordon is a free agent while Chase Edmonds and Mike Boone are also gone.
The NFL spreads have Williams in the running for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and the Broncos hope that is not the only award he is in contention for. Williams ran for more than 900 yards as a rookie and it will be worth watching to see how he rebounds from the knee injury that limited him to four games during the 2022 season.
Samaje Perine was brought in from Cincinnati to provide some depth behind Williams. Having a strong running game will be important in rebuilding the offense so the hope is that Williams and Perine can form a productive 1-2 running back duo.
The first and second-round picks went to Seattle as part of last year’s trade for Wilson and that left Denver not picking until selecting receiver Marvin Mims out of Oklahoma.
Mims had five catches of at least 50 yards and averaged 20.7 yards for the Sooners in 2022. In the last three years, his average yards per catch was 19.5. Add in his potential as a punt returner and he could make an immediate impact as a rookie as he will add some speed on the outside in support of Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. Mims is listed by the sportsbook at +6000 in the odds to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Linebacker Drew Sanders, who had 103 tackles and 9½ sacks at Arkansas in 2022, and Iowa cornerback Riley Moss (11 career interceptions) were selected in the third round and they could help a team that allowed the fewest points in the AFC West a season ago.
Can’t wait to watch Drew Sanders play football next month pic.twitter.com/AtRVFi7RDE
— Michael 🇲🇽 (@RespectMyCos) July 2, 2023
Offseason Move that Turned Heads
Since the departure of Gary Kubiak, there have been a series of questionable coaching hires in Denver.
Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio and Nathaniel Hackett were a combined 34-62 while coaching the Broncos.
The Broncos went all in by trading multiple picks, including a first-round selection to New Orleans to bring in Payton. Payton led the Saints to five straight winning seasons before stepping away from the NFL after the 2021 season.
Payton brought in a new coaching staff and that included hiring Joseph as the defensive coordinator.
The Weakest Link
Wilson played in front of a porous offensive line late in his career with the Seattle Seahawks It was more of the same in his first season with the Broncos as Wilson was sacked 55 times.
Denver used free agency to bolster the offensive line. However, it remains to be seen how much improvement there is when it comes to giving Wilson more time to throw the ball. Part of the issue can be blamed on Wilson, but if the partnership between the quarterback and his pass protectors, this could be a much improved offensive unit.
It was a nightmarish season for Denver in 2022 as not only did Wilson struggle to get Denver’s offense rolling, his replacement (Geno Smith) in Seattle outperformed him,
The defense could be even better with the additions of Frank Clark and Zach Allen so if the offense can get going, this could be a team to keep an eye on during the 2023 season.
It will be a different story at some other positions so it will be worth watching to see how much playing time the projected starters see once the preseason games roll around.
Denver jumped right into division play by facing the Raiders in the season opener and in Week 6 comes a matchup with seven-time defending AFC West champion Kansas City, so it shouldn’t take long to figure out where Denver stands this season.
Denver Broncos Odds
Training Camp Info
- Coach: Sean Payton (first season with Broncos, 16th season as NFL coach)
- Training Camp Reporting Dates: July 19 (Rookies); July 25 (Veterans)
- First Preseason Game: Aug. 11, at Arizona
- Week 1: Sept. 10, Las Vegas
- Bye: Week 9