Denver Broncos’ Last Season Performance
The Broncos had a tumultuous season in 2021. Although the team started out 3-0, it was against teams who finished the season a combined 11-40. Things went downhill for Denver, as the Broncos finished 7-10 and missed out on the playoffs for the sixth season in a row.
Following their fifth season in a row with a losing record, which was capped with four losses to end the campaign, the Denver front office decided to fire head coach Vic Fangio after his third season. Linebacker Von Miller had been traded midseason to the Los Angeles Rams, resulting in 2022 Draft picks for Denver.
The Broncos finished the 2021 season eighth in the league in total defense, allowing 326.1 yards a game, however their offense lacked, as they were in the middle of the pack with 330.5 yards of total offense.
Denver Broncos Key Additions
The quarterback situation in Denver left much to be desired in 2021. The Broncos traded for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the prior offseason, leaving Drew Lock to be the backup. The Broncos remedied that situation in the offseason, trading for quarterback Russell Wilson and sending Lock to Seattle in his place. Wilson, a nine-time Pro Bowler, should be a welcome change at the position.
Denver also added depth to its defensive line, signing defensive lineman D.J. Jones to a three-year deal. Jones spent the past five seasons with the 49ers, recording a combined 17 tackles for loss the past two seasons. Linebacker Randy Gregory also joined the Broncos on a five-year deal while cornerback K’Waun Williams signed a two-year deal.
The Broncos also signed a few players to one-year deals, with linebacker Alex Singleton and offensive tackles Tom Compton and Billy Turner being notable additions.
Denver Broncos Key Subtractions
While Denver received Wilson from the Seahawks, the Broncos also had to build a package for Seattle to get him. Along with quarterback Drew Lock being dealt to Seattle, Denver lost some production from tight end Noah Fant and defensive end Shelby Harris.
Fant led the team in receptions with 68 for 670 yards and four touchdowns, while Harris led the team in sacks with six and was second in tackles for loss with seven.
The Broncos also let a number of players walk in free agency, including quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who signed a deal with Miami.
A number of departures came on the defensive side of the ball, as cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Kyle Fuller signed elsewhere in the offseason, with Callahan making his way out west to the Chargers while Fuller went east to the Ravens. Defensive end Stephen Weatherly and linebacker Kenny Young also became free agents in the offseason, as Weatherly joined the Cleveland Browns and Young the Raiders.
Denver Broncos Head Coach Analysis
The Broncos went through their second head coaching change in four years with the hiring of Nathaniel Hackett in the offseason.
Denver hired Fangio in 2019 to replace Vance Joseph, hoping his coaching experience would help end the Broncos’ playoff drought. However, after three seasons wherein Denver failed to make the playoffs and the team finished with a combined 19-30 record, Fangio was out the door one day after Denver’s last game.
Fangio is known for his defensive mind, spending years as a defensive coordinator, and Denver’s defense in 2021 finished in the league’s top 10 in many categories.
However, Denver is now going in a different direction with the appointment of Hackett as head coach, as he spent seven seasons as an offensive coordinator. Hackett’s most recent stint as OC was with Green Bay, where he helped the Packers finish in the top 10 in scoring offense in the past two seasons and quarterback Aaron Rodgers posted back-to-back MVP seasons.
The Broncos have struggled on offense in recent years, and with Hackett at the helm, the team should see an improvement and hope to get back to a winning formula.
Denver Broncos Injured Players at the Beginning of the Season
The Broncos were hit by a number of injuries in the 2021 season that caused some players to miss extensive time. However, it appears most of them are ready to go.
Offensive lineman Graham Glasgow fractured his ankle in Week 9 to miss the remainder of the season and later discovered he also suffered a broken leg and tendon tear as well, however he started camp off the PUP list.
Wide receiver KJ Hamler was another who missed significant time last season after tearing his ACL in Week 3. While Hamler started camp on the PUP list to play it safe, he is expected to be ready by Week 1.
The Broncos suffered a couple of losses when wide receiver Tim Patrick and running back Damarea Crockett were placed on injured reserve, as both tore their ACLs. Patrick was an important part of Denver’s receiving core while Crockett served as a backup running back and took snaps on special teams.
Offensive tackles Tom Compton and Billy Turner have also landed on the PUP list with no designated timetable for return, while Gregory began training camp on the PUP list as well, however he is expected to be ready to go by Week 1.
Denver Broncos Offense
The Broncos’ offense will get a big upgrade in 2022 with Wilson taking over at quarterback. During his 10 seasons in Seattle, Wilson helped lead the Seahawks to the playoffs eight times, averaging 3,705.9 yards and 29.2 touchdowns a season.
With Wilson throwing the ball, Denver’s wide receivers should see increased success in 2022. The Broncos’ leader in receiving yards will return in Courtland Sutton, as he led the team with 776 receiving yards while also grabbing two touchdowns. Their No. 2 receiver, Tim Patrick, was lost to an ACL tear, but Jerry Jeudy will look to make an impact in 2022 after leading the team in 2020. With a solid offensive line, Wilson should have the time for the wide receivers to showcase their talents.
The Broncos will also return their leading rusher from a season ago, as running back Melvin Gordon re-signed with the team for one year. Gordon rushed for 918 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021. Javonte Williams will split time with Gordon heading into his second season with the Broncos after rushing for 903 yards and four touchdowns.
An improved signal-caller as well as strong returning weapons around him should signal improvements are to come for Denver’s offense in the upcoming season.
Denver Broncos Defense
The Broncos’ defense wasn’t the issue for the team last season, as Denver finished in the top 10 in overall defense and in the top three in scoring defense.
While Denver moved on from defensive-minded Fangio and hired a first-time defensive coordinator in Ejiro Evero, the defense returned many of its key members and brought in some extra talent as well, indicating the Broncos shouldn’t plan to see a dropoff from last season’s production.
The Broncos added some strength to its defensive front in the offseason by signing Jones and Gregory, adding to a line that includes Dre’Monte Jones and Bradley Chubb. Although Denver lost its leading sack leader in Shelby Harris, Dre’Monte Jones led the team in tackles for loss last season with nine and was second on the team in sacks with 5.5.
Denver also re-signed safety Kareem Jackson to a one-year deal after he led the team in total tackles in 2021 with 88. He will pair nicely with safety Justin Simmons, who led the team with five interceptions last season and was second in total tackles with 80 and passes defended with 12. The secondary will also hope to have another good year from cornerback Patrick Surtain, who is coming off a rookie campaign in which he led the team with 14 passes defended and also had four interceptions.
Denver Broncos Special Teams
The Broncos had an average special teams unit in the 2021 season and returned most of the same players from a season ago. However, with the departure of Fangio, that also meant Denver moved on from special teams coordinator Tom McMahon, with Dwayne Stukes taking the role in his place.
Kicker Brandon McManus is the only player remaining from the Broncos Super Bowl-winning team. He finished the 2021 season 26/31 on field goals and 33/34 on extra points and will continue to be a steady presence in 2022.
Punter Sam Martin had the ninth-most in the NFL in 2021 with 67, with a net average punting yards of 42.8, which was fourth best. Martin will likely be Denver’s punter once more for the 2022 season, although the Broncos signed some competition in the offseason in Corliss Waitman.
Dionte Spencer took a large chunk of Denver’s punt and kicking return snaps, averaging 7.9 yards on punt returns and 17.1 yards on kick returns. However, the Broncos let Spencer go in the offseason, instead drafting wide receiver Montrell Washington in the fifth round to take on the job.
Denver Broncos Prediction for the 2022 Season
After starting the season 3-0, the 2021 season ended in disappointment once again for the Denver Broncos, finishing last in the AFC West and missing the playoffs for the sixth year in a row.
With a new head coach and a future Hall of Famer at quarterback, there is reason for optimism in Denver and its future. However, the AFC West is a tough conference, and a new coach, a new quarterback and injuries suggest growing pains are to come.
While the team won’t have to wholly rely on the success of the defense with a reinvigorated offense, it will take more than one offseason for everything to come together for the Broncos. A third-place finish in the West isn’t out of the question for this team.
Denver Broncos Final Thoughts
The Broncos trading for Wilson in the offseason got the NFL buzzing and many Denver fans excited for the future, for good reason. Wilson will look to be a mainstay in Denver after the Broncos have had 11 different starting quarterbacks in the past six years.
While Denver found a quarterback to help boost production of the Broncos’ strong receiving core, the team also will plan to get good production out of its running back tandem as well. With Wilson bringing new life into Denver’s offense, the Broncos’ offense and defense will be more evenly matched for future success.
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Denver Broncos FAQs
1. How many Super Bowls have the Broncos been to?
The Broncos have been to the Super Bowl eight times, in 1977, ‘86, ‘87, ‘89, ‘97, ‘98, 2013 and 2015, The Broncos won the Super Bowl in 1997, 1998 and 2015.
2. What is the Denver Broncos’ all-time record?
The Broncos’ all-time record is 495-444-10
3. Who owns the Denver Broncos?
The Walton-Penner Ownership Group
4. When was the last time the Broncos were in the playoffs?
In 2015, when Denver won the Super Bowl.