Quick Recap of the Offseason
The Chiefs lost some major pieces in Charvarius Ward, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tyreek Hill. They filled some of those holes in free agency and the draft. The Chiefs are still favorited among many to win the division, but they aren’t as invincible as they once seemed.
The Los Angeles Chargers biggest additions come with Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson. They didn’t have any major departures and with Justin Herbert entering his third year coming off two great seasons, the Chargers look promising.
If anyone thought the Las Vegas Raiders were going to roll over and let the other teams pass them by, they were mistaken. The Raiders picked up Davante Adams, Chandler Jones, and Bilal Nichols. They didn’t improve on the offensive line, though, which will continue to hurt them.
The Battleground of the AFC West
It may be too early to be sure, but the 2022 AFC West division has all the makings to be the best division in NFL history. All four teams would likely be playoff contenders in other divisions. However, it’s most likely that only two teams will be left standing when the dust settles. Will the Broncos be one?
Broncos Offseason Moves
The biggest offseason move for the Broncos was without a doubt the trade for Russell Wilson. I’ll break that down more below, but this put the league on high alert that the Broncos don’t plan on squandering their defensive talent. The Broncos traded Von Miller during the 2021 season and filled that hole by plucking Randy Gregory from the Cowboys on a massive $70M contract. They also brought in DJ Jones to replace Shelby Harris.
Is Russell Wilson the Answer to Broncos Offensive Woes?
Wilson is coming off of his worst season of his career, which can be troubling when fans consider that he had one of the best receiving duos in the league with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. However, fans should take some solace in the fact that the Seahawks offensive line was atrocious last year. Wilson has adapted his style of play over the years and tends to stay in the pocket more than he used to. When your offensive line resembles a swinging gate, there’s only so much the man can do. Obviously, the Broncos believe Wilson can fix the offense. They did give him $140M over four years before playing a single snap.
If this offense was in complete shambles heading into the season, it would be hard to understand a single player changing their entire dynamic. That isn’t the case with the Broncos, though, and Wilson has been “that guy” for most of his career. Don’t believe the naysayers Broncos fans.
The Other Guys on Offense
The receiving duo of Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton may not get much hype in football circles right now, but with both receivers being young and having to catch passes from Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater (sorry Teddy), we could see a whole new level to their game now. The loss of Noah Fant hurts the pass attack, but Okweugbunam is a fine replacement.
Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon were the only true 50/50 split running backs in the league last season. Literally, as they both ended the season with 203 carriers each. While there are some question marks on who will officially be the starter, it shouldn’t matter too much. Both backs are solid and workhorse backs continue to become a thing of the past. Unless you’re the King over in Tennessee.
The Concern for the Offense
The Broncos have decent, albeit unproven playmakers on offense. That is especially true on the offensive line, and that’s not a bad thing. Garrett Bolles is coming off a solid year at left tackle. Dalton Risner and Lloyd Cushenberry are both coming off decent seasons, and if they continue to develop, this line could find itself inside the top 10 for the season. You never want your biggest concern on the offensive side of the ball to come from the linemen, but when your line is already sitting in the middle of the pack, it’s not terrible. Expect the Broncos offense to be just outside the top ten when the season ends.
Going into the 2021 season, the Broncos had one of the most promising defenses in the league. They didn’t fully meet those expectations, but this squad has all the talent to do more in 2022. The value of adding Randy Gregory cannot be overstated. Losing players like Von Miller can starve a defense of their identity, especially when that player is one of the best edge rushers in league history. It remains to be seen if Gregory can replicate Miller’s success but make no mistake – he’s good. He’s very good. By the end of the season, he will be top 10 good.
This secondary is just outside the top 10 right now, according to sites like PFF. It’s almost the most promising secondary in the AFC West, right behind the Chargers. Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons looked good throughout 2021 on a secondary that finished 20th in DVOA. The rest of the secondary will need to improve if the Broncos hope to compete in the loaded division.
Will They or Won’t They?
The offense as a unit looks better in 2022, and Russell Wilson is to thank for that. Some fans will say that he’s a shell of his former self, but don’t count him out, yet. Not when he’s been behind one of the worst offensive lines for the past few seasons and no real run game. The defense may have some question marks, but this group is still near the top of the league. The AFC West is very much open for grabs, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Broncos sneak into the playoffs along with the Chargers.
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