Going into the 2021 season, the Denver Broncos hope to proper the ship at virtually each stage. The Broncos’ offense had its woes, particularly the erratic quarterback play, and the inside offensive line was persistently pushed backward final yr.
The protection had hassle staying wholesome at virtually each place, and the teaching workers struggled with its offensive play-calls and the flexibility to cater to the strengths of the skill-position gamers. After such a disappointing yr, a handful of Broncos discover themselves actually below the gun to carry out.
Listed below are the top-5 below essentially the most strain.
Llyod Cushenberry | C
Within the 2020 NFL draft, the Broncos chosen the gifted heart from LSU within the third spherical. Cushenberry was coming off a formidable yr with the Tigers, incomes first-team All-SEC honors and anchoring the 2019 Joe Moore award-winning O-line, which is handed out every year to the nation’s prime OL unit. He was additionally the primary offensive lineman to be awarded the quantity 18 jersey, given to the very best LSU participant on and off the sphere.
Cushenberry’s rookie season began out slightly shaky as he was the weakest hyperlink on the Broncos’ offensive line at instances. He struggled to match the power of the defensive linemen he confronted early on and was repeatedly pushed again into the quarterback.
Nonetheless, because the season continued, he improved and minimized the quarterback pressures. Particularly after the Week 3 match-up towards the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Going into the 2021 season, Cushenberry has a good chance to stay the beginning heart however wants to enhance on his one evident weak point: his power. With the crew drafting Quinn Meinerz within the third spherical, Cushenberry is on discover. Meinerz possesses great energy and appears to be seamlessly selecting up the middle place.
Josey Jewell & Alexander Johnson | LB
When the Broncos determined to half methods with veteran linebacker Todd Davis final yr, it cleared the trail for Johnson to hitch Jewell because the beginning duo. The smash-mouth pair has excelled in defending the run however wants to enhance in cross protection.
Jewell makes use of his excessive soccer IQ to diagnose and break down offensive formations, permitting him to be within the correct place to make the cease on the sphere. He additionally has proven the flexibility to search out his means by means of site visitors to ship the massive hit.
Jewell put this capability on full show when he weaved his means by means of site visitors to ship a thumping blow on dashing champion Derrick Henry within the backfield for a loss within the season-opener final yr. With all that being mentioned, Jewell could be a legal responsibility in cross protection, as he would not possess the athletic traits wanted in right this moment’s recreation.
Johnson garnered lots of consideration after his spectacular 2019 season. A lot so, he would earn the precise to hitch Jewell as a beginning inside linebacker. With that being mentioned, Johnson remains to be slightly tough across the edges.
Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell talked about Johnson’s freelancing fashion final summer season.
“We simply need him to get tighter and tighter on his assignments, however you realize he is acquired a reckless fashion to him, and that helps our protection,” Donatell mentioned.
Johnson might want to fine-tune his recreation, however he would not have a lot time to do it, as Denver has two younger linebackers in Justin Strnad and Baron Browning champing on the bit to maneuver up within the depth chart. Each Strnad and Browning have all of the instruments, together with the protection capability to be a real three-down ‘backer.
Drew Lock | QB
Lock has essentially the most strain on him to reach 2021. He has all of the instruments to thrive however must proceed to fine-tune his skill-set and never fall again on his unhealthy habits.
Lock will first want to stay calm within the pocket, which is simpler mentioned than executed early within the season, because the pocket was routinely collapsing on him early in his reads. Because the season progressed, the pocket held tight, however Lock would get completely satisfied ft. Working to his proper and reducing off half of his targets within the course of.
Lock additionally must work on his footwork. Lock’s technical flaws have value him when coping with man protection. That is necessary in relation to timing routes in small home windows that shut shortly, and in case you are a cut up second late due to uneven footwork, it may well both be deflected or intercepted.
Lock’s time is working out to enhance his mechanics and footwork. With the Broncos buying and selling for veteran Teddy Bridgewater, Lock can both appropriate his errors or watch the sport from the bench. If Lock fails to win the job, his days in Denver is perhaps executed.
Pat Shurmur | OC
The Broncos are plagued by expertise on each side of the ball however have fallen in need of expectations in recent times. A few of that is because of the crew being riddled with accidents, and a few have been due to Denver’s teaching workers arising woefully in need of placing its gamers in the very best place to succeed.
Shurmur has confronted substantial criticism as he has failed to fulfill expectations after being employed within the 2020 offseason. Broncos Nation jumped with pleasure after the preliminary rent, however the tune quickly modified because the crew’s offense didn’t put the ball ultimately zone, together with the misuse of Philip Lindsay and an offense that does not cater to Drew Lock’s strengths.
To not evaluate Lock with an all-timer like Peyton Manning, however Shurmur might want to make particular tweaks to his offense, as Gary Kubiak did when arriving in 2015, to place him in the very best place to succeed on the sphere.
Observe Kenneth on Twitter @KennethMHH.
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