To say that 2017 was a disappointment for the Broncos is an understatement. Heading into the season, there was optimism that the Broncos could possibly contend for an AFC Wild Card spot. Those aspirations pretty much ended with their loss in Buffalo and subsequent nosedive after that. Denver would go on to finish last in the AFC West and as one of the worst teams in the league with a 5-11 record. Heading into the 2018 offseason, the Broncos had more questions than answers.
John Elway and the rest of the front office did their best to find some of those answers in free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft. However, several of their decisions haven’t gone over well with Broncos fans. In fact, some of the faithful fanatics are griping over what Denver has or hasn’t done. The following is a list of major complaints from Broncos fans and the fake sports betting odds that I have associated with them.
It Was a Bad Idea to Cut C.J. Anderson (-1000)
In April, the Broncos decided to cut starting running back C.J. Anderson after he just posted the first 1,000-yard season in his career. It was a surprising release because the Broncos didn’t have a great deal of experience behind Anderson. But the team felt that his salary of $4.5 million was just too much. So, he was given the pink slip, and off he went. Roughly three weeks later, Anderson signed a 1-year contract with the Carolina Panthers.
Anderson’s departure left the Broncos with unproven running backs who are expected to fill his void. Devontae Booker is the next man up, as he was a member of last season’s running back by committee approach with Anderson and Charles. Behind Booker are backs with less experience, like rookies Freeman, Williams, and Lindsay.
Last season, Denver finished 12th in the league with 1,852 rushing yards. I don’t see this team finishing that high. You can expect Broncos fans to boo this rushing attack for as long as they struggle this year. C.J. Anderson’s ghost will haunt this backfield in 2018.
Broncos Don’t Have a Legit Starting Tight End (-750)
Heading into the summer, Denver has roughly 6 tight ends on their roster. Now, they won’t carry this many during the regular season, but the question is – who will they keep?
This is the most inexperienced group of tight ends in the league and probably the biggest question mark for the Broncos heading into 2018. Leading the rag-tag bunch of young players is Jeff Heuerman, who has 18 career receptions and 4 years in the league. He’s considered a fantastic run blocker but has yet to establish himself as a receiving threat.
Next on the depth chart is Jake Butt, who was with the Broncos last year but missed his rookie season, as he was recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in his bowl game with the Michigan Wolverines. He has the most potential to break out this year, provided he’s healthy. After him are Austin Taylor, who played with the Broncos last year; Troy Fumagalli, a 2018 5th-round draft pick with great blocking skills; Matt LaCosse, who the Broncos signed off the Giants practice squad; and Brian Parker.
There is potential with this group of tight ends, but until someone steps up to be a reliable option for Keenum, fans are absolutely correct in complaining about this void in the offense. Denver should’ve done more to bring in a steady veteran in order to provide a more consistent security blanket for newly-signed quarterback Case Keenum.
Should Have Drafted a Franchise Quarterback (-500)
The 2018 quarterback draft class was one of the best crop of young QB prospects in quite some time. There were 5 of them taken in the first round, with three taken in the top 7. Teams like the Bills and the Cardinals moved up in the draft to get their potential franchise arm. Other teams, like the Jets, positioned themselves nicely before the draft in order to get their QB. The one team that had a shot to get a potential franchise QB and didn’t was the Denver Broncos.
Sitting at #5 overall, Denver could’ve taken one of the top prospects. Instead, they chose to go in a different direction. Ultimately, they’re banking on their 2016 first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch to develop into their signal caller of the future. Unfortunately, nothing we’ve seen from Lynch really indicates that he will blossom into a franchise savior.
Lynch had an opportunity last year to win the starting job, but he failed to seize it. Now, he’s fallen behind Keenum on the depth chart and doesn’t appear any closer to a starting role than he was two years ago.
Not only didn’t Denver take a QB in the first round, but they didn’t even take one in the entire draft. Their confidence in Keenum and Lynch is rather alarming. It’s why Broncos fans are taking to social media to tweet and post about this concerning approach. These fans have a legitimate case against Denver’s front office here, and if Keenum crashes and burns in 2018, there could be a potential riot in Denver. As for now, expect these complaints to continue unless Keenum leads this team to a winning record.
Should Have Traded 1st– Round Pick Instead of Taking Chubb (-200)
This complaint piggybacks off the previous one. And it was a loud one during the week of the 2018 NFL Draft. Denver had a trade deal worked out with Buffalo prior to the draft but called it off when Bradley Chubb was still on the board. Now, Chubb is a phenomenal collegiate pass rusher. Pairing him with Von Miller is going to be a beautiful thing to watch, if you enjoy amazing defensive pressure. However, there were many fans complaining that the Broncos could’ve done more for the franchise if they would’ve just traded with Buffalo or another team and got back more draft picks in return.
With the uncertainties in the backfield, questions about LB depth, and an injured offensive line, many fans wanted the Broncos to get extra picks to address those needs. When it didn’t happen, there was a great deal of fans that refused to celebrate with the Broncos’ war room over the selection of Chubb.
I’m not sold on Keenum having as a great of a year for Denver this season as he did with the Vikings last year, but I’m not on board with this complaint. Chubb will help that defense out immediately. Not to mention, Denver really did well in their draft this year. They added depth at receiver with Sutton and Hamilton, got a fantastic linebacker in Josey Jewell out of Iowa, and added some depth at running back with Freeman and Williams. Yes, it would’ve been nice to see more draft picks and possibly an additional 1st-round pick from the Bills, but Denver did answer some of those offseason questions in this draft.
With every struggle that Chubb has in 2018, you can bet that some of these Broncos fans will keep this complaint alive all season long.
Paid Too Much Money for Case Keenum (Even)
On March 14th, the Denver Broncos signed free agent quarterback Case Keenum to a 2-year, $36 million deal. Keenum became a free agent after his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, won the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes and no longer needed Keenum’s services. The Broncos, who were also in the Cousins sweepstakes, got the consolation prize in Keenum, as they fell short in landing the top prize in this year’s free agent class.
Keenum finished 2017 with some impressive numbers: 11-3 as a starter, 67.6 completion percentage, 3,547 passing yards, 23 total touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. At one point last year, Keenum’s name was mentioned in the same breath with other MVP candidates like Tom Brady.
2017 was the best year of Keenum’s career. In fact, he basically outperformed the previous 4 years of his career combined. With that said, it’s hard to imagine paying that much money to a QB who had just one good year in his career. And this is where many Broncos fans have griped and groaned. It’s not that they don’t think Keenum can be a solid bridge to the future, but the money they’re paying him was a bit high for a one-hit wonder. And there’s currently no legitimate future prospect on the team.
With each struggle in 2018, I expect the Broncos fans to let Elway know all about their frustrations with the way he’s handled this quarterback dilemma.
The Offense Has No Identity and Isn’t Any Better (+150)
In 2017, the Broncos offense finished 17th in the league with a 20th-ranked passing attack and a 12th-ranked rushing attack. They were 27th in scoring at 18.1 points per game. Right now, this offense will be predicated on Case Keenum’s ability to get the ball out to his wide receivers, as that’s their biggest strength. Other than that, this unit has no real identity. It’s become a major concern for Broncos fans who are trying to be optimistic with the influx of young talent and a free agent QB in Keenum. However, grumblings can be heard within the Broncos’ fanbase as even the diehards wonder just how good or bad this offense will be.
With no established threat at running back, a new QB, two new receivers, and no established tight end, it’s hard to imagine this offense finishing better than 17th overall. In fact, I would bet that they will probably flip their rankings from last year, with the passing attack flirting with a top-10 ranking and the rushing attack flirting with a bottom-10 ranking.
Until this offense puts up points and wins ball games, expect fans to continue expressing their concerns and complaints.
The Broncos Should Not Have Traded Aqib Talib (+750)
This is a tricky topic, but in the end, the Broncos made the right choice to trade Talib. Denver felt that his price tag was too high, and his on-field production wasn’t enough to justify the price. So, they shipped him off to the Rams for a 5th-round draft pick and an $11 million savings on the salary cap.
Talib can still play at a high level. And there will be fans that disagree with this move regardless of how much it made sense to trade him. But ultimately, Denver got younger and saved money by shipping off Talib. Now, they can focus on their defensive back prospects and put that money to good use elsewhere. As for Talib, don’t cry for him. He’s going to make the playoffs this year with the Rams, which will be a lot better than where the Broncos finish this season.
Not Enough Playmakers at the Wide Receiver Position (+1500)
To all of you fans who are complaining about the wide receiver position, put your Broncos foam fingers down, take off your Denver jerseys, slowly exit the stadium, and go become a Cleveland Browns fan. As mentioned above, the wide receiver group will be Denver’s biggest strength on offense. And it all starts with Demaryius Thomas. Since 2012, Thomas has cracked the 1,000-yard receiving mark 5 out of the last 6 years. In 2017, due to poor quarterback play, Thomas finished with just 949 yards. His touchdown numbers dipped to 5 each of the last two seasons. That’s a far cry from the double-digit touchdowns he put up from 2012 to 2014. With Keenum, I expect Thomas to break the 1,000-yard mark again, provided he stays healthy.
Last year, Denver’s other top receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, battled injuries all season long and was only able to put up 555 yards and 2 touchdowns on 47 receptions. Those were his lowest numbers since he came to Denver in 2014. Prior to last year, Sanders had three straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Broncos and averaged almost 7 touchdowns per year. I expect a healthy Sanders and Thomas to be near the top of the AFC in receiving stats when the 2018 season comes to an end.
Behind Sanders and Thomas, the Broncos drafted two dynamic young receivers in Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. In fact, they not only bring a lot of athleticism and collegiate success, but they also bring with them a lot of excitement, as teammates and coaches have been raving about these two players all offseason so far.
Courtland Sutton was taken in the 2nd round with the #40 pick overall. The SMU receiver finished last year with 68 catches for 1,085 yards and 12 touchdowns. At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Sutton has the potential to become a beast. He could end up starting across from Thomas and push Sanders to the slot where he’s had a lot of success.
Denver didn’t stop with just Sutton. They also drafted Penn State’s all-time leading receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who can play the slot behind Sanders. At 6’1”, 205 pounds, Hamilton finished his collegiate career with 214 receptions and 2,842 receiving yards, good for first and second all-time in Penn State history. Hamilton can be a great #4 receiver or move to the slot if the Broncos decide to push Sanders outside, opposite of Thomas.
Either way, the Broncos have options and tremendous young depth behind Thomas and Sanders. For those who think otherwise, you might want to get checked out because I think the elevation is messing with your heads.