The Thursday night kickoff game is now just a week away, and the Denver Broncos own debut just 10 days away, football is almost finally back. Unfortunately, Denver still has several lingering questions that we don’t yet have the answer to. Here are three of the biggest Broncos storylines to watch in 2020.
How does the Broncos young offense perform?
This will be the biggest storyline for the Broncos from Week 1 right through until the end of the 2020 season. At this point, we can predict what the final depth chart on offense should like for the Broncos, and the talent is impressive, but we have yet to see if it can all come together.
Denver is banking on Drew Lock taking a major leap in his second season, but unfortunately, the reviews from his scrimmage performance were lukewarm at best. The Broncos are also putting a lot of pressure on an offense with an average age of 24 to learn a new offensive scheme and gel in the most disorganized off-season in NFL history.
If Lock does make that leap and the offense is able to gel, the Broncos should be a playoff contender with an outside chance at the AFC crown. On the other hand, if Lock doesn’t live up to the off-season hype and the offense remains disjointed, Denver could easily find themselves going back to the drawing board with a top-10 pick.
Who is the bellcow running back for the Broncos in 2020?
Ever since the Broncos signed Melvin Gordon this off-season, the debate has raged on as to whether he or Phillip Lindsay will come out on top in the pecking order at running back. Immediately after the signing, it seemed like Gordon would be the lead back because the amount the team had invested in him, but now that doesn’t seem to be the case. As we’ve gotten to see both backs at training camp, Lindsay has proven he’s worthy of a 50-50 split at least, and probably should be getting the majority of the team’s touches.
That said, teams don’t like to be immediately proven wrong on controversial free agent signings, so they could opt to keep Gordon as the team’s primary running back, despite what we’ve seen at training camp. How the workload is split between the two backs in Week 1, in terms of both touches and carries, will be very revealing as to how the team plans on utilizing their two different skill sets as the season wears on.
Has Denver’s pass rush regressed?
One of the loudest and most fault-ridden narratives of last season was Von Miller’s supposed regression, and that notion has continued to rage like wildfire throughout this offseason. The narrative started early, as the Broncos recorded just one sack through the first four weeks of the season, and picked up speed as Miller failed to record double-digit sacks for the first time in his career when playing all 16 games.
However, to counter that argument, you can also measure pass rush with pressures, and the number of pressures created by Miller actually improved from 2018 to 2019 rather than declining. In addition, while Miller’s sack count dipped, defensive linemen Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris, and Demarcus Walker all set new career-highs for sacks. Lastly, it’s worth noting that having rookie undrafted free agent Malik Reed out of Nevada in the Mountain West conference start opposite of you is a significant drop-off from having Bradley Chubb in that role, which also hurt Miller’s sack numbers.
Speaking of Chubb, his ability to bounce back from the torn ACL he suffered last season will also be huge for Denver’s pass rush and the team’s success as a whole. With the defensive line as loaded as it is, there should be plenty of opportunities for him to replicate his 12-sack rookie campaign.