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  • Writer's pictureEast Spotlight Newspaper

Are the Broncos Back?

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

As the 2022 NFL season begins, the anticipation for Broncos football is higher

than it’s been in years. With nine time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson being

traded to Denver in March, it’s easy to see why there is so much excitement for a team

that hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2015 season. With the Broncos having eleven

starting quarterbacks since 2016, Wilson brings to the table what hasn’t been had in

Denver since hall of famer Peyton Manning’s retirement, competent quarterback play.

Many fans and analysts would tell you that having at least an above average QB has

been Denver’s biggest drawback during their current playoff drought. After adding what

seems to have been the missing piece to the puzzle, the Broncos should be right back

in the playoff hunt for the 2022 season.

On top of the addition of Wilson, the Broncos have also made some additions to

higher-up positions within the franchise. Shortly before the blockbuster trade for Wilson,

Denver filled another hole on their team by hiring former Packers offensive coordinator

Nathaniel Hackett to be their head coach. After parting ways with the not-so-fan favorite

Vic Fangio, Hackett’s hiring is just another asset to building onto the anticipation of the

2022 season. With a new head coach taking the reins, Denver is destined for success

through a new game plan. Another major piece that the Broncos have added is a new

ownership group, taking control of the team. Chairman of Walmart, Rob Walton has

bought the team in a well-renowned leadership group. This group includes noteworthy

names such as Mellody Hobson, Condoleezza Rice, and Lewis Hamilton. With a net-

worth of $57.6 billion, Walton is now the richest owner in the NFL, bringing a security to

the franchise that has not been present since previous owner Pat Bowlen was

diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 and later passing away in 2019, leaving a

void in the team’s ownership for years.

After the week one contest vs. the Seahawks, the excitement over Denver’s

season was tampered with a disappointing 17-16 loss. The Broncos got off to a slow

start, trailing 17-13 at half and failed to score more than 3 points in the second half,

despite having many opportunities to find the end zone. On consecutive drives, running

backs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams fumbled at the goal line, which was the

difference between a 30-17 lead and continuing to trail throughout the second half.

Russell Wilson was strong, throwing for 340 yards and a touchdown, but his lead of the

offense was still not enough to take advantage of Seattle’s scoreless second half. On

top of poor first half defense and an inability to score touchdowns, the Broncos also took

a whopping 12 penalties for 106 yards, which did not help. Despite many woes, the

game still came down to the final drive, where Denver had an opportunity to win it late. It

came down to the final play in which head coach Nathaniel Hackett decided to send

kicker Brandon Mcmanus out to attempt a 64 yard field goal, opting not to go for it on

4th and 5. The decision turned out to be costly, as Mcmanus missed the kick wide to the

left, leaving the Broncos in disappointment. Hackett’s late-game decisions have been

widely criticized since the loss, with Peyton Manning even expressing his confusion for

Hackett’s clock management during the “Manningcast” on ESPN 2, jokingly calling

timeouts for Denver during their final drive, as the clock continued to run out. After

Monday’s disappointment, fans had to put their excitement aside for the next game

against the Houston Texans.

Following the loss, the Broncos came out slow on the offensive side of the ball,

continuing their main issues from before. Despite multiple trips to the red zone, Denver

failed to find the end zone and had to settle for two field goals in the first half, entering

halftime tied 6-6. The third quarter entailed a continuation of the Broncos’ sloppy ways,

as they were stalled on offense and more questionable play calls by Nathaniel Hackett

kept them that way. With boos raining from the stands, the crowd had begun to voice

their displeasure with how the team was operating. In a sarcastic response to ongoing

struggles with calling plays on time, the fans even began to count down the play clock to

let the offense know how much time they had to snap the ball. Late in the fourth quarter,

Russell Wilson was finally able to lead the offense to a touchdown, finding tight end Eric

Saubert on a 35 yard pass. Thanks to that score and the defense remaining stout, the

Broncos held on to a 16-9 win, which still left more questions than answers about how

this team will operate from here forward.

In their next game against the 49ers, a similar theme was the story of the day.

The offense remained dormant, as they struggled to find a groove and only came away

with 11 points. Punter Corliss Waitman’s name was called much more than fans would

have desired, kicking the ball away 10 times for an average of 47.6 yards. Although the

offensive struggles continued, Denver’s defense had yet another incredible

performance, forcing 3 turnovers, two of which coming on the 49ers’ final two drives, to

seal an 11-10 win. Including the turnovers, the Broncos’ defense was able to put two

points on the board, as San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stepped out of the

back of the end zone, resulting in a safety. The 49ers may have even gotten a bit lucky

that Garoppolo had stepped out of bounds because Bradley Chubb intercepted his pass

and ran it back for a touchdown that would not count on the same play. With yet another

win thanks to the defense, the Broncos are now on a two game winning streak and

hope to keep that going next week in Las Vegas when they take on the Raiders.

With a disappointing loss followed by two sloppy, low-scoring wins, it is still too

early to determine if the Broncos are for real this year. If Russell Wilson can lead the

offense to pick it up as the defense looks to be among the top in the league, Denver can

be a strong playoff team, but it will be difficult to continue winning games in the manner

that they have been for a 17 game season. We did see them win a Super Bowl 6 years

ago solely because of an elite defense carrying a below average offense, but there is a

long way to go before the Broncos can prove that they are back to their contending

ways for certain.

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