The Denver Broncos’ 2020 season was filled with ups, downs, twists, turns, surprises, and lots of other things. The whole year of 2020 has been wild. The COVID-19 pandemic, political meltdowns, among lots of other things. Today, we’ll take a look at that wild ride that is the Broncos 2020 season in which they finished with a record of 5-11. What could have possibly gone right with that bad of a record? What went horribly wrong and caused that record? What can we expect for next year from the Broncos? Let’s get right into it.
BRONCOS 2020 HIGHLIGHTS
It has been almost 2 weeks since the Broncos’ season ended. They finished with a record of 5-11 and finished 28th in total points scored on offense. You may be asking, how in the world are there any highlights to this season with a record and statistics like that? Let’s take a look at some of those highlights.
Broncos vs Jets
The Thursday night game between the Denver Broncos and New York Jets was the first win of the season for the Broncos. Starting quarterback, Drew Lock, was sidelined with an injury, so backup, Brett Rypien, took the starting role. The Broncos came out with a 37-28 victory and Jerry Jeudy had arguably the Broncos’ catch of the year when he “mossed” cornerback, Pierre Desir. However, this isn’t too much of a feature as the Jets held the title of worst team in football for the majority of the season. It was the next game that made the Broncos look promising.
Broncos vs Patriots
Denver came into this game projected to lose. The Cam Newton-lead Patriots looked like a very solid team at the time. Although it came down to the wire, the Broncos pulled off a win. The pass rush was amazing and many of the pass rushers showed their potential. Safety, Justin Simmons, also had one of his five season interceptions in this game. This performance is one to be proud of but this next win is most likely the best Broncos game of the year.
Broncos vs Chargers (Week 8)
It was the middle of the third quarter. Denver was down 24-3 to the Chargers. All hope looked lost. It looked like an obvious defeat or at least that’s what we thought. At that moment in the third quarter, something clicked. Something clicked and the Denver Broncos pulled off an astonishing comeback to defeat the Chargers by a score of 31-30. Broncos fans will vividly remember this game. Drew Lock to K.J. Hamler with zeros on the clock to win the game. What a moment!
Broncos vs Dolphins
This game was one for the ages. The Dolphins were red hot coming off of a 5-game win streak and their rookie quarterback was performing well. They also had the cornerback with the most interceptions in the league along with a phenomenal defense. Denver had all of the odds going against them. However, those odds meant nothing as the defense stepped up and the Broncos pulled off an upset victory. The Dolphins had a chance at a last drive lead by veteran quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Justin Simmons ended that quickly with his game-ending interception.
Lots of people see the Kendall Hinton and Broncos vs Saints incident as a negative thing. I see it as an inspirational moment. Broncos practice squad wide receiver, Kendall Hinton, who played a bit of quarterback in college, was forced to take the snaps after a COVID-19 situation with all of Denver’s quarterbacks. He went in there, he played his heart out, and although the Broncos weren’t victorious, Hinton inspired many football fans around the nation. Hinton received recognition from around the league and even from his opponents during the game. Saints defensive end, Cameron Jordan, praised Hinton after the game for his hard work and his perseverance through the unprecedented scenario. This moment will live on in Broncos franchise history.
Broncos vs Panthers
The Super Bowl 50 rematch although instead of Peyton Manning going up against Cam Newton, it’s Drew Lock taking on Teddy Bridgewater. It was a high-scoring game with lots of interesting moments but it was ultimately Denver that came out on top. I’ll admit, it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the Super Bowl back in February of 2016, but it’s still very reassuring to know that we own the Panthers. Drew Lock was also featured in one of the NFL’s Instagram posts where they commemorate the greatest performances of the week from around the league.
BRONCOS 2020 LOWLIGHTS
It’s fairly obvious that there were many lowlights and down moments in the year. Let’s quickly take a look at what went wrong in the season.
The most notable lowlight of 2020 for Denver probably came before the season even began. News broke on September 15th of 2020 that star outside linebacker, Von Miller, would be placed on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury. Former Pro-Bowl wide receiver, Courtland Sutton, was ruled out for the season with a torn ACL not much after. During Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos had 15 players on Injured Reserve, 2 other players ruled out for the game, and 3 other players ruled as questionable for the game. That’s almost the entire starting lineup. Injuries have really driven the Broncos from their full potential this year. Given that injuries aren’t as bad next year, Denver could be a scary team.
Lots of Broncos fans had extremely high expectations for sophomore quarterback, Drew Lock. After his major victory over the Houston Texans in 2019 and the 4-1 start to his career, Broncos fans had hope. Hope that Lock would be the next franchise quarterback. That hope is still alive, but Lock did not meet those expectations in 2020. Provided that he works hard over the offseason and regains a fully healthy team, Lock can still be the franchise quarterback of the Denver Broncos. However, he had some down moments throughout the year. His most notable one was probably his 4-interception game against the Raiders in Week 10. Lock’s decision making skills need to be improved as well as his throw accuracy. Once he gets those down, he can become the quarterback that we all want to see him become. There is no reason to give up on Lock yet. He has lots of potential, he just needs to execute that potential better.
Getting Swept by the Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders have not swept the Denver Broncos in 10 years when they did it in 2010. The sheer fact of being swept by your most disliked rival really hurts. In Week 17, we had a very good shot at beating the Raiders but a horrible coaching decision was made and it allowed the Raiders to win the game. I doubt the Raiders will sweep the Broncos for the next 10 years but it just doesn’t taste well to lose twice to them.
Broncos vs Chiefs Rivalry
The Chiefs are, no doubt, one of the best teams in the NFL. They are also big rivals of the Broncos. It hurt to be swept by the Raiders but the Broncos have lost 11 straight games to the Kansas City Chiefs. The last time fans saw the Broncos win against the Chiefs was in 2015. Patrick Mahomes was still at Texas Tech at that point. Kyrie Irving was still on the Cleveland Cavaliers at that point, for goodness sake. Denver has got to beat the Chiefs and they need to beat them soon. I speak for all teams in the AFC West when I say, “We can’t let the Chiefs dominate us anymore.”
The Broncos offense did not really click until the very end of the season. I blame this on current Broncos offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur. He was very pass-heavy and put a lot of pressure on Drew Lock to begin the season and did not realize that that gameplan was not working until the very end. Now that they have made the proper adjustments and know what to do, the offense will be much better in the 2021 season. Shurmur will have had time to continue with the gameplan that he ended the season with and Drew will continue to develop.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE NEXT YEAR?
The youth and talent of this team is something to be excited about. If all goes accordingly, Denver could be a playoff team next year. What can we expect and hope to see from Denver in 2021.
Improvements From Lock
After a disappointing year from both the Broncos and their QB, Lock, he is dedicated to living up to the expectations next year. He has already said that he’s going to put in endless time and effort into getting better and working harder. His mentality is admirable and it’s something to look forward to especially if Denver gives him veteran competition. However, if Denver flat out replaces him with a quarterback from the draft, there won’t be as much to be excited about. Everything Drew is planning on doing over the offseason will amount to nothing. So, let’s hope newly acquired general manager, George Paton, does not draft a quarterback.
An Elite Defense
The defense this year was very solid and play well in many games. They held Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to 22 in an away game, they got 4 turnovers on Derek Carr in Week 17, they have allowed the 16th-most passing yards in the league, etc. This defense is something special but injuries heavily stripped away the talent this year. Despite those injuries, the defense held up extremely well, in my opinion. Next year, Denver could potentially get back Von Miller, Shelby Harris, A.J. Bouye, Jurrell Casey, Mike Purcell, Bryce Callahan, Essang Bassey, and Justin Strnad who all missed the last game of the season. I don’t think that Denver will retain ALL of those guys but most of them should be in orange and blue next year. Denver also could draft a defensive player like Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain in the upcoming NFL draft. This defense will be dangerous at full potential and next year, they could be at full potential.
Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy
I just wanted to touch up on this wide receiver duo that I have been looking forward to since the Broncos were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Jerry Jeudy, the rookie out of Alabama, put up 856 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns on 52 catches. He also had the longest reception of the year with his 92-yard touchdown against the Raiders in Week 17. His counterpart, Courtland Sutton, the former Pro-Bowler, put up 1,112 receiving yards and 6 receiving touchdowns on 72 catches in 2019. Sutton averaged 15.4 yards per reception in that year, as well. The two do have their issues, for example, Jerry Jeudy had one of the lowest catch percentages this season. All these things they can work on over the offseason as well as building their chemistry. This duo should have all Broncos fans excited regardless of who’s at quarterback.