The Denver Broncos won’t have Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler going forward, which doesn’t concern a lot of people because they were good enough to win the Super Bowl last season despite mediocre play from both quarterbacks.
But the reality is Denver was a huge exception to a strong developing rule in 2015. Each of the previous 12 Super Bowls were won by teams led by superstar quarterbacks — either guys like Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning (before his play dropped off), Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, as well as Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson, both of whom were fantastic on their respective Super Bowl runs.
It’s entirely possible Denver’s 2015 run was an aberration and that by refusing to pay Osweiler John Elway is tempting fate. That defense was indeed phenomenal last season, especially down the stretch, but there’s no guarantee that unit continues to carry the team in 2016 and beyond.
We haven’t had a repeat Super Bowl winner in over decade, and for good reason. Not only will Denver have a huge target on its back in 2016, but you have to consider what free agency vultures do to Super Bowl winners every offseason. The Broncos haven’t just lost Manning and Osweiler. Stud front-seven defenders Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan are also gone, and running back C.J. Anderson — who signed an offer sheet with Miami as a restricted free agent on Thursday — could soon join them as a former Bronco.
Per Football Outsiders, that defense was the second-healthiest unit in football last season. The Broncos were also the healthiest team in football in 2014 and ranked in the top 10 again in 2015. What if the law of averages catches up to them in 2016? With so many losses, they might not have the depth to handle a rash of injuries.
Teams in situations like those often have to be saved by their quarterbacks, but it doesn’t appear as though the Broncos will have that luxury.