ESPN Gives Broncos' Offensive Weapons Surprising NFL Ranking

Chad Jensen

At this time last year, the Denver Broncos scared no one when it came to offensive weaponry. That's what fielding an offense led by Joe Flacco will do. 

The Broncos had some serious talent at this time last year but lacked the triggerman. All the Emmanuel Sanderses, Courtland Suttons, Phillip Lindsays, and Noah Fants couldn't overcome the on-his-last-legs Flacco. All the explosive talent in the world at the skill positions feels like it's for naught when Flacco is the distributor of the football. 

My, what a difference a year makes. ESPN's Bill Barnwell is one of the better journalists covering the NFL and an astute analyst. Each year, he ranks all 32 teams based on offensive weaponry. 

At this time last year, Barnwell ranked the Broncos No. 31. One year later? Barnwell ranks the Broncos at No. 14 in the NFL. Was it simply the additions of Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler that accounts for the leap forward? Here's what Barnwell said. 

14. Denver Broncos

2019 rank: 31 | 2018 rank: 22

After using the past two drafts to rebuild their weaponry, the Broncos have one of the more exciting young cores in the league. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton, a second-round pick in 2018, broke out with a 1,112-yard campaign last season, which is particularly impressive when you consider that his quarterbacks were Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen and rookie Drew Lock. First-round pick Noah Fant wasn't consistent as a rookie, but he ranked ninth in receiving yards and fourth in yards per route run among tight ends over the second half of the season. General manager John Elway then supplemented this group by using his top two draft picks on wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. This is an exciting group of receivers, although more for the long term than in 2020 given their relative inexperience.

I'm less enthused about the Broncos moving Phillip Lindsay out of the starting lineup for free-agent signing Melvin Gordon, who wasn't effective for the Chargers last season after returning from his holdout and saw the fumble woes from his rookie year reappear. Gordon was still 15th in success rate and is a plus receiver, so he should comfortably be an upgrade on Royce Freeman's half of the Denver running back rotation.

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And there you have it. The Broncos' rise on Barnwell's list mostly comes down to what Sutton and Fant showed last year and the arrival of Jeudy and Hamler. 

It's interesting that Barnwell was less-than-enthused about the Melvin Gordon addition, which echoes the overall reaction we at Mile High Huddle had. What football czar in his right mind makes a move to sit a dynamic ball-carrier like Lindsay down? 

John Elway, that's who. For reasons that we can only assume have to do with Gordon's receiving prowess (which isn't that great) and Lindsay's durability (5-foot-9, 190 pounds). Gordon is hailed like he's the second coming of Marshall Faulk as a receiver out of the backfield but he isn't. 

Is Gordon better than Lindsay as a receiver? Yes. Is he $8 million worth of being better? There's the rub. 

I would answer 'no' to that question. Elway answered 'yes'

It's going to be fun to see how it plays out, not just for Lindsay and Gordon, but for this young Broncos offense absolutely teeming with talent. It comes down to the Xs and Os and in this case, the Jimmy, not the Joes, to bring it all together. 

The onus falls on OC Pat Shurmur and ultimately, on Lock to deliver. I'm not worried about either stepping up and doing what needs done in order for the Broncos offense to realize its potential. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

Comments (13)
No. 1-8
Denver_guy
Denver_guy

To be fare, Flacco couldn’t survive the defense blowing leads

Chilly303
Chilly303

Flacco didn't appear to be playing for more than a paycheck. Even with Sanders on the roster for 7 of his 8 starts, the Flacco led offense averaged 15.6 points per game. That's awful. With Allen, and no Sanders, it was 16.7 ppg. With Lock, the Broncos averaged 21.4 ppg. No team in the NFL averaged less points per game than the Broncos did with Flacco at QB.

orangeNbluethroughx2
orangeNbluethroughx2

The one thing not many people talk about is that M. Gordon is a plus pass blocker while Lindsay is not very good at it up until this point.

Ro_Go
Ro_Go

Ya'll keep sleeping on that boy Lindsay. Hes going to show an improvement and how's hes a complete accomplished RB in every aspect.

Jimrichard
Jimrichard

One thing for sure is every team needs a run game to open up the passing game. Denver will need to establish they can run the ball to keep teams honest or all the new receivers won't be as open as they could be. I think it is great that Gordon will get a chance to contribute this year and if he doesn't produce then they turn to more Lindsey and even Freeman. Options at every position are good. Also look for Lock to take off to get first downs too. They just need to remind him to slide.

Jefffrey55
Jefffrey55

The identity of this team changed when Lock rocked. Although the "sample" sucked the identity did change and business changes when goals are met. Elway spoke too soon thinking to help create a pro in stays in and we take care of the pro attitude to a we got the goods to attract the best of the coaches players and owners and we are becoming that team originally termed by Elway as whatever he said. The team that is always good. I can't remember now. Lindsay and Simmons will get their money Pro Bowls and rings to go with it.

Kebby77
Kebby77

I dont think anyone is sleeping on Lindsay. Elway had some cap room and ultimately made the offense and team better by signing Gordon. I guess nobody is realizing we got him for half the cost of the highest paid running back. We should have a well balanced offensive attack.

Marco Van Heimen
Marco Van Heimen

Let’s not forget that key of success on an Offense is the line. We do have threaten weapons, yes, but they will only shine if our linemen are able to establish a solid run game and to provide quality time for Lock in the pocket. In my opinion, previous years production has been poor for a deficient O line.


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