Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is at a career crossroads, as he’s entering his third season as lead man and has yet to notch a win in the month of September.
Fangio is 0-7 so far in the opening month. But according to prognosticators, the Denver Broncos are poised for a successful season (i.e., playoff bound), and that all starts with the September 12 opener at the New York Giants. The Broncos look to get over the .500 mark for the first time since Week 3 of the 2018 season.
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Scrolling through multiple sites and publications, the Broncos are the overwhelming pick against the Giants, and a primary reason is the roster’s depth. General manager George Paton has been lauded for his ability to stockpile talent — so much so, that opposing teams are keeping a watchful eye on the Broncos’ transactions.
Reason for Optimism
Broncos fans, and casual fans alike, know the popular players on the roster. Guys like outside linebackers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, wideouts Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, running back Melvin Gordon, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and free safety Justin Simmons are known commodities. But if the Broncos are to make waves, this season, and start the 2021 campaign off right with a win over the Giants, the supporting cast will need to consistently perform.
Pete Prisco, of CBSSports.com, is bullish on the Broncos, particularly in Week 1, noting that stars will be stars, but it’ll be up to Denver’s unsung defensive line and revamped offensive line to give the Giants more than they can handle.
Prisco says that while it’s a long trip east for the Broncos, they should still thrive, specifically because “defense travels well and the Broncos will have a top defense.”
Youth to be Served
Josh Edwards, also of CBSSports.com, is high on the Broncos’ rookies and feels they can be immediate impact players. Edwards has two first-year players from Denver in his Top-10 rankings.
Cornerback Patrick Surtain II, the No. 9 pick for the Broncos in the 2021 draft, is Edwards’s highest-ranked rookie.
Says Edwards, “Surtain should be a key player in a much-improved defensive unit.” Edwards added that Surtain II was the top cornerback prospect available, using Surtain II’s pick-six in his very first preseason game as validation.
Surtain II isn’t the only neophyte expected to make an immediate impact, as Edwards tabbed Javonte Williams as his second highest-ranked running back. Edwards went on to say that despite Williams being a second-round pick, the former UNC star was his top-rated running back prospect, and is expected to “come on strong down the stretch [of the season].”
Broncos Country should expect impact plays from these two rookies, starting with the season opener at MetLife Stadium.
A Different Mindset
The previous two seasons under Fangio was likely met with skepticism, primarily because of the unsettled revolving door of opening-week starting quarterbacks, and a first-year head coach (63 years of age) who was on his maiden voyage despite being in the twilight of his career.
But according to Miller, this season just feels different.
Expectations are high for the Broncos, noted Miller. And while he admits he’s an optimist by nature, he feels this roster, this coaching staff, the energy that’ll be brought back into Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, and even the local media, is giving the team a different vibe.
“This is a different team, it’s a different mindset,” said Miller, following a September 9 practice. “It’s just a different feel. You guys have been out here, you guys have seen it. You guys have been here just as long as I have. It’s just a different team, it’s just a different feel. I feel like George Paton really has his hand on each and every pick. Each and every player, they all have a purpose. I’m excited to see what we do in real, live action.”
Miller and Broncos Country will get to see what the team can do in real action, all season, beginning with their highly-anticipated tilt against the Giants.