The NFL off-season is filled with hearsay and conjecture. NFL teams transform their rosters through free agency and the draft, trying to better their teams for the impending season.
Predictions are cast. Pundits have their say. Critics have their gripes. But the bulk of the NFL off-season is filled with tons of questions, not many answers. The answering part usually comes in early September, when the pads are strapped on for real and the season gets underway.
But since the Week One matchup pitting the Denver Broncos vs. the Indianapolis Colts is still 98 days away, might as well keep asking questions right?
Here are 20 questions I have heading into the 2014 season. Halfway through the campaign I will re-visit these questions, and we shall see if we have some answers.
1. Can Peyton Manning maintain his mind-boggling offensive production at the age of 38? The numbers Manning stamped in the record books last year were foolish. Are we due for an encore performance?
2. Will the Broncos see the “Full Montee“, now that Montee Ball will be the feature running back? Or will it be a running back by committee? Will he hold onto the ball and can he protect Peyton?
3. Is this the last season the Broncos will have both Thomases? Both the Broncos freak wide receiver and freak tight end are heading into contract years. Will the Broncos be able to afford extensions for both of them?
4. Speaking of Thomases, can Julius repeat his production from last year? (12 touchdowns, 65 receptions, 788 yards) He went from unknown prospect to legit Pro Bowler. Will he be one of the best again? If he is, he’s going to get paid.
5. Will the Broncos defense have a new identity? John Elway went bonkers in free agency to toughen up their D. The pick-ups of DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, and Aqib Talib look great on paper. Will that translate to the field?
6. Who starts at left guard? With Zane Beadles gone, there has been talk of Orlando Franklin plugging that hole, and Chris Clark starting at right tackle. It will be interesting to see how the offensive line dust settles.
7. Will Ryan Clady return to form? People forget the Broncos didn’t have their All Pro tackle last year. Will he be at 100 percent protecting Manning’s blind side?
8. Will Von Miller continue to be a dope? If he gets caught smoking the reefer or violates any other substance abuse infractions, he will most likely be suspended a year. The Broncos need him on the field to win it all. Up with hope, down with dope!
9. With Eric Decker gone, and Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer now in the wide receiver fold, will Peyton Manning still maintain ridiculous chemistry with his bevy of weapons? Could the Broncos be better without Decker?
10. Who starts in Decker’s wide receiver slot? The veteran (Emmanuel Sanders), the rookie (Cody Latimer), or the sleeper (Andre Caldwell)?
11. Who is going to be the Broncos’ starting middle linebacker. Will it be Nate Irving? The new guy Lamin Barrow? Or someone we’re not even talking about?
12. Will DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller terrorize opposing quarterbacks all season long? You can’t double-team them both. They both are beasts. Will they be the dynamic duo the Broncos need to pressure the pocket on a consistent basis?
13. Will cornerback Bradley Roby live up to the first round hype? He might not be expected to start from Day One, but he will be relied upon to contribute as a first round pick.
14. Will the Broncos revamped secondary be a strength? Goodbye Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Hello Talib and Roby. Welcome back Chris Harris Jr. and Kayvon Webster. Good teams have good secondaries. Will this group perform?
15. Can the Broncos avoid the injury bug? They got bit hard last year. Miller, Derek Wolfe, Harris Jr., Moore, Clady, Kevin Vickerson all were starters who suffered season ending injuries. Despite these holes, the Broncos still made it to the big dance, but they were obviously missing some of these players when they got served by Seattle.
16. Can Wolfe and Rahim Moore recover from dangerous and weird injuries? Second round pick Wolfe was suffering from seizures and sustained a scary neck injury in the pre-season last year. Moore was playing solid until being diagnosed with compartment syndrome and he nearly lost his leg.
17. Will the T.J. Ward acquisition be worth it? The Broncos need him to lay people out on the on the field, not off. He was recently cited for throwing a glass mug at a bartender. Will the league frown upon this digression?
18. Will “Pot Roast” continue to cook? Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton played at an elite level last season. Will he continue to come hard to the paint even though he’s only getting paid $1.5 million in 2014?
19. Will Brock Osweiler see the field in 2014? I hope not. It’s pretty strange to hope that a second round pick does not find the field, but I think we all agree that the only time Broncos fans want to see him in the game is in the victory formation.
20. Will any of the changes the Broncos made this off-season pay off? Will any of the answers to these questions matter? Can they get over that final hurdle and become Super Bowl champions? We shall see. I can’t wait to start getting some answers.
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