Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton (14) wins a touchdown pass while Cleveland Browns cornerback defends Denzel Ward (21) during the first half of the NFL football game, Denver, November 3, 2019. (AP Photo / David Zalubowski)
The 2019 season was crucial for the Broncos who turned the ship around despite the loss or deterioration of star players.
Denver now has a quarterback to build around, continuity with the head coach and various young stars that form the basis for the roster for the first time since 2013.
These are the players who improved their inventory the most and the players who saw their game drop the most in 2019:
Courtland Sutton appeared not only as a star for the Broncos in 2019, but on the national stage, also as one of the future stars of the competition.
Sutton’s static line (72 receptions for more than 1,100 yards and six touchdowns) doesn’t even capture the full extent of his incredible season, thanks to the countless striking reel-worthy catches he made, all with a washed-up Joe Flacco, a back-up that still never made an NFL snap, and Drew Lock.
It’s crazy that Sutton was not originally named after the Pro Bowl (luckily it was corrected) because he was a legitimate All-Pro contender, but Broncos fans should be confident knowing that the Lock-to-Sutton connection would have to be long to exist .
Fourth-year safety Justin Simmons was solid in 2018, but came in 2019 as a bona fide superstar.
In his contract year, Simmons became the highest level of safety, defensive back and the fourth highest defender of Pro Football Focus and was also named by the AP as the second All-Pro team.
His contract was set to end this out of season, but it would be more than surprising if the Broncos were unable to bring back the young star safety.
No member of the organization improved their inventory more in 2019 than general manager John Elway.
For the season, one could strongly argue why the Broncos had canned their Hall-of-Fame quarterback. But now everyone with that attitude must seriously re-evaluate.
In 2019, Elway landed his second straight, extremely strong design class, made the right head coaching in Vic Fangio, brought in key free agents in Kareem Jackson and Mike Purcell, found a jewel in Alexander Johnson, and finally solved the quarterback problem with Drew Lock and the only took a second round pick.
As a general manager in the warm seat, it is difficult to set up a better season.
Von Miller is not nearly finished yet, but to say that he was still the annual candidate for Defensive Player of the Year and game wrecker that he was three seasons ago is just an exaggeration.
With eight pockets, Miller delivered the second lowest pocket total for a single season of his career, prior to just the 2013 season when he tore his ACL and appeared in only nine games.
He might bounce back in his second season in Fangio’s plan, but in all likelihood Miller’s rule is over.
Chris Harris Jr.
Although Miller remained a star player despite his relegation, Chris Harris Jr. fell. in 2019 all the way from “superstar” to “just a man”.
Harris Jr. appeared in the second half of the season. to be the weak spot of the secondary and was therefore consistently attacked. The Vikings, Bills, Raiders and Lions begged him as he struggled to keep recipients on deep routes.
You could argue strongly that the inability to defend deep routes led the Vikings to return to the Broncos in week 11.
It will be interesting to see what happens to him out of season. Harris Jr.’s contract expires and his value is probably not what he would want thanks to a bad campaign.
Garett Bolles and Elijah Wilkinson
At the start of the season, the idea was that the Broncos had a solid sixth man in the offensive line in Elijah Wilkinson and that with Mike Munchak now on deck, Garett Bolles could turn his game around.
17 weeks later, and neither seems to be the case.
Bolles closed the season with 17 penalties and became one of only two line men to be called in for more than 15 penalties and allowed 31 quarter pressure on the quarterback.
Meanwhile, Wilkinson himself was flagged nine times and allowed the most pressure from all Bronco while playing in relief with Ja’Wuan James.