Welcome to The Comedown, a new series where we'll be examining select units of different teams across the league that we project to regress in 2020.
The Unit: Broncos Offense
Many are anticipating a massive breakout for Drew Lock and the Broncos offense. We're not here to say that the Broncos will be worse than they were last year, but we are going to give some reasons to pump the brakes.
The Mystery Box: Drew Lock
Drew Lock did lead Denver to some wins down the stretch, but did Denver win because of him or in spite of him? Denver's placement in Real Passing Yards Per Attempt, Real Quarterback Rating, and Offensive Passer Rating before Lock: 25th, 28th, and 23rd. At the end of the season, they placed 24th, 27th, and 23rd, a negligible difference. Lock should be better with a year under his belt and improved weaponry, but the dark horse MVP hype and the idea that this team could actually push the Chiefs for the AFC West are largely unfounded.
The Questionable Use of Cap Space: Melvin Gordon
Melvin Gordon's stock has fallen a long way in the last year. After holding out into the 2019 season, Gordon returned and was outplayed by Austin Ekeler. The Chargers correctly realized he was expendable and let him go, with Denver scooping him up. Gordon is probably better than he played last year, but he has played 16 games just once in five seasons, and Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman already gave Denver adequate backfield options. Additionally, Gordon is reportedly struggling to adjust to Denver's altitude, which could hamper him early in the season. Instead of signing Gordon, Denver would have been wise to invest in the trenches, which would have helped both Lock and the ground game.
Repeated Mistakes? A Lack of Offensive Line Talent
The Broncos placed just 25th in the Offensive Hog Index and then let center Connor McGovern walk. Third round rookie Lloyd Cushenberry is currently slated to get the nod, and having a rookie at center will just add more to Lock's plate. They did add Graham Glasgow at right guard and he should represent an upgrade but the tackle spots look questionable. At left tackle is Garrett Bolles who committed 15 penalties last year and has struggled with consistency since entering the league, and at right tackle is Demar Dotson. Dotson has had a solid career, but is now nearly 35 and has not played 16 games since 2014. This team bears a scary resemblance to the 2019 Browns. A hyped-up second year quarterback with talented receivers, but a shaky offensive line and a coach who may not be the right fit. Vic Fangio is significantly more competent than Freddie Kitchens, but he is a defensive-minded guy and may not be the best choice for developing Lock. Look, there's talent on this team, but a deeper look reveals holes that nobody seems to want to talk about.
The Broncos should be exciting in 2020. Courtland Sutton is one of the league's lesser known stars and Jerry Jeudy should be solid from day one. But exciting does not always to translate to winning, and if we were the Chiefs we would not be sweating just yet.