Although the disappointing and crushing loss that sent Peyton Manning and the Broncos to an early playoff exit is still fresh in the minds of Broncos fans everywhere, it's time to think about what can be fixed in the offseason.
There are plenty of questions to be answered, but let's look forward, not backward. The Broncos lost offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to the San Diego Chargers and hired Adam Gase in his place. Mile High Stadium is also being renovated during the offseason. Not only will the Broncos have an upgraded offense, but they will also have upgraded video boards (much needed).
So, what are the Broncos' biggest questions that need to be answered in the offseason? Read on to find out!
The Broncos promoted quarterbacks coach Adam Gase to offensive coordinator on January 17. According to The Associated Press via ESPN.com, in his press conference announcing his promotion, Gase confidently said the Broncos offense was going to "play pedal to the metal and play as fast as possible and be aggressive, and score as many points as possible every game."
That's saying a lot considering the year Gase and the Broncos offense had in 2012.
Gase was an integral part of the 2012 offense staff that was ranked fourth in the league. The offense also averaged 30.1 points per game, the second highest in the league. Peyton Manning also shattered previous single-season franchise records in 2012, including most touchdowns (37) and yards (4,659).
Gase has been with the Broncos since 2009 and has helped move the offense to a place it has never been. Gase says he wants to move even faster next year, and with youthful wide receivers, it's definitely possible.
After finishing the 2012 season 13-3, I believe Adam Gase will only push the offense to be even better, and the Broncos will improve in 2013. I'm confident there will not be a disappointing end to 2013, and Gase will have a lot to do with it.
The Broncos have added depth in the last two drafts, but they still need more beef in the middle of the offensive line.
Thankfully, this year's draft is heavy on bigger guys, something the Broncos need to address. In the game against the Ravens, the offense was unable to convert on multiple 3rd-and-short situations.
Philip Blake, a fourth-round pick from Baylor, will be ready to come back after being on injured reserve for a thumb injury most of the season. Blake, at 6'2" and 312 pounds, will add depth to the offensive line at either guard or center.
Hopefully, the Broncos will use their second-round pick on an inside linebacker in order to infuse some young blood immediately.
There are many things you could blame the loss to the Ravens on, but one common thought has been weather.
Peyton Manning has always had trouble playing at the highest level in cold weather. This is probably because all but last year Manning has either played in a warm climate or in a dome. Manning has never had to play in a cold climate like Denver, Colorado. He grew up in Louisiana, played in mild Tennessee and played his first 17 NFL seasons in a domed stadium.
So, did the cold weather—the second coldest game in team history—prevent Manning from throwing long passes? It certainly seems like the weather was a big factor. Manning admitted earlier in the season he was having to wear gloves to help him get a better grip on the football. A side effect of his neck surgeries, nerve damage to his right triceps has affected his ability to grip.
Doctors have speculated that it may take up to two seasons for Manning's nerves to regenerate, so maybe the cold was literally getting on his nerves.
Despite knowing the medical diagnosis, John Elway and the Broncos front office took the leap of faith and signed Manning to a multiyear deal. It paid off in 2012, other than the disappointing playoff loss. Hopefully, Manning can throw some passes on cold days during the offseason and get a feel for the cold Denver climate so next year the Broncos can make a longer playoff run.
As John Elway said, the Broncos will learn from this situation, so if they are back in it, the results will be different.
Fans will focus most on the big plays, including Rahim Moore's failure to defend Joe Flacco's desperation 70-yard pass and Peyton Manning taking a knee with 30 seconds left in regulation. But, the small details were also important, like failing to hold the Ravens on third downs or the offense failing to convert on multiple 3rd-and-short attempts.
In the offseason, the Broncos will definitely need to work on the run game so they can convert short plays to take control of the game or to keep control of the clock.
What made this game hurt so bad was that the Broncos were in control until the last 90 seconds of regulation. After learning from their mistakes in this game, the defense and secondary will definitely need to be beefed up in the offseason. Moore's mistake cannot be made again, and Joe Flacco, or any other quarterback, shouldn't be allowed to have that much time to create a desperation play.
January 12, 2013, was a huge lesson and motivational tool for the Denver Broncos. I'm excited to see how the 2013 Denver Broncos respond!